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The Dangers of DIY Contracts

By Howard C. Stross
August 06, 2020

Contracts are an essential part of effective business management and development. Savvy business owners recognize the value of contracts but often explore ways to reduce the cost of obtaining them. Sometimes, business owners attempt to create their own contracts by using templates available online.

However, creating your own contract is fraught with risks. What you do not know can hurt you. The following are examples of the potential risks you face when you choose the do-it-yourself (DIY) route.

  1. The Contract May Leave Out Key Provisions. Creating your own contract to save money can risk unintentionally leaving out key legal terms and clauses that protect your interests as a business owner. Contracts created with online templates are often overly broad or vague, resulting in agreements that, when analyzed, fail to provide the specific protections that make the contract valuable. Attorneys have the experience and resources to craft contracts that include the most important provisions to protect you and your business.

  2. Your Contract Could Be Unenforceable. Failing to understand the legal landscape can cause crafting a contract that, when litigated in court, is unenforceable. For example, specific laws vary by state. A contract appropriate in one state could fail in another. For instance, employment agreements with noncompete provisions may not be enforceable in California but are enforceable in Florida. Here, the unsuspecting individual who uses a California contract for an employment agreement in Florida could be left with, at a minimum, a clause thrown out, or possibly an entire contract that is useless.

    A contract could become unenforceable because laws may change over time based on developing case law and legislative updates. Specific terms and language may need to be added, removed, or revised to maintain legal force. These changes are nuanced and tend to be overlooked when using DIY contracts, resulting in an agreement based on laws that are outdated or inconsistent with your business’ jurisdiction. Finally, a wide variety of legal rules describe and dictate the conditions that must exist in order for a contract to be valid and enforceable. Failing to keep conditions regarding enforceability in mind can cause documents that look right but hold no legal weight.

  3. You Could Create an Accidental Legal Obligation. Contract drafting involves very deliberate language. The inclusion or exclusion of various terms can unintentionally create legal obligations and make you, your business, or both, legally liable. This is especially true given the complexity of language often found in contract templates. The details hidden within boilerplate language may create obligations you are not legally required to take on.

These various risks could culminate in increased liability, decreased protection, and expensive legal fees to remedy these mistakes. The limited savings of a DIY contract are easily outweighed by the time and money spent if these risks become reality in your business. “Prevention is better than cure.”

Call Our Office Today

We understand the challenges businesses face and can assist you in obtaining contracts that protect your interests. When you schedule an appointment with an attorney at Stross Law Firm, P. A., you are working with a dedicated attorney and advisor invested in helping you and your business succeed. The initial discussion is offered as a courtesy by calling (813) 852-6500.

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