When a business client comes to me with a problem, about 80-90% of the time, the problem has to do with enforcing or defending a contract. The conversation usually goes something like this:
Him – “We had agreed that he would provide 1000 units per month, but now he’s not complying.”
Me – “So where is that in your contract?”
Him – “He said we didn’t need to put it in there because we agreed on that part orally.”
Me – “Why didn’t you have a lawyer draft your contract?”
Him – “Lawyers are too expensive.”
Me – “They are if you hire them only after the dispute arises.”
Over and over, I meet clients who have a dispute that would never have had to go to litigation if their contract or their standard forms had been drafted properly. When you’re considering whether to hire a lawyer to do the work, or to save money by copying a form off the internet and filling in the blanks, first consider how much of your business’s money is going to be affected by this agreement or form; will the sales contract cover the sale of $80,000 a year of merchandise sales? Will the terms you put into your standard forms govern 90% of your business’s transactions? In those cases, it may be worth it to pay an attorney a few hundred dollars to draft a form, or a few thousand to draft a complex contract.
Its true that legal fees can add up and can get expensive, but in my entire career, I’ve never had a dispute arise where the legal fees for making the contract right in the first place wouldn’t have cost a tiny fraction of what the legal fees for the dispute eventually cost. There are some situations where something may be so inconsequential that you really don’t need an attorney to do the work, but if the consultation is free, why not get the attorney’s opinion on it first, and make it an informed decision?
I may make less money that way, but it makes me happy when my clients don’t suffer.