While we might all have been told to honor our words and handshakes, the hard truth is that not all of us live by honor.
That’s why God — or lawyers, rather, invented contracts. While you can now find sample contracts online or draft one on your own, you always need a contract review attorney to revise it.
But how do you know that your contract review attorney has done the best job? How do you know that the document works with your applicable contract law?
Here are the questions you need to ask:
1. What Can and Can’t I Require?
Let’s suppose you run a graphic design agency and you want to hire a freelance designer to work for you.
You might want to include a confidentiality and intellectual property clause within the contract. This can state that all graphics made by your freelancer becomes the property of your company.
But what about any graphics they make in their free time? What about the graphics that they make that aren’t commissioned by your company? This could be a gray area on what is permitted by contract law and what isn’t.
Your first question for a commercial contract review is to ask about what rights you can demand and what’s out of bounds.
2. How Many Revisions Are Expected?
Contract negotiation is a huge part of preparing contracts for your business. You have to expect that the other party will want a few edits to your contract.
This means that after proposed edits, you’ll have to ask your contract review lawyer to scrutinize the document once more. Or, perhaps, several times more!
One of the most important questions to ask is how many revisions are expected. While you want to finalize a contract as fast as possible, you must know that this won’t always be the case.
In fact, while you’re preparing a contract, a law can get changed. This means that you might have an unexpected review once again. A contract review attorney can never give you an exact number of revisions but they can give you an educated estimate.
3. What’s the Cost?
This shall go down in history as a question that no one wants to ask their lawyer. But it’s one that you can’t and shouldn’t avoid.
Your lawyer might charge a flat rate for the initial contract review. They might then also charge another rate for each subsequent review.
If this cost is too high, then you might want to ask about hourly billing. In some cases, this might be a cheaper option for you. You must also ask about what constitutes a revision.
For example, let’s say there are a few basic spelling and grammar errors in a revised contract.
Obviously, you’ll need to ask your contract review attorney to make corrections. However, this shouldn’t be considered a revision and shouldn’t incur any additional charges.
Regardless of the pricing structure, make sure you also ask about payment plan options. For the average person, lawyer fees are extremely expensive. You want to be able to finalize your payment within a few months or even years if needed.
4. How Busy Are You?
This is another embarrassing question but one that needs to be asked. Your contract review attorney will have a river of contracts to wade through.
While an attorney will always ensure you get your work completed on time, you might not feel comfortable if they’re burdened with other clients. You might want an attorney who can focus solely on your contracts.
Ask them how busy they are and how many clients they currently have. This will give you an idea of their schedule. Large law firms are able to handle several clients at once. Smaller ones often prefer to work on a few cases throughout the year.
You can also ask them if they have paralegals or legal assistants to help them with the review. This can also expedite their review of your contract.
5. Do I Need to Switch Attorneys?
If you aren’t pleased with your attorney, you have every right to switch to another attorney.
Don’t hesitate to bring this up if you feel that your attorney isn’t doing a great job on your contract review. In some cases, your attorney can recommend you to other law firms.
If the law firm has several attorneys, you might be able to choose which specific attorney you wish to work with.
6. Can You Translate These ‘Greek’ Portions?
Okay, perhaps you shouldn’t word it exactly like that. You know the phrase ‘it’s all Greek to me’ refers to language that seems incomprehensible.
When looking at a contract, there’ll be a lot of legalese that you won’t understand. Make sure you ask your contract review attorney to explain, in Plain English, what they mean.
Take your time with this and don’t offer your contract until you have a complete understanding of what it means.
7. What Is the Appropriate Jurisdiction?
This is the trickiest part of a contract which samples often don’t cover. The contract is only applicable if it falls under a particular jurisdiction.
In many cases, it’ll be registered under the jurisdiction where you live. But in some cases, you might register it under a different state. Sometimes, it might fall under the purview of Federal Law.
Of course, local laws can’t conflict with Federal Law in most cases. Nothing can violate the Constitution either. Sounds confusing? It is — and that’s why you must ask your contract review attorney to help you check the contract law of the appropriate jurisdiction.
Hire a Contract Review Attorney
Now you know how a contract review attorney can assist you and what questions to ask them.
Make sure you ask them about what clauses are appropriate and which ones are out of bounds. You also want to get a rough estimate of how many revisions to expect.
Don’t hesitate to ask about pricing options and your attorney’s availability. You should also have a complete understanding of the contract before completion. Ask them to help you register the contract under the appropriate jurisdiction.
If you want to stay on the button with the law, visit our website for other legal tips.