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D.I.Y. Danger Zone: Why Do It Yourself Contracts Don't Deliver

In recent years, many people have forgone typical big budget holiday shopping in favor of homemade, do it yourself gifts. While these handmade presents may be kinder to your bank account, there are some things in life that are better left in the hands of licensed professionals.

Contracts are an essential component 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. In some instances, 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, in fact, hurt you. The following are examples of the potential risks you face when you choose the do-it-yourself (DIY) route.

Illustration by Russel Christian

1. The Contract May Leave Out Key Provisions

Creating your own contract in an attempt to save money can unintentionally omit 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 your business.

2. Your Contract Could Be Unenforceable

Failing to understand the legal landscape can result in crafting a contract that, when litigated in court, is found to be unenforceable. For example, specific laws vary by state. As a result, a contract that is appropriate in one state could fail in another. For instance, employment agreements with noncompete provisions may be enforceable in Texas but unenforceable in California. In this case, the unsuspecting individual who uses a Texas contract for an employment agreement in California could be left with, at a minimum, a clause that will be thrown out, or quite possibly an entire contract that is useless.

Moreover, laws may change over time. Based on developing case law and legislative updates, a contract could become unenforceable. Specific terms and language may need to be added, removed, or revised in order to maintain legal force. These changes are nuanced and tend to be overlooked when using DIY contracts; this results in an agreement based on laws that are outdated or inconsistent with your business’ jurisdiction. Finally, there is a wide variety of legal rules that describe and dictate the necessary conditions for a contract to be deemed valid and enforceable. Failing to keep conditions regarding enforceability in mind can result in 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 your business legally liable. This is especially true given the complexity of boilerplate language often found in contract templates. The details hidden within boilerplate language may create obligations that you are not legally required to take on.

These various risks could culminate in increased liability, decreased protection, and expensive legal fees. The limited savings of a DIY contract are easily outweighed by the time and money that will be spent if any of these risks become reality in your business. As the well-known adage goes, “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 us, you can rest assured that you are working with dedicated professionals invested in helping you and your business succeed.

Give us a call at 314-759-6400.

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