Many of our clients are increasingly turning to the Internet to find legal forms. Routinely, we see a contract form or other legal document that a client has purchased or downloaded for free from a website. Unfortunately, the use of these forms often causes problems for one or all of the following reasons. First, the client picks the wrong form. Or, the form is poorly written. Or, thirdly, the form fails to comply with Indiana law or local ordinances. Finally, there is a significant gap between well-drafted legal forms from sites like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer, contrasted with websites that do not offer forms drafted and approved by lawyers.
We think that there is a better way to obtain and use contracts in your business. Here are some basic steps a business can take to ensure that the right contracts are in place to protect the business.
Step 1 – Ask your lawyer first.
Chances are good that your business lawyer has already written or has access to professionally written forms. Remember that one bad legal document resulting in a dispute can cost you many times more than paying for a professionally drafted and selected contract. This is easily the most cost-effective way to find good legal forms.
Step 2 – If a good form exists, use it.
Most transactions can be handled through the use of a good form, and it is unnecessary to hire a lawyer to custom draft a document. Many good forms can be found on sites like LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer, and some of those higher quality sites even offer consultations with a licensed lawyer to assist you in the drafting of your document.
You may prefer to use a Virtual Law Service, which is a reduced-cost means of purchasing a legal form drafted by an attorney licensed in your state. Griffith Law Group offer such services via its virtual law office: www.IndianaVirtualLaw.com.
Step 3 – Know how to pick the right form.
Unfortunately, only training and experience can help you determine when to use one particular deal structure over another. That is why it is highly advisable that you consult with an attorney to learn and understand which documents to use and when. A good attorney will take the time to train a client on the proper selection and use of legal documents.
Step 4 – Remember local laws.
City or town ordinances, state laws and federal laws all can impact what a contract must do or avoid. Unfortunately, we often see businesses use a national form that fails to incorporate state or locals laws.
Step 5 – If you need a custom document, then hire a lawyer.