What is a Contracts Lawyer?
A contracts lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in creating and reviewing contracts, advising clients on contracts, and helping clients get out of a contract or seek remedy for breach of contract. They know the laws that apply, typically state common law, court decisions, and the Universal Commercial Code.
Some lawyers who work with contracts have specialty areas, for instance, working strictly with large companies. Others may work with small business owners or individuals. Some focus on intellectual property contracts, real estate contracts, or other specific areas of contract law.
What Do Contracts Lawyers Do?
A contract lawyer specializes in the documents and agreements people make that are legally binding. They may work with big corporations only or be part of an in-house legal team, but many work with individuals too, assisting with smaller contract issues and disputes.
Some of the things contracts lawyers do for clients include:
- Draft and revise contracts
- Negotiate the terms of an agreement
- Read and review contracts before their clients sign them
- Advise clients on contracts and make sure they understand the terms and potential consequences
- Negotiate disputes over contracts
- Sue the party that breaches a contract for damages
- Defend clients that have breached a contract
- Find a way out of a contract for a client that will minimize penalties
When Do I Need Contracts Lawyers?
You may not need a lawyer for everyday, minor contracts, such as your cell phone contract or user agreements for new software. However, contracts that involve larger amounts of money, that last for long periods of time, or that could lead to serious consequences if breached, are much more complicated.
Any time you face a contract you don’t understand and with a lot at stake, it’s best to have a lawyer advise you. Lawyers can draft contracts to help you protect your interests in all kinds of deals and take legal action if someone breaches a contract. Consider talking with a contracts lawyer in situations like these:
- You have a transaction to make that involves a lot of money.
- You have been asked to sign a contract you don’t understand.
- You have a small business and will be entering into contracts with clients, vendors, and others.
- You’re worried that you signed a contract that is unfair or fraudulent.
- You want to get out of a contract.
- Someone has breached your contract, resulting in damages.
- Another party wants to renegotiate the terms of a contract or try to get out of it.
- You have tried to resolve a contract dispute without a lawyer and now feel you need to sue to recover damages.
The Benefits of Working with a Contracts Lawyer
You can draft, review, and sign contracts without a lawyer’s guidance, but it’s best to have an expert to advise you. Contract lawyers have expertise in the wording of contracts, the laws that apply, and the consequences of bad contracts. You’ll benefit from taking the time to work with a lawyer for your contract needs:
- Understand the legalese
Legal wording is notoriously complicated and difficult for laypeople to understand. Reading a contract you’re expected to sign can be overwhelming. An expert lawyer will be able to explain it all so that you can make the best decision.
- Get the best deal
A contract should be fair for all parties involved, but that’s not always the case. A lawyer will represent your interests and draft, review, or negotiate terms for a contract that gets you the best possible deal.
- Ensure contracts are legal
Not all written signed statements are true, legal contracts. If you’re entering into an important agreement, make sure it covers all the bases and is a legal, enforceable document, and doesn’t violate any laws.
- Remedy a breach of contract
It may be possible to manage contracts without legal advice, but when someone breaches an agreement, you need a lawyer to help you remedy the situation. They can communicate with the party that breached the contract, negotiate, or take them to court if necessary.
- Get out of a contract
It’s not always impossible to get out of a contract. If you want out, a contracts lawyer knows where the loopholes are and how to break them with the minimum penalties or fines.
How to Hire a Contracts Lawyer
Whether you need a lawyer for your small business or individual deals, choose someone with experience in this area of the law. Hire a lawyer who specializes in contracts and in working with clients like you. A corporate contracts lawyer is not the right person for you. Line up candidates and ask questions to interview the lawyers and choose the best one for your needs:
- How long have you worked in contract law?
- Do you handle clients like me?
- Do you draft contracts?
- Can you assist with a breach of contract?
- Can you litigate if I need to sue for breach of contract?
- What are your fees? Do you work hourly or by contract?
Working with Your Lawyer
When you hire a contracts lawyer, you trust them to have your best interests and create and review contracts in your favor. But you also have a role to play. Develop a good professional relationship, as you may be working with your lawyer for years to come.
Provide your lawyer with all the information they need to draft or review a contract. Be clear about what you expect to get out of a contract so that they can give you a document that meets your needs.
Keep in regular contact when dealing with contract disputes or other active contract issues. Your lawyer should keep you up to date, but you must also ask questions and be communicative.
Working with a contracts lawyer is the best way to ensure you get a fair deal in any contracts you draft or sign. The consequences of a bad contract or a breach can be serious. Avoid the worst of them by enlisting a contract legal expert.