A Note From Paige
Do You Read Before You Sign?
In the essence of saving time and headaches, we many times find ourselves blindly agreeing to terms of service (TOS) contracts. Admit it: it can be downright frustrating each time you want to download a new song from iTunes because the TOS have changed yet again, so you blindly click “Agree” and go about getting the new soundtrack to The Hunger Games. While these sorts of TOS are typically nothing to fret about, all too often, people will breeze through TOS and other boilerplate contracts that have heavier implications.
When making a large investment or striking a business deal, some people never bother to read all the fine print of contracts they sign. Even judges admit
to just skipping straight to the “Sign Here” portion of contracts. Needless to say, this simply isn't smart. It’s important to take the time to read these documents, because while they are tedious, they are also legally binding and you should know what you are signing.
Little Known Fact:
All Contracts Are Negotiable
Right now, there are quite a few NBA hopefuls preparing for The Final Four this weekend. If all goes well, following their college basketball wins and graduation, some of these athletes will be signing contracts to play in the pros. And you can bet good money that when it comes time to go to the signing table, they’ll each have a representative with them who has gone over that contract with a fine-toothed comb (and who has most likely done some wheeling and dealing on behalf of the client).
But only high-level, specialized contracts can be negotiated and not the ones most of us encounter, right? Wrong. Many people are under the false impression that most contracts are set in stone. What you may not realize is that you have the ability to negotiate with pretty much any contract; you just have to speak up. For example, in a business situation, the company issuing the initial contract will most likely put in a provision that should any litigation arise, it must take place in its state courts. Even if you aren’t an expert, you are probably much more familiar with your own state’s laws. And odds are that the attorney who represents your business is based in the same state and would have a better grasp of its legal nuances. Out of state litigation will increase costs due to logistics like travel expenses and the additional legal costs associated with adapting to another state’s requirements. An attorney in the foreign state will likely have to be hired if the attorney working on the deal isn't licensed to practice in that particular state.
With an attorney in your corner, you have an expert who is able to review contracts and who works to adapt the contract in your favor. Some common areas where negotiation can make a difference are:
Dates (e.g. effective, completion, termination, renewal, etc.)
These are just a few of the areas where having an attorney can make a big difference. We have a trained eye to identify these and other areas that can be negotiated in a contract or agreement. The slightest rewording of a statement can have a huge impact on your business and your livelihood. If you should find yourself in the position of having to sign an agreement and you have questions, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with an attorney. You deserve the opportunity to have your voice represented in every contract you sign.