The Great Contract Fairy in the Sky

13 09 2011

We write a lot of contracts.  We review a lot of contracts.  There is a common misperception about contracts that should be cleared up.

Often, the misperception appears when a client asks us for “X” type of contract.  Maybe it’s a “Service Agreement,” or a “Writer’s Agreement,” or something else.  We then ask for details.  Invariably, we are asked to produce “just a simple, standard form.” 

The impression most people seem to have is that lawyers have a connection to the Great Contract Fairy in the Sky and just pick up the phone and say “can you send down a Writer’s Agreement?  Thanks.”  Sometimes a person will just do a search for the type of contract, and send us what they found to review.

But there is almost never a standard agreement.  While there is a lot of “boilerplate” that can be copied from past agreements, even that is not standard!  For instance, do you want faxed signatures to be treated as originals?  Do you want the contract to be binding as of the last signature date or some specified date? What do you want your remedies to be in case of breach?

It is not a matter of knowing which form to use or having access to the right one.  It’s a matter of putting on paper the expectations and obligations of each side.  You can certainly use something that you find online, or draft yourself.  But you will then be bound to that.

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