You do not need a lawyer to draft or sign a contract. Is it in your best interest? Yes.
Before you sign or negotiate any form of a contract for your personal life or business, it is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer. Here are a few basic reasons why:
1. You may not fully understand the terms.
Contracts tend to use language that many readers do not fully understand. Even if the reader does understand they have to also consider what is implied and to what extent there are laws governing contracts and what those laws entail even if the contract does not expressly state those facts. For example, there are implied warranties that must be upheld even if the person who signed or drafted the contract had no intention of upholding a warranty. A lawyer will be able to explain all these elements of contracts to you and safeguard your interests.
2. Negotiations are tricky.
Negotiating a contract can be tricky and you should have someone making sure you are really understanding and accepting the terms. Another common mistake is assuming that you are just negotiating with another business. Many times, the other party does have a lawyer and you are out negotiated without even realizing it.
3. Elements of a Contract.
Sure, you can get a form off of the Internet and create your own unique contract. However, many of these forms are not set up in a way that pertains to every situation. Again, there are laws governing contracts and there is information you need to understand before drafting and signing a contract.
4. Common mistakes.
A really easy mistake to make is accidentally adding another party to the contract. When a contract is between two parties, it only need include the duties bestowed on those two parties. I have witnessed this mistake and it can be very hard to catch. Wording is everything.
Leaving out relevant information. This is very easy to do. Just because you discussed the terms with the other party does not make it official. EVERYTHING needs to be in the contract! The terms need to be specific to the point of nauseating.
Believing that you are unable to negotiate the terms. As a general rule, no contract is concrete. While I was in school, my teacher who was a lawyer told us how she completely changed her lease agreement to pay $200 less than every other tenant and have her rent include utilities. I am not saying that you will be able to pay less than everyone else, but most people are scared to even try. There are also terms you can have altered that will benefit you and your company.
Before signing a contract for a business, you should understand what the terms are and also what your options you may have to negotiate new terms. Having a lawyer at your disposal will help safeguard you and your business. A lot of companies do not seek legal counsel until they are being sued and by that time it is already to late.