What Is a Contract Attorney?
A contract is a legally binding document that enforces an agreement between two or more parties. A contract attorney helps draft contracts, often drives negotiations between parties, and revises or adds amendments to existing contracts. You may use a contract attorney to look over an agreement before you sign. A business may hire a contract attorney on retainer for when it requires contracts for normal business dealings.
Because laws and regulations are always changing, many people and businesses like working with contract lawyers so that their agreements are in line with the law and can help avoid any liabilities and risks in entering into a contract. A contract attorney is ultimately responsible for protecting the client's rights and interests.
Contract attorneys have a variety of experiences, too. Some of them have worked in specific areas of law, like real estate, estate planning, business, or personal injury, before becoming a contract lawyer. These attorneys can bring additional knowledge to their work on top of knowing the ins and outs of contracts and the laws that rule them. Other contract attorneys may be practicing in a field of law, but do contracts to supplement their normal income.
What Does a Contract Lawyer Do?
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A contract lawyer has a number of responsibilities. While the main one is drafting, executing, and revising contracts and legal documents, they may also:
- Perform research. A contract attorney can come up against many challenges when writing out a contract, so it's important that they do their research to make sure that what they are writing is enforceable and valid. They'll perform legal research on things like previous cases and applicable laws.
- Serve as an advisor to management. A contract attorney has a good idea of what a business may want to include in a contract and what they may not be able to include depending on state contract laws. Armed with this knowledge and the experience of drafting other contracts, the attorney may be tasked with advising executives.
- Provide litigation support. Sometimes, an individual or company may be involved in litigation pertaining to an agreed-upon contract. A contract attorney can then be called upon to support those involved in litigation by serving as an expert on what happens during a breach of contract.
- Draw up a variety of contracts. There isn't really any limit to the types of contracts that a contract lawyer may be involved with. They may draft contracts for real estate transactions, labor and employment, intellectual property, divorce, settlements, and even annual documents and reports for a business.
- Negotiate. It's very common to go through a negotiation process before executing a contract, and a lawyer who specializes in contracts can help with this. They'll be involved during the negotiations so they can amend the terms and conditions and advise the party they represent on what's in their best interest.
- Maintain records. Every party involved in the contract should receive a copy of the contract, as should the contract lawyer who prepared it. Part of the contract attorney's job may be to hold on to these records so anyone who may need them has easy access. Learn more about the importance of maintaining records .
- Manage renewals. Some contracts have renewals written into the agreement. For example, a customer may enter into an agreement with a business that's providing a service. The contract may state that there is an annual renewal of the contract that must be signed for the business relationship to continue. A contract attorney will be responsible for keeping track of renewals and getting them executed before the expiration date.
- Respond to customers, vendors, and partners. As the one drawing up the contract, a contract attorney may be responsible for contacting and responding to all parties that are involved in the agreement. This list can include business partners, customers, and vendors who may have questions about the contract or want to express their concerns about something in the terms.
To do all this, a contract lawyer must be detail-oriented, organized, effective in communication and writing, and skilled in performing important research.
When You May Need a Contract Attorney
There are so many situations that may warrant a contract attorney. In general, a contract is needed for any business transaction, and it's a good idea to have a contract attorney to facilitate the contract process. Consider a contract attorney if you are in one of the following scenarios:
- You are a small business that is using freelancers to take on some work on behalf of your company.
- Your company is in talks to merge with another.
- Another company or individual is interested in licensing products you've created.
- You're involved in a real estate transaction as either the buyer, seller, or investor.
- You are leasing out or renting a piece of property.
- You're a freelance employee who is performing a service for a company.
- You own a business and are looking for investors.
- Your business is sharing proprietary information with investors or employees and needs a no-disclosure agreement.
- You're an insurance business that is entering into an agreement with an organization that provides insurance benefits to its employees.
Of course, this list of scenarios isn't exhaustive. Consider speaking with a contract attorney if you are entering into any legal situation where a contract is necessary. They can help draft the document or at least review something that has already been drawn up so you can understand if you should sign it or not.
Benefits of a Contract Attorney
Aside from helping you or your business execute a contract, working with a contract attorney can also include these benefits for the average company:
- Fills any knowledge gaps. There is not one attorney who has all the knowledge and experience you could possibly need. There are bound to be some gaps you'll identify over time that a contract lawyer may be able to fill simply by being an expert in the field of contracts.
- Keeps payroll costs low. A contract lawyer doesn't have to be employed full-time at your organization. Unless you have the need for someone on staff, you can choose to only engage a contract attorney's services when you need some help with creating or revising contracts.
- Assists with bandwidth issues. If you are a business or law firm that has someone on staff who can draw up contracts and handle the entire process, but doesn't really have the bandwidth to do so at the time, a contract attorney may be your ideal solution. The contract lawyer can come in and alleviate the pressure from your in-house counsel, or at the very least, assist them with their tasks if this contract process is more detailed and nuanced than others.
Working with a contract lawyer is necessary if you want to make sure any contract you're entering into is valid, enforceable, has your best interests in mind, and is admissible in court. An experienced contract attorney can also make sure that there aren't any loopholes in your contract, that you are adequately protected, and that the contract accounts for any potential liabilities and risks. When you have an expertly written contract, you are safer from contract litigations and are more likely to enjoy the business relationship that drove the contract in the first place.