What Does a Contractual Lawyer Do?
A contractual lawyer is an attorney who drafts and revises contracts and other legal documents. You need contracts in a number of areas of your life, including both business and personal transactions. A contractual lawyer is a legal professional who may be responsible for:
- Drafting contracts.
- Enforcing contracts.
- Executing contracts.
- Managing contracts.
- Reviewing contracts.
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Contractual lawyers are becoming more and more common. As a contract is a legally binding agreement between you and one or more other parties, it's very important that you make sure any contract you use is done right. Hiring a contractual lawyer can facilitate the process to ensure your contract will do its job and stand up in court if challenged.
What Is a Contract?
A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that is legally enforceable. Any party can turn to a court to enforce a contract. Contracts help ensure that parties to a transaction are clear regarding the terms of an agreement.
Typically, contracts must be made in writing to hold legal weight. Some oral contracts may also be legally enforceable. A contract is legal only if both or all parties enter into it voluntarily and free from any duress. If a party of the contract does not fulfill the terms outlined in the contract, they are committing a breach of contract.
What Is Contract Law?
Contract law is a body of law relating to making and enforcing agreements. This area of law governs various aspects of contracts, including:
- Making contracts
- Carrying out contracts
- Creating a fair remedy in the case of breach of contract
You're using contract law any time you conduct business. Consumers and companies alike use contracts when:
- Buying and selling goods
- Licensing activities or products
- Making agreements for employment
- Making agreements for insurance
Valid contracts allow these transactions to happen smoothly, without misunderstandings for any of the parties involved so that all parties can conduct their affairs with confidence.
Parts of a Contract
If you're forming a contract, you must include four key parts to make it valid:
- Offer: One party needs to make an offer first. The offer should state the terms the first party wants the other party or parties to agree to. If the other party agrees to the terms of an offer, they may accept the offer.
- Acceptance: Once the second party accepts an offer, the contract is complete. However, the accepting party must do so on the original offer's terms. They also must make sure the first party knows they have accepted the offer. If the second party wants to propose different terms, the contract is not complete. The terms are instead a counteroffer, and the first party must accept the counteroffer or propose a new counteroffer themselves.
- Consideration: Consideration is the term for when each party gives something up. All valid contracts require consideration. A contract is an exchange, and each party gives something up to get something else that they want. For example, an employer agrees to give up money while another party agrees to give up labor in an employment contract.
- Mutual intent to enter into a contract: All parties must intend to be bound by an agreement for the contract to be valid. Parties may not have a mutual agreement to enter into a contract if a document states that it is a statement of intent. Informal agreements between two friends are examples of this.
How Do You Know If You Need A Contractual Lawyer?
It's a good idea to work with an experienced contractual lawyer any time you need to draw up a contract. Legal contracts include wording and formatting that must be very specific and correct in order to be legally binding.
Working with a contractual lawyer makes sure that your documents are:
- Admissible in court
- Free of potential loopholes
Here's an article about essential contracts for your small or growing business.
You should consult with a contractual lawyer when:
- You're drawing up a legal document
- You believe someone has broken a contract you entered into with them
- You want to get out of a contract
In situations when you need to go to court, you will also likely need to seek out a lawyer specializing in litigation.
What Should You Expect When Working With a Contractual Lawyer?
Working with a contractual lawyer will allow you to feel confident in the agreement or contract you will use. Once your document is complete, you should expect that:
- The document is legally binding
- The document will hold up in any court
- You understand all terms you agree to, and you're comfortable with the full contract — your contractual lawyer should explain all terms to you
If you have issues with the contents of a document, your contractual lawyer should work to clear up these issues for you, so the end product works for your needs.
Knowledge, Skills, and Experience
You can also expect that contractual lawyers are familiar with all aspects of the contractual process so that they can protect the bottom line of their clients. Contractual lawyers need to understand both express and implied terms of a written agreement and know the best way to enforce an agreement if a party to the contract fails to perform their obligations. A contractual lawyer will be aware of regulations and laws that apply to specific contractual agreements as well as the latest decisions from courts about a particular area of law.
If you're working with a contractual lawyer to create a contract for your business, you should choose one who possesses knowledge in the contracts for your field. Areas of expertise can include:
- Intellectual property rights
- Purchasing and selling services and/or goods
Regardless of the type of contract you are creating, your contractual lawyer should have these general skills:
- Negotiation: Contractual lawyers are good negotiators who know how to represent their clients and their needs.
- Research: Contractual lawyers will research legal developments, enabling them to draft and approve contracts that will stand up in court and not contain any loopholes.
- Writing: Contractual lawyers use writing skills to demonstrate their clients' positions through the contract, and they will understand how to use different templates, clauses, and wording to create a strong contract.
Here's some further reading about writing a clear legal document.
Contractual lawyers have experience and competence in various aspects of contract law. Experience translates to:
- Mastery of the law applied throughout the process of creating a contract.
- Insight into foreseeable issues that could come up, and the ability to guard against those issues when finalizing a contract.
- An ability to make provisions for alternative methods to resolve disputes.
How Much Does a Contractual Lawyer Cost?
You can work with a contractual lawyer who either uses a flat-rate service or charges by the hour. You and your lawyer will set a flat or hourly rate for them to deal with your legal contract. Projects may include:
- Writing a contract
- Reviewing a contract
- Consulting on a contract
The scope and details of your project will determine the overall cost.
A valid contract is essential any time you're making an agreement for business or personal use. If you're creating a contract, you want to make sure you work with a contractual lawyer that you can trust to create a clear, strong document.