What Is Contract Review?
Contract review is a process of reading and understanding a written agreement, often on a line-by-line basis. When a lawyer reviews a contract, they deeply analyze whether a contract is fair. They also look for loopholes to make sure you are protected once you sign the contract. A lawyer reviewing a contract may complete a few different key tasks, including:
- Examining the contract
- Explaining the contract to you
- Suggesting changes that would be in your best interest
Do You Need to Get a Contract Reviewed?
Contract review is an important component of any agreement made using a contract. This includes both business and personal contracts. All in all, if you're making a decision using a contract, you want to make sure you do not have a legal issue later on by having a lawyer review that contract before you sign it. Reasons to obtain a legal review of any contract include:
- Guaranteeing legality: You want to know your contract will stand up in court if necessary. A contract review will make sure all the terms used in the contract are indeed lawful and legal.
- Preventing misunderstandings: Having a lawyer review your contract will help ensure that all terms in the contract are clear. That in turn prevents parties to the agreement from misunderstanding what they sign.
- Minimizing legal problems: By ensuring all terms in a contract are both legally binding and understood by the parties signing the agreement, a contract review makes it less likely that future legal issues will arise.
What Is the Contract Review Process Like?
A contract review lawyer works with contracts, doing everything from creating and revising the document to helping you negotiate a contract's terms with the other parties. Contract review follows four general steps:
- Drafting the contract: A specific contract is created either by using a template or by having a lawyer write it.
- Reviewing the contract: A lawyer reviews the initial draft of the contract.
- Negotiating the contract: Once you have a contract draft you can work with, you can negotiate any changes you may want with the other parties (and vice versa).
- Signing the contract: After all parties to the agreement understand the terms of the contract and agree, everyone will sign the contract.
You can work with a lawyer to have a contract reviewed no matter which side of the process you are on. In other words, if you need to write a contract, a contract lawyer can be a big help. Likewise, if you are about to sign a big contract, you can first have that contract reviewed by a lawyer so you understand all terms and receive advice about any revisions you might need to request.
A contract review can highlight clauses or terms for you that are unclear or might cause problems in case of a dispute. The lawyer reviewing your contract can also show you clauses or terms that put you at a disadvantage or otherwise restrict your rights.
Once you understand your contract's legal consequences following an initial contract review, the contract lawyer can advise you on the best next step to take. Typical courses of action after a contract review include:
- Signing the contract as it is written
- Asking the other party to make minor modifications
- Asking for major changes to the contract
- Drafting an entirely new contract and then sending it to the other party
- Renegotiating the entire deal
What Types of Contracts Should Be Reviewed?
It's a good idea to have any type of contract reviewed before you sign it. Some common kinds of legal documents that require review include:
Employment contracts involving hiring someone to begin a new job or position. Key details of these contracts include:
- Intellectual property
- Job description
- Job security
- Non-compete clauses
- Non-solicitation clauses
- Start and end date
- Termination cause
Here is an article about employment contracts.
Freelancers may want to review larger contracts or contracts they plan to use frequently. Details reviewed will include:
- Ownership of work
- Payment amounts
- Scope of work
Real Estate Contracts
Many documents are involved with the selling, purchasing, or leasing of property. Examples include:
- Bills of sale
- Legal descriptions of property
- Mortgage loan documents
- Plot of land surveys
- Title insurance
Here is an article about real estate contracts.
Purchase agreements are contracts that transfer property such as vehicles, real estate, or other tangible assets from one party to another. Purchase agreements may involve many of the documents listed under real estate contracts as well.
Image via Unsplash via cytonn_photography
What Lawyers Look for During a Contract Review
A lawyer will look for many key details when reviewing a contract. This includes:
- Deadlines: If a task or tangible asset is due at a certain point, the contract should make this clear.
- Dispute resolution: A contract should clearly explain how parties can resolve disagreements that might arise over the course of the agreement.
- Blank spaces: A contract review will ensure you have not left any blanks unfilled in the contract. Though that may seem obvious, checking that all blanks have been filled in is very important. If you leave a space blank, someone could go back in and fill in something you would not otherwise agree to.
- Indemnification: Most contracts should have mutual language when it comes to indemnification. If a contract review reviews that only one party to the agreement is indemnifying, a lawyer will usually recommend you have that clause removed unless indemnification can be made mutual. Mutual language is important to include even in cases when one party could not be the cause of liability.
- Renewals: If a contract could be renewed automatically, the contract should specify whether or not you agree to automatic renewals.
- Representation: A contract should not give or accept any information that you do not know to be true.
- Responsibilities and rights: A contract should clearly explain what each party is entitled to as well as the obligations each party must fulfill.
- Risk allocation: A contract should detail how risk is allocated. Otherwise, you could run into a financial problem or another type of problem without clear guidance about who is at fault and how to fix the issue.
- Parties involved: A contract should use complete names to avoid confusion and list everyone involved in the agreement.
- Termination: A contract should specify possible causes for termination, detailing when, how, and under what specific terms a contract may end. A contract review will make sure the document contains appropriate language that defines the terms and process for breaking that contract.
- Terms: A contract is only a starting point, opening the possibility for further negotiation. You can negotiate terms you are not satisfied with. A lawyer reviewing the contract can point out terms that are not in your best interest. A lawyer will also check that all business terms used in the contract are accurate and legal.
- Warranties: Likewise, warranty terms should be clear in the final contract.
Whether you need to draft a contract or have received a contract to sign, you want to make sure you completely understand the terms and that the contract protects you legally. This is true of both business and personal contracts. Working with an experienced contract lawyer to review your contract will help you create a contract that does its job.
Meet some of our Contract Review Lawyers
Seasoned technology lawyer with 22+ years of experience working with the hottest start-ups through IPO and Fortune 50. My focus is primarily technology transactions with an emphasis on SaaS and Privacy, but I also provide GC services for more active clients.
I am a California-barred attorney specializing in business contracting needs. My areas of expertise include contract law, corporate formation, employment law, including independent contractor compliance, regulatory compliance and licensing, and general corporate law. I truly enjoy getting to know my clients, whether they are big businesses, small start-ups looking to launch, or individuals needing legal guidance. Some of my recent projects include: -drafting business purchase and sale agreements -drafting independent contractor agreements -creating influencer agreements -creating compliance policies and procedures for businesses in highly regulated industries -drafting service contracts -advising on CA legality of hiring gig workers including effects of Prop 22 and AB5 -forming LLCs -drafting terms of service and privacy policies -reviewing employment contracts I received my JD from UCLA School of Law and have been practicing for over five years in this area. I’m an avid reader and writer and believe those skills have served me well in my practice. I also complete continuing education courses regularly to ensure I am up-to-date on best practices for my clients. I pride myself on providing useful and accurate legal advice without complex and confusing jargon. I look forward to learning about your specific needs and helping you to accomplish your goals. Please reach out to learn more about my process and see if we are a good fit!
I am a NY licensed attorney experienced in business contracts, agreements, waivers and more, corporate law, and trademark registration. My office is a sole member Law firm therefore, I Take pride in giving every client my direct attention and focus. I focus on getting the job done fast while maintaining high standards.
A twenty-five year attorney and certified mediator native to the Birmingham, Alabama area.
Longtime corporate real estate counsel with specialities in commercial leasing, contracts, corporate governance, and general small business/startup/entrepreneurship legal issues.
I absolutely love helping my clients buy their first home, sell their starters, upgrade to their next big adventure, or transition to their next phase of life. The confidence my clients have going into a transaction and through the whole process is one of the most rewarding aspects of practicing this type of law. My very first class in law school was property law, and let me tell you, this was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I remember vividly cracking open that big red book and staring at the pages not having the faintest idea what I was actually reading. Despite those initial scary moments, I grew to love property law. My obsession with real estate law was solidified when I was working in Virginia at a law firm outside DC. I ran the settlement (escrow) department and learned the ins and outs of transactions and the unique needs of the parties. My husband and I bought our first home in Virginia in 2012 and despite being an attorney, there was so much we didn’t know, especially when it came to our HOA and our mortgage. Our real estate agent was a wonderful resource for finding our home and negotiating some of the key terms, but there was something missing in the process. I’ve spent the last 10 years helping those who were in the same situation we were in better understand the process.
Samantha has focused her career on developing and implementing customized compliance programs for SEC, CFTC, and FINRA regulated organizations. She has worked with over 100 investment advisers, alternative asset managers (private equity funds, hedge funds, real estate funds, venture capital funds, etc.), and broker-dealers, with assets under management ranging from several hundred million to several billion dollars. Samantha has held roles such as Chief Compliance Officer and Interim Chief Compliance Officer for SEC-registered investment advisory firms, “Of Counsel” for law firms, and has worked for various securities compliance consulting firms. Samantha founded Coast to Coast Compliance to make a meaningful impact on clients’ businesses overall, by enhancing or otherwise creating an exceptional and customized compliance program and cultivating a strong culture of compliance. Coast to Coast Compliance provides proactive, comprehensive, and independent compliance solutions, focusing primarily on project-based deliverables and various ongoing compliance pain points for investment advisers, broker-dealers, and other financial services firms.
Experienced General Counsel/Chief Legal Officer
Attorney Gaudet has worked in the healthcare and property management business sectors for many years. As an attorney, contract drafting, review, and negotiation has always been an area of great focus and interest. Attorney Gaudet currently works in Massachusetts real estate law, business and corporate law, and bankruptcy law.
Benjamin is an attorney specializing in Business, Intellectual Property, Blockchain, and Real Estate.
Ayelet G. Faerman knows what influencers mean to brands today. With experience as legal counsel for a beauty brand for over 5 years, and overseeing multiple collaborations, Ayelet has experienced the rise of influencer marketing. As the founder and managing partner of Faerman Law, PA her practice focuses on influencer relations including a specialization in contract negotiations.