Contract Review

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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:

  1. Drafting the contract: A specific contract is created either by using a template or by having a lawyer write it.
  2. Reviewing the contract: A lawyer reviews the initial draft of the contract.
  3. 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).
  4. 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:


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Employment Contracts

Employment contracts involving hiring someone to begin a new job or position. Key details of these contracts include:

  • Benefits
  • Compensation
  • Exclusivity
  • 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.

Freelancing Contracts

Freelancers may want to review larger contracts or contracts they plan to use frequently. Details reviewed will include:

  • Deadlines
  • Ownership of work
  • Payment amounts
  • Revisions
  • Scope of work
  • Termination

Real Estate Contracts

Many documents are involved with the selling, purchasing, or leasing of property. Examples include:

  • Bills of sale
  • Deeds
  • Legal descriptions of property
  • Mortgage loan documents
  • Plot of land surveys
  • Titles
  • Title insurance

Here is an article about real estate contracts.

Purchase Agreements

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

ContractsCounsel verified
Healthcare Law and Employment Expert
12 years practicing
Free Consultation

Pura Rodriguez, JD, MBA is the President and Managing Partner of A Physician’s Firm, based in Miami. She represents healthcare providers from different specialties in a broad range of issues, including contract review, business planning and transactions, mergers and acquisitions, vendor and contract disputes, risk management, fraud and abuse compliance (Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark), HIPAA compliance, medical staff credentialing, employment law, and federal and state regulations. She also assists providers in planning their estates, protecting their assets, and work visa requirements.

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
12 years practicing
Free Consultation

Jaclyn is an experienced intellectual property and transactional attorney residing and working in NYC, and serving clients throughout the United States and internationally. She brings a targeted breadth of knowledge in intellectual property law, having years of experience working within the media, theater, PR and communications industries, and having represented clients in the music, entertainment, fashion, event production, digital media, tech, food/beverage, consumer goods, and beauty industries. She is an expert in trademark, copyright, and complex media and entertainment law matters. Jaclyn also taught as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law, having developed and instructed the school’s first Trademark Practicum course for international students. In her spare time, Jaclyn’s passion for theater and love for NYC keeps her exploring the boundless creativity in the world’s greatest city!

ContractsCounsel verified
Principal
3 years practicing
Free Consultation

A bilingual attorney graduated from J.D. with a C.P.A. license, an M.B.A. degree, and nearly ten years of experience in the cross-border tax field.

ContractsCounsel verified
Lawyer
14 years practicing
Free Consultation

Experienced and business-oriented attorney with a great depth of contract experience including vendor contracts, service contracts, employment, licenses, operating agreements and other corporate compliance documents.

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
24 years practicing
Free Consultation

With over 24 years of practice, Chet uses his vast experiences to assist his clients in the most efficient manner possible. Chet is a magna cum laude graduate of University of Miami School of Law with an extensive background in Business Law, Commercial Real Estate, Corporate Law, Leasing Law and Telecommunications Law. Chet's prior experience includes 5 years at two of the top law firms in Georgia and 16 years of operating his own private practice.

ContractsCounsel verified
Managing Partner
41 years practicing
Free Consultation

Steve Clark has been practicing law in DFW since 1980. He is licensed in both Texas and Louisiana state and federal courts. He concentrates his practice on business clients and their needs. He has been a SuperLawyer in Texas since 2011, and is Lead Counsel rated in Business Law. He is also a Bet the Company litigator in Texas.

ContractsCounsel verified
attorney
13 years practicing
Free Consultation

I am a top-performing bi-lingual legal services professional with a proven record of success. Reputation of assessing and evaluating client’s needs and providing individualized solutions in line with those needs while efficiently handling multiple tasks simultaneously. Able to create a collaborative work environment ensuring business objectives are consistently met. Seeking an attorney role within a legal setting to apply skills in critical thinking, executive communications, and client advocacy.

ContractsCounsel verified
Managing Partner
12 years practicing
Free Consultation

I run a small law firm in Pasadena, CA. I have been practicing for almost 10 years and the other attorneys at my firm each have 12+ years of experience. We focus on business and employment law, protecting and defending business owners. While my clients are all sizes, I particularly enjoy helping smaller companies and individuals manage their legal needs without the high price tag.

ContractsCounsel verified
Principal
41 years practicing
Free Consultation

I have over 25 years' experience representing individual and company clients, large and small, in transactions such as mergers and acquisitions, private offerings of securities, commercial loans and commercial endeavors (supply contracts, manufacturing agreements, joint ventures, intellectual property licenses, etc.). My particular specialty is in complex and novel drafting.

ContractsCounsel verified
Litigation Attorney
6 years practicing
Free Consultation

I assist individuals and businesses across the state of Florida with contract drafting, contract interpretation, and issues that may arise because of contract terms, including demands (cease-and-desist letters) and litigation. I have experience with general service contracts, non-compete agreements, privacy policies, website terms, settlement agreements, and many other contracts. Please reach out if I can help you with a contract-related project!

ContractsCounsel verified
Attorney
6 years practicing
Free Consultation

Brianna is a well-respected New York licensed attorney with a Juris Doctorate degree in law from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law School and bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Dowling College. Since becoming an attorney, she has practiced in various areas including business law, corporate law, residential real estate, commercial real estate, criminal law, traffic law, employment law, landlord tenant law, estate planning, and has represented intermediaries in procurement and the personal protective equipment industry. Brianna has broad and extensive business experience; She is an entrepreneur and co-owner of a microtechnology manufacturing company that was built by her and her partner, where she also served as the Chief Legal Officer and Human Resource Manager for the company. While building the manufacturing business, she created a brokerage firm for business transactions and has managed several other businesses which she has ownership interest in. Brianna’s involvement in these various businesses over the past 15 years provides a unique skillset to her clients; Not only does she understand contractual principals and obligations from a legal perspective while drafting and negotiating agreements, but she also has the foresight, experience, and ability to ensure the agreement reflects the practical aspects of the business. Based on the client’s needs and desired outcome, she has the forethought to cover different angles that would be overlooked from a legal standpoint, and as a result she is able to help prevent unforeseen business ramifications. She conducts extensive risk assessments on behalf of her clients and minimizes exposure to potential liability without “over lawyering” agreements. One of Brianna’s main areas of focus is drafting and negotiating agreements. Negotiation is a passion of hers which was applied in law school while she was a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, notably winning Touro Law School’s intraschool negotiation competition. In her more recent years, Brianna has removed herself from her various business interests to focus on her law practice. Brianna has a strong moral compass and believes in quality over quantity. She treats every client as a top priority; thus, she will not take on many cases at a time because she wants to give each client the focus and attention they deserve. She has sharp attention to detail and is a forceful advocate for every client. Brianna has broad and extensive business experience; She is an entrepreneur and co-owner of a microtechnology manufacturing company that was built by her and her partner, where she also served as the Chief Legal Officer and Human Resource Manager for the company. While building the manufacturing business, she created a brokerage firm for business transactions and has managed several other businesses which she has ownership interest in. Brianna’s involvement in these various businesses over the past 15 years provides a unique skillset to her clients; Not only does she understand contractual principals and obligations from a legal perspective while drafting and negotiating agreements, but she also has the foresight, experience, and ability to ensure the agreement reflects the practical aspects of the business. Based on the client’s needs and desired outcome, she has the forethought to cover different angles that would be overlooked from a legal standpoint, and as a result she is able to help prevent unforeseen business ramifications. She conducts extensive risk assessments on behalf of her clients and minimizes exposure to potential liability without “over lawyering” agreements. Additionally, she specializes in drafting and negotiating agreements. Negotiation is a passion of hers which was applied in law school while she was a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, notably winning Touro Law School’s intraschool negotiation competition. In her more recent years, Brianna has removed herself from her various business interests to focus on her law practice. Brianna has a strong moral compass and believes in quality over quantity. She treats every client as a top priority; thus, she will not take on many cases at a time because she wants to give each client the focus and attention they deserve. She has sharp attention to detail and is a forceful advocate for every client.

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