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

View Jason
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June 12, 2022

Jason Q.

Attorney / Owner
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Sarasota, Florida
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Wake Forest University School of Law

I am a Florida estate planning and probate attorney helping clients achieve their goals through personalized legal strategies. Excellent communication, thorough preparation, and accurate execution are the keys to success.

View Michael
Member Since:
June 13, 2022

Michael T.

Lawyer
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Fairfax, Virginia
32 Yrs Experience
Licensed in DC, MD, VA
College of William and Mary

I have been in practice since 1990 and practice in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. I am an experienced litigator and look forward to resolving your legal questions as efficiently as possible.

View Richard
Member Since:
June 20, 2022

Richard G.

Attorney
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Greensboro, NC
2 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NC
University of Elon School of Law

Hello! I am an Iowa native trying to bring some Midwest problem-solving to southern civil law. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know the individuals and businesses I assist. I practice estate planning and business formation and, with my litigation experience in mind, I help clients plan to ensure they and their interests are protected in the future.

View Danielle
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July 12, 2022

Danielle G.

Attorney and Founder at Danielle D. Giovannone Law Office
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Schenectady, NY
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Fordham University School of Law

Danielle Giovannone is the principal of Danielle D. Giovannone Law Office. In her experience, Danielle has found that many business do not require in-house legal counsel, but still need outside counsel that knows their business just as well as in-house counsel. This need inspired Danielle to start her firm. Before starting her firm, Danielle served as Contracts Counsel at Siena College and as an attorney at the New York City Department of Education, Office of the General Counsel. At the NYCDOE, she served as lead counsel negotiating and drafting large-scale commercial agreements, including contracts with major technology firms on behalf of the school district. Prior to the NYCDOE, Danielle worked as an associate at a small corporate and securities law firm, where she gained hands-on experience right out of law school. Danielle has provided legal and policy advice on intellectual property and data privacy matters, as well as corporate law, formation and compliance, employer liability, insurance, regulatory matters, general municipal matters and non-profit issues. Danielle holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and a B.S. from Cornell University. She is active in her Capital District community providing pro bono services to the Legal Project, and has served as Co-Chair to the Niskayuna Co-op Nursery School and Vice President of Services to the Craig Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization. Danielle is a member of the New York State Bar Association.

View Michael
Member Since:
July 14, 2022

Michael J.

Partner
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Warren, New Jersey
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ, NY
New York Law School

Combining extensive experience in litigation and as general counsel for a real estate and private equity company, I provide ongoing guidance and support to clients on a variety of transactional matters, including business formation, partnership agreements, corporate agreements, commercial and residential leasing, and employment issues.

View Anand
Member Since:
July 17, 2022

Anand A.

Counsel
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Philadelphia, PA
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NJ, PA
Rutgers University School of Law

Anand is an entrepreneur and attorney with a wide-ranging background. In his legal capacity, Anand has represented parties in (i) commercial finance, (ii) corporate, and (iii) real estate matters throughout the country, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Arizona, and Georgia. He is well-versed in business formation and management, reviewing and negotiating contracts, advising clients on financing strategy, and various other arenas in which individuals and businesses commonly find themselves. As an entrepreneur, Anand is involved in the hospitality industry and commercial real estate. His approach to the legal practice is to treat clients fairly and provide the highest quality representation possible. Anand received his law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in 2013 and his Bachelor of Business Administration from Pace University, Lubin School of Business in 2007.

View Christopher
Member Since:
August 16, 2022

Christopher M.

Corporate Counsel
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North Cariolina
2 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
California Western

I am a corporate attorney with several years of experience with contracts, corporate and business, government projects, and employment law.

View Marc
Member Since:
July 28, 2022

Marc S.

Attorney
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Henderson, Nevada
41 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NV
Southwestern University

Have been practicing real property and business law in Nevada for over 40 years. No longer handling any litigation, transactional matters only.

View Howard
Member Since:
July 29, 2022

Howard B.

Managing Member
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Tulsa, Ok
9 Yrs Experience
Licensed in OK
University of Tulsa

Berkson is a dedicated, practical, and detail-oriented attorney licensed to practice in every state court of Oklahoma and the United States Northern and Eastern District Courts. He graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law with Honors. While there, he received awards for highest grade in trial practice, legal research, and civil procedure. He was also the Executive Notes and Comments Editor for the Energy Law Journal, the official journal of the Energy Bar Association in Washington, D.C. The Energy Law Journal is one of the few peer-reviewed journals in the legal profession. Prior to becoming an attorney, Howard Berkson held executive positions involving a wide range of business and human resources management functions. He has in-depth knowledge of both business and HR practices. During his business career, Berkson negotiated, wrote, red-lined, and disputed contracts. He has answered charges, handled inspections, and supervised audits involving numerous agencies including the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and various state agencies. Berkson honed his analytical and writing skills while earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Washington. He went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois. Berkson’s work can be found in such publications as The Energy Law Journal, Human Resource Management Review and Personnel Psychology. He is a member of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

View Erik
Member Since:
July 31, 2022

Erik D.

Attorney
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Tampa
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Stetson University College of Law

Erik has been a practicing attorney in Florida for over a decade. He specializes in employment and real estate contracts. He has represented clients big and small and can assist with any contract issue.

View Domonick
Member Since:
August 1, 2022

Domonick G.

Attorney
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Houston
1 Yr Experience
Licensed in MO
Thurgood Marshall School of law

I am a licensed attorney who specializes in business law, personal injury and contracts.

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