Dangers of drafting your own documents

SHOULD I PAY A LAWYER TO DRAFT A CONTRACT OR JUST PLUG NAMES INTO A TEMPLATE – WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

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In today’s DIY world, there are some things that should be left to the professionals.

We’ve compiled a top ten list of just some of the dangers you can run into when using templates or drafting your own documents. These are all things that we’ve actually seen in agreements.

  1. Using the wrong document. One classic issue is grabbing the first consulting agreement that shows up on the web, without realizing that it’s drafted to be one-sided in favor of the other party. 
  1. A 4-line agreement with no end-date or ability to terminate. Lasts longer than most marriages…
  1. The Frankenstein agreement. The drafter takes clauses from multiple documents and sews them together without realizing that some concepts are being covered two different ways by two different clauses.
  1. Undefined terms. Every other word in the agreement is uppercased, but not defined. 
  1. Fancy words.Malfeasance” and “devolve” – nobody knows what these mean. 
  1. Illegal clauses. Not all states will honor a non-competition clause imposed on a rank and file employee – California is one of them. 
  1. Integration clauses. The drafter includes an “entire agreement” clause . . . but it doesn’t reference its own schedules and exhibits! 
  1. Backdating deals. Rather than enter into an agreement on November 30, 2016 that is effective as of June 30, 2016, the drafter wants to pretend the contract existed before it was actually signed. Under the wrong circumstances, the drafter opens herself up to fraud claims. 
  1. Termination. Includes material breach as a way to terminate, but doesn’t say if the non-breaching party still gets paid from the party in breach. The non-breaching party gets injured twice. 
  1. Training. An agreement to provide training, without any details on the number of hours or for how many weeks the training will last.

Sometimes the pitfalls come in piecing together an agreement from multiple sources, grabbing a document you’ve used before and trying to repurpose it to a new situation, or downloading a “boilerplate” agreement from the internet for free. Whatever the method, it usually ends up costing you more to have your attorney fix your attempt at drafting than it would have been to have your attorney draft the documents from the get-go.

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