As a lawyer, it’s my job to assess client risk. To put it simply, risk stems from the relationships that exist in your business? why? Because relationships are dynamic, complex and often disputes arise out of those relationships because of ambiguities, mis-managed expectations, and failure to account for or properly allocate duties and risks. So, what are the relationships that we’re speaking of? Simple. There are three tiers of relationships within your business: relationships between the business owners, relationship with those that are working for the business (employees and independent contractors), and relationships between the business and its customers/clients.
Where do contracts come into play? Contracts are the method of memorializing the terms, conditions, duties, and expectations of the business relationship. Forget the “legal-ease” that goes into a contract for a moment and think about that prior statement. What does that mean for you? Well, for starters it means that if something is important to you it should be part of your contract. If you expect something of your counter-party, and it is important to you, then make sure it is in writing. Plain and simple. In more detail that means that you should outline what your are promising and what you specifically are not promising in your agreement; what you expect of the other party and what might be a deal breaker; what are your key assumptions and exclusions; what will be the process of performing work and how will services be rendered under the agreement; what key assumptions are you relying upon in order for you to be able to perform your work.
This is one of the reasons I personally, but quite seriously, advise clients to shy away from cheap services like RocketLawyer or LegalZoom. One size rarely fits all because relationships are complex and require some case by case analysis in order to achieve a fair and reasonable result for all.