Best Contract Attorney in Los Angeles & Trusted California Business Lawyer
Experienced Contract Attorney in Los Angeles. Experts in breach of contract issues and resolving contract disputes in California. Call us at (855) 200-2889.
Whether you’re getting ready to start a business, have been running your company for years, or are doing work with another business or entity, contracts are part of getting the job done. Everything from your office space lease to vendor orders and employment agreements falls into the category of contracts. While some arrangements are rather straightforward, others are incredibly complex. That being said, it’s crucial that you work with a contract lawyer in Los Angeles to ensure that your contracts work as intended.
What is a Contract?
A contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties. Most of the time, contracts are written. Oral agreements, however, are legally enforceable, even if they can be hard to prove. Contracts must contain three parts:
For an agreement to be binding, there must be an offer. The party that initiates it is often referred to as the offeror. The offer is given with specific terms.
For example, your neighbor may propose selling his car to you for $500. Your neighbor, in this scenario, is the offeror.
When an offer is made, it must either be accepted as is, met with a counteroffer, or refused. If the offer is rejected, there is no agreement. You can accept your neighbor’s offer to sell his car for $500.
You could also counteroffer and agree to sell if he lowers the price to $450. You could also counteroffer with another condition, such as that you’ll buy the car for $500, but he must first replace the broken taillight. Your counteroffer isn’t legally binding unless your neighbor agrees.
An offer is made and then accepted; there must be an exchange of consideration to create the agreement formally. The term consideration is a way of saying that something is being exchanged for something else. Most of the time, the exchange is money for a product or service. If you and your neighbor come to an agreement about the car, the consideration would be an exchange of money for a vehicle.
Without this consideration or exchange, the agreement is not enforceable. For example, your neighbor can’t just park his car in your driveway and then claim you owe him $500. On the flip side, you couldn’t give $500 to your neighbor and then take ownership of the car. Without consideration, there is only a discussion, a possible contract, or a gift.
The other thing worth considering is that all parties must be able to enter into the contract legally. In other words, the parties must understand what they are agreeing. The perceived lack of understanding is why minors cannot lawfully enter into a contract.
Emotional illness or mental handicaps can also keep someone from being able to enter into a agreement legally. Contracts are also not typically valid if entered under duress or pressure. Of course, rules defining legal requirements for entering into a legal agreement can vary from state to state. The state of California, for example, does not recognize oral contracts for real estate purchased; these agreements must be in writing.
What is a Contract Attorney?
The primary responsibilities of a contract lawyer are to draw up, revise, and review legal documents. Businesses and law firms use contract attorneys for a variety of tasks. Here are some of the areas contract lawyers take on to assist businesses:
- Regulatory and compliance requirements
- Preparing case strategies
- Assisting in discovery stages of a legal case
- Real estate transactions
- Reviewing and updating employee manuals
- Employment and labor issues
- Supporting a litigation team
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Legal research
- Intellectual property issues
- Conducting depositions
- Drafting settlements
- Preparing annual documents and reports
Contract attorneys often perform many of the same duties as an in-house lawyer would do. It’s common for law firms to hire a contract lawyer to help with heavy workloads or quick help in specialized areas. It’s becoming more common for employees to be hired via contract, so contract lawyers are taking on more small business work than they have before.
When to Hire a Business Contract Lawyer
You may not always need a business contract lawyer. It is beneficial, however, to work with a contract lawyer to help negotiate the terms of an agreement.
Lawyers are often excellent negotiators. They also can help you consider alternatives. If nothing else, a contract lawyer can go over the terms and clauses presented in the contract.
Avoid Contract Templates
Many small companies look for contract templates they can use. These templates might be free or cost a small fee to download.
The problem is that these stock contracts can be problematic. State and local laws are not always the same around the country. It’s also hard to know if an attorney drafted the template you’re using.
The standard language can end up causing issues that make the agreement invalid or cost a great deal of money to fix. When possible, involve a lawyer when the contract is being initially drawn. Getting your attorney involved from the beginning allows for better negotiating and ensures everything is above board.
Can I Get Out of a Contract?
Contracts are legally binding and cannot be voided because one party changes its mind. This is why care must be taken when entering into a contract. Having an attorney look over the agreement before signing it will ensure you are comfortable with the terms.
There are times, however, when a deal needs to be broken. This could be because the contract doesn’t meet legal requirements or was invalid from the start. In these cases, the contract is considered void. Other valid reasons to break a contract are:
Contract Is Impossible to Fulfill
Doing what the contract calls for is known as performance. If one party fulfills their agreed duty, he or she is said to have performed.
For example, you sign a contract to buy your neighbor’s car so long as he fixes the tail light. If the neighbor makes the repair and hands over the car, he performed. If you pay the agreed-upon amount, you performed.
There are times when something happens that makes it impossible to fulfill the agreement. If, for example, your neighbor’s car was stolen from his driveway. He can’t sell it to you, even if you’ve already paid. The impossibility of fulfilling the agreement terminates the contract.
Contract Based on Fraud, Misrepresentation, or a Mistake
A contract can be broken if one of the involved parties does something improper or makes a mistake. For example, let’s say you agree to buy your neighbor’s 2005 Dodge Ram truck. Upon further inspection, you learn that the truck is actually the 1995 version. Even if your neighbor didn’t know the truth about his truck’s year of origin, the misinformation is enough to cancel the contract.
Not being legally able to enter into a contract would also fall under this category. If your neighbor forced you to purchase his car at the threat of violence to your family, the agreement could be broken. It would also be true if you were sick and unable to make sound decisions or were a minor when you agreed to the deal.
If one side breaches the contract, the other side is not bound to perform. A breach happens when:
- One party refuses to do his or her part. For example, let’s say your neighbor decides not to fix the broken taillight after agreeing to do so, he has breached the contract.
- One party does something he or she isn’t supposed to do. If your neighbor decides to add a spoiler to the car or removes all four tires, you may not be required to buy the car.
- One party prevents the other party from doing something required under the agreement. If you interfere with your neighbor’s attempt to make tail light repairs, he may be able to break the agreement.
In cases such as these, it’s important to consult an experienced breach of contract attorney in Los Angeles.
Contract Has an Escape Clause
While they aren’t actually called escape clauses, prior agreements can lead to a contract’s end. The deal would contain some kind of provision as to how it can be terminated. If the defined conditions are met, the contract is ended. These provisions must be clear and specific as unclear language may have a multitude of interpretations.
For example, let’s say you decide not to buy your neighbor’s car, but instead, agree to lease the vehicle. The agreement might say that the lease can be broken so long as notice is provided 30 days prior and in writing. So long as you provide written notice of your desire to end the lease in time, the contract would end.
Whether you want to end a contract due to its invalidity, another party has breached an agreement, or you need help solving contract disputes, get the help of an experienced contract attorney in Los Angeles.
Choosing the Best Contract Lawyer
Choosing a contract lawyer for your business does not have to be an arduous task. Even though the number of commercials, billboards, and bench ads touting different law firms can be overwhelming, there are several things you can consider to help find the best option.
When to Get Legal Representation
Your needs will vary. In general, the sooner you establish a relationship and start getting legal advice, the better off your business is going to be. At the same time, legal advice isn’t free.
There is a balance of what you can afford and what you need. Of course, legal work isn’t something on which you can skimp. A good rule of thumb is to have a lawyer before you do something that could get you in trouble. It’s best to have an attorney before you actually need one.
Even if your lawyer doesn’t know the ins and outs of your particular business, he or she must be willing to learn. If your industry is highly regulated, you definitely want an attorney who understands the laws surrounding your business. Hiring legal counsel who isn’t willing to learn about your niche could result in unenforceable contracts and loss of time and money.
Size of the Law Firm
Your business needs will determine if you need a big firm, small firm, or solo practitioner. Each size firm has its pros and cons. If you run a small to medium-size business, a large firm may not be your best bet, although that is not always the case.
Larger firms may have more prominent clients to worry about, which means your small business may not feel like a priority. You also may not know who is actually working on your case as tasks at larger firms are often delegated. While large firms often have more significant resources, they can also have higher prices.
Smaller firms will often provide more individual attention and work on building a relationship with your business. Larger firms may not have the time to learn the ins and outs of your industry, but smaller firms will often take the necessary time to be the most effective.
Your lawyer shouldn’t shy away from talking about how fees are calculated or charged. Most business lawyers work on an hourly basis and will bill for different increments of time. There are some lawyers and tasks that are advertised a flat fee, including mainly routine jobs. Make sure to have this conversation up front so you can best understand how you will be billed and if that system works for you.
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Best Civil Attorneys has a reputation for being honest, professional, and astute. Our team is committed to you and your small business. We take the time to explain all of the legal issues and options in the necessary detail to ensure you understand the situation and process.
Regardless of whether you are starting a new business or need help keeping your current organization running smoothly, we have the passion, experience, and expertise to make a difference. Contact us today!
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