As a California business owner, you may find yourself engaging in contracts for your company. Whether you are entering into an agreement with a vendor, hiring your next rock star employee, or agreeing to work for a client, contracts are a more significant part of the business than you might think.
At their base level, contracts are reasonably straightforward. One party offers something to another party in exchange for something else. Unfortunately, most business contracts are not this straightforward and require a civil attorney in Los Angeles to ensure the agreement is legal and fair.
Hiring a business lawyer might seem like an expense that your business can’t afford. The reality is that your business may not be able to avoid the legal expertise of a seasoned professional. Entering into an unfair agreement puts your business at risk. Moreover, drafting a poor contract could hurt your company’s reputation and bottom line. Instead of taking unnecessary chances, consider hiring a contract attorney to help ensure you’re working on a level playing field.
Here is what you need to know about business contracts and why hiring a Los Angeles civil attorney is in your best interest.
Business Contracts Defined
The most basic definition of a business contract is a legal document where parties agree on what is expected and required of each party. Business contracts are a bit more involved than regular, civil contracts, even if they both have some of the same foundational pieces.
A business contract must include the names of those involved. That means the legal business names must be included as well as defining who is the vendor and who is the customer. Those signing the contract must also have signing authority to enter the company into an agreement.
As for the meat of the contract, there must be an offer, considering, and acceptance. The offer is what the vendor is offering the customer. For example, a design firm may offer to build a fledgling pizza company with a new website. A consideration is what the vendor gets in return. This could be money, goods, or services.
In our example, the pizza company could pay for the website or offer a certain number of pizzas in exchange for the work. The web company might request the initial consideration, but the pizza shop can offer something else.
Until there is an agreement, there is no contract. The acceptance is when both parties agree to the terms. A contract has been born.
Where it gets complicated is when contracts include other elements: deadlines, termination instructions, alternative options, penalties, how conflicts are resolved, limitations, and more. Local, State, and Federal laws can also influence the terms of a contract.
As you can imagine, dealing with a more complicated agreement can be overwhelming to the untrained. Contract lawyers specialize in knowing relevant laws and have a keen attention to detail.
Types of Business Contracts
There is an endless amount of potential contracts businesses can use. Your specific needs depend on your company’s industry and needs. There are, however, four standard types you may encounter.
Some of the most common and practical contracts deal with sales. These contracts can determine how different goods and services are sold, purchased, and returned.
At its base level, an employment contract sets the terms for an employee’s work. As part of that contract, there may be guidelines for non-disclosure, non-compete, pay-rate, benefits, and more.
While not signed all that often, property contracts can be some of the most important. Leases or property purchases can set a company up for success or failure. It’s crucial to know what’s included in a property lease and how it might impact your business.
General Business Contracts
From the formation of a company to settlement agreements and everything in-between fall under general business contracts.
While oral contracts can be considered legal, they are difficult to prove in court. Instead of taking someone at their word, make sure to get all contracts in writing. This precaution might seem like overkill in some cases, but it protects your business in case something goes sideways down the road.
You Need Help
While you may be able to handle the most straightforward contracts, like bills of sale, there are other types of agreements that can benefit from professional assistance. Most business contracts are going to include conversations (offer), negotiations (considerations), and an agreement (acceptance).
Business attorneys are often skilled negotiators, as well as having specialized expertise. That means they can help ensure that you’re getting a good, fair deal.
If a contract is missing an essential element, the entire agreement can be deemed invalid. There can also be issues if the parties trying to make the agreement don’t have signing authority, one of the parties uses deceptive tactics, or anything illegal is part of the deal.
Without a professional by your side, it could be easy to fall into a trap, even if it’s done by accident or ignorance. Imagine spending hours going back and forth with another company to form an agreement, only to find out that it isn’t legally enforceable. Not only did you lose time, but anything you put up could be unrecoverable.
When drafting a contract, you want to make sure that it’s valid and fair. Using deceptive methods to take advantage of unsuspecting businesses, clients, or employees can cost you a great deal down the road: money, your reputation, or your entire business.
Hire A Contract Attorney Today
While there is an expense associated with hiring an attorney, it is in your company’s best interest to ensure your contracts and agreements are correct from the get-go. You can rely on them to do all of the work in drafting an agreement, or simply come to them to review and update something you’ve already created. Often, your lawyer can help draft something that can be reused in similar situations with minor changes as opposed to starting from scratch each time.
Most importantly, working with a civil attorney for your company’s contract needs provides peace of mind that your agreements are fair, legal, and enforceable. You can operate with confidence that you’ve made good decisions and have resources if the other party doesn’t follow through with their part of the bargain.