Tips From the Trenches: Vol. 1 – Really. Get It In Writing.

Dear Valued Client,

I hope these brief Tips From the Trenches prove valuable. Check out my summer thank you certificate, at the bottom. jbw cropped headshot If there is a topic you would like to read about here, please let me know. Thank you for the opportunity to assist with your legal needs.

Jeanette Bowers Weaver, JD, MBA
Bowers Foreman, PLLC

Really. Get It In Writing.

The most important and basic legal advice is “get it in writing.” Unfortunately, it is commonly ignored legal advice. Just because there is a written contract does not mean you have what you need in writing.

80% of the calls I field each week involve situations where the parties (with or without legal assistance) discussed key terms, maybe signed a contract, and handed over money. Only later, the client made the painful discovery the contract did not identify an important term or terms.

In an economy where every dollar counts, even small mistakes of this kind can be painful. A good technique for avoiding this unpleasant discovery is:

  1. Write down a bullet-list of what you consider the key terms of the deal.
  2. Try to find a complete discussion of each term on your bullet list in the actual proposed contract document.
  3. Any missing, incomplete, or incorrect term should be revised before you sign the agreement. All exhibits or addenda to the agreement (including inventory lists, etc.) should be reviewed for accuracy and completeness before you sign the agreement.
  4. Never rely on a sales representative’s statement that you should sign now because the contract contains an “out” clause letting you cancel within a certain number of days or at any time.
  5. At a minimum, the final proposed agreement should be reviewed by a contracts attorney before you sign it.

After you have signed an agreement, there is no basis to force the other party to change the contract terms.