When I was growing up people often told me that I “should be a lawyer” because I like to argue. I admit that I have been cursed (or maybe blessed) with the opposition reflex. But more than that, my analytical nature compels me to decipher and examine rather than blindly agreeing to what people say or do. To this day this attribute (or fault) has offended many who have experienced this with me.
I have worked with lawyers and often find the company lacking. Many lawyers are not so nice. But they do serve a purpose. Plus, I have been fortunate enough to know some attorneys who are good people. (Maybe it is only bad when you work with them…okay some of them). I learned a lot while working for two great attorneys who practiced in transactional law (contracts and the like).
Since being at university I have met some folks who needed help with their project or idea. I have worked as a contractor for others. Some of these folks have presented me with what they believe to be contracts, agreements or legal documents. There is one micromanager that wanted me to sign a nondisclosure (for an idea that was not secret or proprietary) and non-compete for the whole of Florida. Details extend beyond the parameters of this post but the point here is that some regular folk—not with any legal experience—seem to think they can draft legal documents.
If you are agreeing to something; know what you are agreeing to do; or not do. If you are working for someone under contract understand the contract you have signed. For you Jim Carrey fans, think Liar, Liar. When Jim Carrey’s character got a client out of a prenuptial agreement because she had not reached the age of majority when she signed the document and therefore could not enter into a binding agreement.
Some red flags to look out for before you execute an agreement. Does the entity exist? Can you search the repository of corporations, limited liability companies, fictitious names in your state and find them listed? If so, is the entity in good standing? Is the person listed on the agreement listed on the formation documents for the entity? Or use the super simple proof reading test—does the document make sense? Are there typos, grammar errors and the like? If there are then NO attorney drafted the document. Because if one thing is certain; it is that legal documents must be right and attorneys are pretty picky that way.
All this makes me wonder just a bit. What if the document is not correctly written? Can it still be enforceable? Moreover, if the person giving you the agreement is unable to retain an attorney to draft documents for them, are they really going to come after you with a law suit? As you may know, that takes money too.
Be sure to listen to next Monday’s podcast when we will go over some consumer protection information in connection with legal documents, work for hire and other things on how you can protect yourself from simply by virtue of having a little more knowledge.