Contrary to common belief, a contract lawyer does not render legal services on a part-time or temporary basis. When two or more parties go into an agreement, they do so orally or in writing. While both are valid ways of entering into an agreement, a written one has more legal consequences. This written agreement is formally called a contract.
A contract is a document that will legally bind two or more parties that go into an agreement. It also gives all parties involved and outsiders privy to the content of the document the details of what has been agreed upon. There are specific elements that must be included before an agreement can be considered a contract and, thus, legally binding.
Usually, there is a lot of legal language involved, and to the unlearned public, it can be a challenge to write or even see to the implementation of contract terms. However, these are the expertise of a contract lawyer who does not just draft a contract but also reviews its content.
The work of a contract lawyer is multifaceted and can span multiple industries, but they all have a few common roles, as you will learn in this article.
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Who is a contract lawyer?
A contract lawyer is a specialist who drafts and reviews legal contracts. They are expected to be well-versed in the format that contracts are drafted in, the requirements of contracts, and the laws and regulations that the contract should be subject to.
Legal contracts are like a manual of operation by which all parties bound by a contract will perform the activities detailed therein. Like most aspects of law, a contract lawyer must have the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise to review and even renegotiate the terms of the agreement for their clients.
Some lawyers specialize in business contracts, where they draft contracts for new partnerships, acquisitions, and many other aspects of running a business, like intellectual property law or even subscription contracts.
What does a contract lawyer do?
A contract lawyer drafts a contract for their client, including all these elements as required for the transaction needed. They also review contracts presented to their clients, analyzing them for loopholes that can be exploited and interpreting or giving their learned counsel on areas that are not plain enough to be understood by the client.
Depending on the industry or company a contract lawyer works in, their roles can include ensuring that acquisitions and merger contracts are properly written, employment and labor agreements or settlements are fair, and ensuring that all contracts are compliant with set regulations.
The ultimate goal of a contract lawyer is to ensure their client’s interests and rights are protected by any contract they sign. To do this, the contract lawyer will have to ensure the terms of the contract are enforceable while including or looking out for key elements in any contract they have to review or draft for a client.
The key elements or requirements of an enforceable contract:
There has to be a mutual agreement between all parties involved. This means that no party should have been conditioned to sign an agreement under duress. When there is mutual agreement, an offer is made, and there is an acceptance. This acceptance is a promise to perform according to the terms of the contract.
This is the condition that must be met before the court is able to deem a contract enforceable. However, this offer must be within the bounds of the law as it would be criminal to make another person a contractual offer to commit a crime.
A consideration entails the provision of a valuable entity for a mutual benefit by all parties involved must be part of a contract. This could be anything of commensurate value, like money or service provision in exchange for a benefit.
Terms and conditions of performance
The terms and conditions of performance of a contract encompass all the details of the contract. It captures details such as the date and time in which the performance of the contract would have been completed.
This element also outlines what would happen should there be a breach of contract by any party. It should also encapsulate what circumstances, actions, or events can be said to be a breach of the terms of the contract.
What does it cost to hire a contract lawyer?
The cost of hiring a contract lawyer is largely dependent on where they work. A contract lawyer could work for a law firm as an in-house counsel or set up their own practice. Law firm lawyers are usually more expensive to hire because the firms or organizations they work for add up the general costs of their operations to the services they provide. The latter group of contract lawyers who work for themselves costs lower to hire.
Another factor that influences the cost of hiring a contract lawyer is the experience and expertise of the lawyer involved. The more experienced the lawyer, the higher the cost. Also, some contract lawyers prefer hourly rates, while others just charge a flat fee.
It is usually advantageous for a potential client to request a flat rate. This makes it easier for them to know what fixed price they will have to pay and begin to draw up a budget for it. Whereas the hourly rate model charges the client for every hour spent drafting or reviewing the contract. This makes the final fee an indeterminate figure which may be beyond the budget of the potential client.
Contracts can be drafted by anybody and signed by the willing parties. However, it is in the best interest of the parties involved to employ the services of a specialist in this field.
These contract law specialists understand the nuances of the language used in contracts and also ensure that no term of the contract is contradictory to state laws or regulations.
Also, getting a contract lawyer to draft or review a contract saves you the trouble of having to deal with legal issues that may arise due to a contract that is not well-written or was signed by a party that is not legally competent.