Business Contract Lawyer
The buck stops with you, the business owner. Whatever your area of expertise, you are responsible for every aspect of the organization, but a business contract lawyer can help.
While the survival and success of your company depends on many factors — knowing the market, delivering a quality product or service at a fair price, often a hefty dose of luck — it’s critical that you have a knowledgeable business contract lawyer on your side to eliminate uncertainty in dealing with customers, vendors, and employees and to protect yourself when disputes do arise.
Lusk Law, LLC attorneys, Rebekah Lusk and Steven Bright, are experienced Frederick contract lawyers who are not only well-versed in the law. They are also small business owners themselves. As landlords and proprietors of a horse boarding farm, they understand the challenges, setbacks, and potential pitfalls that their clients face. And for this reason, they relate to the same passion that drives their clients.
Whether you are just beginning your business journey or you are a seasoned business owner looking to run a tighter ship legally, call the Lusk Law, LLC business contract attorneys at (443) 535-9715. We will be happy to discuss which types of contracts are relevant to your organization and help you draft them so that they are customized to your particular needs.
What Our Frederick Business Contract Lawyer Will Do for You
A Frederick business contact lawyer will handle all your contract needs so you can focus on your business.
As the owner of a business, you will need to work with all sorts of people and other companies: partners, employees, contractors, vendors, clients, and customers. In an ideal world, you would be able to seal a deal with a handshake and move forward with a shared vision and a healthy and productive relationship.
In the real world, you need to protect yourself by hiring a business contract lawyer to ensure that the terms for every relationship are in writing and are unambiguous and legally binding. The contract lawyers at Lusk Law, LLC will help you determine what contracts are needed and expertly draft them so you can focus on the day-to-day running of your company. Here are a few common types of business contracts:
- Employment contracts and offer letters
Employment contracts are legally enforceable oral or written agreements between an employer and employee that define terms and conditions of employment. An offer letter is a written notice to inform candidates that they have been selected for employment. It includes the details of employment, from the start date to benefits and the specific terms of employment.
- Sales contracts
A sales contract is a legal agreement between a buyer and seller covering the sale and delivery of goods, securities, and other personal property that outlines the terms of a transaction between them.
- Confidentiality agreements
A confidentiality agreement is a written legal contract between an employer and an employee which prohibits the employee from disclosing company confidential and proprietary information during and for a period of time after employment.
- Letters of intent
A letter of intent is a document stating the understanding between two or more parties which they intend to formalize in a formal or legally binding agreement.
A lease is a contract by which one party conveys land, property, or services to another party for a period of time, usually in return for payment during this time period.
- Supplier agreements
A supplier agreement is an agreement between a business and a supplier to establish the buying and delivery of products or services. These agreements can be used to measure and ensure the performance of a supplier.
Of course, this is far from a comprehensive list. You may need to borrow money to jump-start your business or sign a lease for office or retail space. The lending institution or landlord will likely have a standard contract in these situations, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be revised to be more advantageous to you.
At Lusk Law, LLC, we are skilled negotiators who will review boilerplate agreements and work hard to ensure every contract you sign represents your interests.
Hoping for the Best — But Anticipating the Worst
Why Business Contracts Are an Essential Protection for Your Business
Good business planning includes thinking of nearly everything that could go wrong. How would your business respond if an extreme weather event forced you to close for a week? Would employees still be paid? Would you expect them to work remotely? What if a vendor fails to deliver your widgets on time, but says it’s due to the failure of one of their vendors? How do you determine who is ultimately responsible? These questions can help you anticipate and prepare for challenges and avoid the unnecessary conflict that can lead to lawsuits.
Good business planning requires having contracts that are drafted correctly and that are enforceable. Our contract drafting attorneys can provide you a well-written document that is enforceable, clearly defines your rights and responsibilities and protects you from potential liabilities in a contract that could hurt your business.
Our Frederick Contract Lawyers Help When There is a Breach of Contract
We make sure all parties uphold their responsibilities.
A contract is a legally binding agreement that should be beneficial to all parties involved. When one party fails to uphold their side of the agreement, that’s considered to be a breach of the contract.
At Lusk Law, LLC, we are always ready to effectively represent our clients in court, if necessary. But our goal is to save our clients the time and expense of a court case by providing them with strong, unambiguous, and comprehensive contracts. When terms are clear from the get-go, businesses are less likely to end up in litigation arising from a dispute. To learn more about how to protect yourself and your company, call (443) 535-9715. If you are in a position where you need to take legal action based on a contract’s being breached, our team is skilled at business litigation and can help lead you through the process.
Maryland Contract Basics
Maryland law recognizes five basic components of a contract:
- Competent parties – Adults who are mentally capable of understanding the terms of the contract
- Offer – The proposal by a party to take an action and/or pay for goods or services
- Acceptance – Approval of the terms and conditions of the offer, as may be evident by the signatures of the parties to the agreement
- Consideration – The agreement specifies consideration, which means all parties gain something from the transaction (for example, a rental contract specifies that a landlord gets rental income and a tenant gets a place to live)
- Performance – Performance is when the contractual obligations are fulfilled (for instance, your tenant has paid rent on time for 12 months and moves out at the end of the lease, having provided 30-days’ notice).
Legal issues may arise if any of those five requirements is in question or is non-existent. For example, if a tenant has a move-in date of May 15, but you fail to provide the keys on time, the tenant could have legal claim for non-performance.
What Happens When There is a Dispute Over a Business Contract?
When a contract dispute arises, it may end up being a matter for the court to resolve. A court may find a contract unenforceable due to:
- Misrepresentation – This means one party has deliberately made a false statement or withheld information essential to the contract. Landlords who fail to provide tenants with a lead-based-paint disclosure, if required for the property, before entering a rental agreement could be found liable for misrepresentation because they withheld essential information.
- Unconscionability – This term means a contract is clearly unfair and that the contract’s consideration benefits one party significantly more than the other. In a contract dispute involving musician Lady Gaga and her former boyfriend, Lady Gaga claimed the contract was unconscionable because she signed it when she was 18, and her boyfriend, who was 38 at the time, used his knowledge of the music industry to take advantage of her inexperience for his own financial gain.
- Lack of competency – Generally, a contract signed by a minor is unenforceable, because a minor is not considered competent to sign a contract. A person who cannot read, or who doesn’t speak English but signs a contract written in English, may be found to lack the basic competency required for signing a contract. The same is generally true for people who have a severe cognitive impairment, such as dementia.
- Violation of a state or federal statute – Any established state or federal law takes precedence over a contract. So, if a trucking company had an employment contract that required drivers to work more than the federally mandated maximum number of driving hours, that contract would be unenforceable.
- Non-specificity – There are plenty of contract templates online, often offered for free. But you have no way of knowing who prepared the document, how recent it is, or whether its terms would comply with local laws of the state or county. In addition, a contract that lacks specifics is difficult to enforce.
The best way to avoid entering into an unfair or illegal contract is to consult a business law attorney. Never sign a contract until your attorney reviews it, and get legal help in creating the contracts you use in your work.
Our Business Contract Attorneys Explains Basics of Employment Contracts
Employment contracts can help or create problems, depending on how they are drafted.
Employment contracts can be useful for business owners in protecting their interests. But contracts can also cause problems if the wording is ambiguous or if they fail to include important information.
Whether you’re just preparing to hire your first employee or you’ve been using a standard employment contract for years, Lusk Law, LLC, can ensure that your contracts are legally sound. We focus on providing legal guidance to small-business owners. That includes drafting or revising documents that are necessary to the success of your business, including:
- Non-compete agreements
- Short-term/temporary worker contracts
- Contracts for full-time employees
- Contracts for senior-level staff.
Most employment relationships don’t last forever, so business owners must consider that employees will one day leave the company – either voluntarily or involuntarily. To avoid being sued for wrongful termination, companies must clearly explain in writing their processes for disciplinary action and termination. Contact Lusk Law, LLC today to schedule a consultation.
Employment contracts may also include information about:
- Job responsibilities
- Pay, including when employees are paid
- Time off, including procedures for requesting time off
- Bonuses or commission
- Stock options and profit sharing
- Travel expenses or mileage
- Rules regarding use of company equipment
- Explanation of “at will” employment, meaning the employee can leave voluntarily or be terminated at any time.
Contracts will vary, depending on the nature of the business. For example, in healthcare professions, businesses will need to include language about patient privacy and the confidentiality of records. Some businesses may also want a non-disclosure agreement to protect proprietary information.
Businesses may want more than one type of contract. Some companies have separate agreements employees must sign, acknowledging policies on harassment, discrimination, and workplace violence. Our business contract lawyers at Lusk Law, LLC are experienced with a wide range of business contracts and can help draft one for you to protect you well.
Review of Existing Employment Contracts
Perhaps you have outdated and/or boilerplate employment contracts that you’ve been having your employees sign, but that you believe may come up short and leave you vulnerable. A contract lawyer has the knowledge and legal expertise to determine exactly what your contracts should cover, review your existing documents, and revise them so they are compliant with Maryland and federal law and tailored to the needs of your company.
Protect Your Business with a Non-Compete Agreement
Our business contract lawyers make sure your non-compete agreements protect you.
You’ve put money, sweat, and untold hours into starting and growing your business. Competition may be tough. The last thing you want is an employee walking away to start a rival company, possibly taking your customers with him, or an existing organization luring away one of your workers along with your trade secrets.
One clause in an employment contract that can eliminate these scenarios — and one that small-business owners often overlook — is the non-compete agreement.
A non-compete agreement is a clause that states that an employee may not enter into competition with an employer for a certain period of time. At Lusk Law, LLC, our job is to represent the interests of our clients. When drafting a non-compete clause or reviewing an existing one, we are mindful of protecting the business, remaining compliant with Maryland law, and making sure the demands on the employees are reasonable. Ambiguously worded or overly restrictive non-compete clauses risk being disputed and declared invalid in court.
Avoid Misclassification with Help from a Frederick Contract Lawyer
There are two types of workers: employees and independent contractors. Sometimes, business owners make the mistake of assuming someone they’re paying is an independent contractor when, in fact, that person is technically an employee. Learn more about how to correctly classify a worker as either an independent contractor or an employee.
Here are some of the differences between employees and contractors:
- Contractors set their own hours and use their own equipment; a worker who is expected to work certain hours and who uses company equipment would be considered an employee.
- Employees do work that is essential to the company – for example, managing day-to-day operations of a restaurant.
- Contractors pay all of their own taxes and do not receive employer-paid benefits.
Make Sure Your Business Contracts Related to Workers Pass the ABC Test
Maryland has adopted what is commonly called the ABC Test to help determine whether a worker is an employee or a contractor. For purposes of the Workplace Fraud Act and the state’s Unemployment Insurance law, a worker is considered to be an employee unless:
- The individual is free from direction and control;
- The individual is customarily engaged in an independent business of the same nature as that involved in the work; and
- The work is outside the usual course of business of the person for whom it is performed OR the work is performed outside any place of business of the person for whom it is performed.
When hiring temporary workers, it’s important to understand the differences between contractors and employees. The Internal Revenue Service and Maryland’s Division of Labor and Industry have stepped up enforcement in recent years regarding misclassification of employees. Maryland is especially concerned with the construction and landscaping industries, although it’s illegal to misclassify any employee in any industry. This is the case whether the misclassification occurred intentionally or by mistake.
The business contract attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC can guide business owners through the intricacies of the Workplace Fraud Act and make sure every worker is classified correctly — thus avoiding confusion and costly penalties. Call us at (443) 535-9715.
Get Help from the Lusk Law, LLC Frederick Business Contract Lawyers
Rebekah Lusk and Steven Bright of Lusk Law, LLC excel at advising businesses, because they are business owners themselves. In running a law firm, an investment and rental property company, and a horse boarding facility, they have learned a lot about anticipating and preparing for many eventualities. An iron-clad contract ensures that every party — employers, employees, contractors, vendors, clients — understands their role and responsibilities, minimizing the likelihood of misunderstanding. It’s just good business. And it is critical for protecting your company and your livelihood.
Our business law attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC, focus on helping business owners interpret and create contracts, putting them in the best position to avoid litigation. As advocates for life’s obstacles and opportunities, our experienced attorneys provide legal counsel and representation to business owners and individuals in Frederick, MD, and surrounding counties.
If you need help with or have questions about contracts, please call us at (443) 535-9715 or fill out our contact form.
We’re your advocates for life’s obstacles and opportunities.
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