Maryland Contract Review Lawyer
We enter into contracts far more often than we realize. Nearly every relationship we have, at least outside of our own home, involves some aspect of contract law. It could be an implied warranty that the food you buy at the store is fit to eat, or you could have a written agreement with your employer about your job and how much you get paid. When people think of “contracts,” though, they tend to think of lengthy written documents that are difficult to read. A contract review attorney can help you understand what a contract is saying, what it will require you to do, and how it will affect you. They can help you avoid a bad deal or unforeseen consequences, and give you ideas for what to ask for instead.
Rebekah Lusk and Steven Bright of Lusk Law, LLC are both Maryland contract review lawyers and small business owners. They have encountered many of the challenges that contracts often present. They understand how to spot possible problems in a contract and know how to correct them. If you have questions about a contract, please give Lusk Law, LLC a call at (443) 535-9715.
What Does a Contract Review Attorney Do?
A contract review attorney offers a particular kind of expertise. They have the ability to read and understand dense legal language and explain it to non-lawyers in plain English.
People often use the term “legalese” to describe the writing in contracts and other legal documents. They make a valid point. The purpose of this kind of writing is not ease of reading, but rather precision. Legal writing seeks to express ideas with as little nuance or ambiguity as possible.
In literature, the fact that different people can interpret a novel, short story, or poem differently is something to celebrate. In law, it is something to avoid at all costs. A contract that is subject to multiple interpretations would be impossible to enforce. The problem for non-lawyers, of course, is that this kind of language quickly becomes difficult to understand. When every important word must have a specific definition, the writing grows dense. Lawyers know how to read this kind of writing.
Services that a contract review lawyer can provide may include:
- Explaining what a contract says
- Interpreting how the terms of a contract might affect you
- Identifying ways in which a contract could damage your interests
- Suggesting changes to a contract to promote your interests
- Negotiating changes to the contract.
Contract review attorneys know how to look for all of the essential parts of a written contract. They can make certain that the contract is enforceable and that it protects your rights. They can identify all of the obligations it places on you and all of the rights it gives you. They can advise you about how the contract would affect other aspects of your life. They can also look for potential loopholes that could lead to unpleasant surprises down the road.
Suppose, for example, that you have a proposed contract for your services as a freelancer. The other party is offering you good pay, but you want a lawyer to review it just to be sure you have not missed anything. The lawyer finds a non-compete clause that prohibits you from working for any of the other party’s competitors, which would impact your ability to make a living.
Suppose instead that you are a small business owner who is about to lease retail space for the very first time. You ask a contract review lawyer to look at the lease agreement for the space. They find that, in addition to paying rent, the lease would make you solely responsible for making sure the building complies with local building codes. This is not part of your business plan, so it is good that they caught it.
Even if your contract review lawyer finds something that turns out to be unenforceable, the other party to the contract might drag you to court first in order to find that out. The contract review lawyer’s services can spare both you and the other party all of that expense and hassle.
What Kinds of Contracts Need a Contract Review Lawyer?
You could benefit from the services of a contract review lawyer for almost any kind of written contract that is more complicated than a simple exchange. A contract in which you pay someone $20 and they give you a tee-shirt might not even need to be in writing, let alone get reviewed by a lawyer. A contract in which you pay $2,000 per month in rent and they lease you an office, on the other hand, could benefit from a lawyer’s opinion.
Contracts that lawyers can review include:
- Real estate sales contracts
- Real estate leases
- Equipment leases, such as vehicles or machinery
- Business partnership agreements
- Shareholder agreements
- Contracts for the purchase or sale of a business
- Intellectual property licenses
- Employment contracts
- Freelance or other independent contractor agreements
- Warranties for goods or services
- Supplier or vendor contracts
- Service contracts
- Pre- or post-nuptial agreements.
How Do Lawyers Review Contract Agreements?
A contract review attorney can take several possible approaches to a contract, depending on what the client wants. Their review might be limited to one or more key issues, or they could review the entire contract and seek changes from the other party’s lawyer.
The simplest type of contract review focuses on specific issues brought by the client. The lawyer will read the contract with the client’s questions in mind and then address those questions. A client might ask:
- Will this non-compete clause prevent me from doing any other work in my area of expertise?
- Is it possible that this non-solicitation clause will interfere with my plans to start my own business in a few years?
- Will I own the intellectual property rights to works that I create, or will they belong to the other party?
- Does my business risk an employee misclassification claim because of this independent contractor agreement?
In a general review, also known as a basic review, the client might not have specific questions. Instead, they want to get the lawyer’s thoughts on the contract as a whole. The lawyer will review the contract to make sure it meets all the basic legal requirements. They can prepare an overview of the contract’s terms to present to the client, which explains each party’s rights and obligations and the penalties for breaching the contract.
The lawyer might also note any problems or concerns that they see in the contract, such as ambiguous wording that could make enforcement difficult, or potential loopholes that could hurt the client’s interests. Lengthy and expensive litigation has resulted from disagreements over the unclear use of seemingly simple words like articles or pronouns. Using “a” instead of “the” can change the meaning of a sentence far more than many people realize. Noticing these kinds of problems early on might avoid a great deal of trouble.
Review with Edits
Contract review at this level digs deeper into the text to correct potential loopholes and other problems. After the lawyer confirms that the contract contains all of the essential legal elements, they will identify possible problem areas. They might discuss these concerns with the client before proceeding, or they might go ahead and draft suggested changes to the contract’s language. The corrected text could clear up vague or ambiguous language or close other loopholes. Lawyers often refer to this process as “redlining.”
Review and Negotiation
The most involved form of contract review involves more than just reading and editing a contract. The lawyer will perform all of the contract review functions described above and then present their proposed changes to the other party or their attorney. The other party could accept the contract review attorney’s proposal, or they could make a counter-proposal that kicks off a negotiation process.
Get Help from Maryland Contract Review Attorneys at Lusk Law, LLC
At Lusk Law, LLC, we are advocates for life’s obstacles and opportunities. Rebekah Lusk, Steven Bright, and their team are dedicated to helping individuals, families, and businesses through all kinds of challenges. A skilled and experienced contract review lawyer in Frederick, MD, can help you avoid complications in business, real estate, and elsewhere.
If you have a contract you need help reviewing, or if you have other questions about contracts, please fill out our contact form or give us a call at (443) 535-9715.
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