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We have been hearing rumors for years that online contract templates will take the place of contract attorneys. That may happen someday, but you will not likely meet a contract attorney concerned about this probability. In fact, the use of online contract templates has increased the business of most firms that specialize in both contract law and civil litigation. So, PLEASE DO NOT PULL A CONTRACT TEMPLATE FROM THE INTERNET!!! You have been warned! Let’s dive into why this is such a bad idea and what you should do instead.
Contract law is specialized to the specific areas of legal practice. For instance, at Stout Law we specialize in drafting real estate purchase agreements, deeds, leases, land contracts, operating agreements, easements, real property licenses, settlement agreements, wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, construction contracts, and other contracts associated with our areas of specialty.
Think about this: what’s stopping reputable law firms from using online contract templates for areas outside of their expertise to bolster their business? There are many contractual areas that behoove us to refer a prospective client to another firm with specialized knowledge for—even though we know where to find an online template for these other areas.
That should tell you something. When an attorney won’t touch something with a ten-foot pole, and they are someone who regularly does contract work in their areas of specialty, they recognize that their blind spots will only create liability for a prospective client.
The liability created from a poorly drafted contract can range from a contract that was never formed to a contract that not only cannot be enforced but that also creates liability for impermissible inclusions. For instance, a poorly drafted lease can make a landlord liable for violations of the Truth in Renting Act, the Fair Housing Act, and many other applicable statutes.
Additionally, a poorly drafted land contract can make a grantor liable for violations of the Dodd Frank and Safe Acts, whereby the grantor may have to disgorge (completely pay back) the monetary benefit they received over the entire term of the land contract.
Another prime example is a building contractor contracting for a service that requires a license. The contractor may believe that they have the right to lien the property based on the contract language, but that right does not exist unless the contract is executed precisely in line with Michigan law. In fact, contractors who walk this line imperfectly are playing Russian Roulette with their license and with their freedom.
Don’t get us wrong, we understand and respect the DIY mindset. There are many areas where you can be richly rewarded for such resourcefulness. However, drafting your own contracts is likely not worth the risk.
On the other hand, if you do continue to draft your own contracts, please keep our information handy for your future defense needs.
Call us 24/7 at (616) 724-0346 or fill out the form below to receive a free and confidential initial consultation.