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Contracts: Dotting your own i’s, crossing your own t’s a bad idea

When it comes to lawyers, jokes and stereotypes abound. Some are true, others are actually very outdated.

For some though, the very idea of engaging legal services seems to cost money. And it’s true – lawyers can be expensive, and they’re not shy about charging for every last ‘i’ and ‘t’ they dot and cross.

Yet just the same as virtually every industry – spare stonemasonry and locksmithing perhaps – the legal landscape has been changed by technology. No longer is it a choice between the high end of town lawyers, and the proverbial ‘Dennis Denuto’ from the suburbs.

These days, a whole middle class of lawyers has emerged, and just the same as entrepreneurs and small businesses worldwide, they don’t need a waterfront office swathed in mahogany to prove their competency. Working from home in ‘online law firms’, businesses can access a full gamut of legal services without needing to pour time into drawn out meetings.

“A man who represents himself has a fool for a client,” is one of my favourite lines lawyers trot out every now and again. It’s true though, and for most businesses, the front-line of legal needs rests firmly in contracts. With the ease of access to lawyers, consulting a lawyer before signing on the dotted line can be worth its weight in gold.

Sloppy contracts have been the undoing of so many businesses, simply because they thought they could ‘DIY’. If there’s one area not to skimp though, this is it.

Indeed, these days the cost of accessing legal services versus purchasing a contract template, can be done for around the same price – many people just aren’t aware that’s the case.

The system has changed. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking lawyers are scary and expensive. Whenever you’re unsure a contract or set of documentation you require may not be tailored exactly to the specifics of your business, you’re leaving yourself open to risk.

At the end of the day, this is your business – and there’s nothing more valuable than that.