Contract Review Checklist: 21 Things to Look For Before Signing

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Businesses both allow and expect the other parties involved to propose amendments to a contract before signing it.

As exhausting and overwhelming as paperwork can be, it is a huge mistake to sign every contract that comes across your desk without reviewing it first.

As a contract review lawyer, I’m here to prevent you from making a mistake and signing a contract that isn’t what you expected.

I offer contract reviews and can advise you on how to negotiate the terms and when to accept.

Email me Sam Mollaei Esq., Contract Review Lawyer, at sam@mollaeilaw.com if you have any questions.

 

What is Contract Review?

Contract review is the process of reading and understanding a contract on a line-by-line basis. It is a deep analysis process to make sure the contract is fair.

More importantly, you need to make sure it doesn’t include any loopholes that could work against you. Truthfully, contract review is a long process with a lot of legal terminology mixed in. This is why contract review lawyers exist. 

A contract review lawyer can examine the contract, explain the contract to you, and even suggest changes that are in your best interest.

 

Contract Review Mistakes

The unfortunate truth is business owners make all sorts of mistakes when dealing with signing a contract. Some of these mistakes include:

  • Thinking a legal review lawyer is a waste of money
  •  Thinking a contract is non-negotiable or that signing is mandatory
  • Signing a contract before reviewing it
  • Signing a contract before fully understanding it

Any of these mistakes above can cause you to sign a contract which is not truly in your best interest.

 

Why Get a Contract Reviewed?

Getting a contract reviewed is important because all of your decisions are made through a contract. Contracts should always be handled in the correct manner to prevent yourself from having a legal problem.

Basically, this means every single contract drafted and negotiated needs to be reviewed by a contract lawyer before it gets signed.

In fact, here are a few key reasons why you should get all contracts reviewed:

  • It prevents people from misunderstanding what they are signing. All terms need to be clear.
  • It guarantees that the terms within the contract are legal and lawful.
  • It prevents – or at least minimizes – future legal problems.

You get a contract reviewed by a legal professional because not doing so is an avoidable mistake. Email me at sam@mollaeilaw.com for your contract review today:

 

Why is Contract Review Important?

Contract review is about more than just protecting your company from signing a troublesome contract. It is also about protecting the relationship between you and the other parties involved. The relationship is going to be doomed to fail if all parties do not understand the contract.

You enter into contracts every day and all of the time.

Terms of any contract need to be fair, correctly drafted, and thoroughly reviewed. It is vital to make sure the contract meets the needs of both parties involved.

 

Contract Review Process

Contract review is basically a four-stop process. These steps include:

  • Drafting
  • Reviewing
  • Negotiating
  • Signing

First, a contract is created.

Second, the contract is reviewed.

Third, you negotiate any changes you want to make to the contract.

Finally, once everyone is happy and the terms are crystal clear, you sign the contract. Sticking to this four-step plan is the key to preventing yourself from signing a contract that isn’t in your best interest.

 

What Does a Contract Review Lawyer Do?

A contract review lawyer works with contracts. They can create them, revise them, review them, help you understand them, and help you negotiate the terms of any contract.

A contract is basically a legally binding agreement between you and another party. Contracts tend to pop up in both business and personal manners.

Considering a contract is a legally binding piece of paperwork, it is vital to make sure they are done the right way. This alone is the biggest reason why you need a contract attorney.

Now, I know what you are thinking – what on earth is a contract attorney? Truthfully, there is a specific lawyer for just about every legal task you can think of.

A contract lawyer – as the name implies – is a lawyer who specializes in contracts. This is someone who has experience in both creating and revising contracts.

If you are a landlord, a contract lawyer is who would help you create the lease for your tenants.

If you were a singer, your contract lawyer would help you draw up contracts for your career.

If you were an employer, this is the person who would help you draw up the contracts for your employees to sign.

And so on and so forth.

Naturally, the job of a contract attorney works both ways. Say you are someone who is getting ready to sign a big contract for a new job, a contract lawyer could look at the contract. They can explain it to you in a way that you will understand, and then they will help you make any necessary revisions.

Having a contract lawyer on your side before you create or sign any contract is a good idea because you could be created or signing something you wouldn’t normally agree to. I’m here to help, just email me at sam@mollaeilaw.com today.

 

What Are the Different Types of Contract That Should Be Reviewed?

There are many different types of contracts that you should have reviewed before signing anything. Some of the most common types include employment contract, physician employment contract, real estate contract, purchase agreements, and freelancing contracts.

Let’s look at these common types of legal documents in more detail:

 

Employment Contracts

An employment contract is something that you’ll have any time you are getting ready to start a new job, a new position, or a new contract.

There are many things to look for in an employment contract, and I’ve covered that in more detail below, but the most important thing to remember is don’t sign anything you aren’t 100% clear on.

 

Physician Employment Contracts

A physician employment contract is just like an employment contract except it’s for physicians. The general employment contract review advice applies to physician contract as well.

However, there’s one important thing for you to remember as a physician: you are literally dealing with people’s lives and you need to minimize any risk or confusion – get a contract review to make sure you are getting a fair offer that doesn’t jeopardize your career.

You should get your physician employment contract reviewed if you're a physician.

 

Real Estate Contracts

Real estate contracts are documents that you need to sign when you are leasing or purchasing real estate. These are usually pretty standard, but it is important to have a lawyer review these contracts because they often involve a major purchase.

Your contract review lawyer will review: mortgage loan documents, plot of land survey, title, title insurance, deed, bill of sale, and the legal description of the property.

 

Purchase Agreements

Purchase agreements are used to transfer property from one person to another. This may be real estate, vehicles, or any other tangible asset.

Just like with the real estate contract review, your contract review analysis will include any necessary titles, insurance, deeds, loan documents, and the bill of sale.

 

Freelancing Contracts

If you are a freelancer working by a contract basis, you may need a contract review for larger contracts.

It doesn’t make sense to pay for a review for contracts that don’t offer much money, but larger contracts or contracts that will be used often should be reviewed.

Your freelance or entrepreneur contract should include: the scope of the work, the ownership of the work, revisions, deadlines, payment amounts, and termination specifications.

 

Contract Review Checklist

Having a contract review checklist that you can refer to when you sign contracts may be helpful to you if you aren’t going to hire a lawyer for a contract review.

Here’s what you should look for when reviewing a contract:

  • The terms of the agreement (open to negotiation)
  • The parties involved
  • Nothing is left blank
  • Clear quantifiable terms (price, duration, square footage, etc.)
  • Renewal terms
  • Risk allocation
  • Indemnification and hold harmless agreements
  • Reference documents
  • Default terms
  • Remedies provisions
  • Termination
  • Deadlines and important dates
  • Warranties
  • Representations
  • Responsibilities and rights
  • Dispute resolution

 

If you are someone who thrives in the business industry, you likely deal with a contract on a pretty regular basis. Property leases, vehicle leases, equipment leases, web development agreements, advertising agreements, banking documents, and employee paperwork are all different forms of contracts.

As a contract attorney, one thing I’ve learned is even people who work with these types of documents on a regular basis do not necessarily take the time to appreciate them the way they should.

Stop for a moment and ask yourself this question – have you ever signed a document only after glancing at it? Have you signed something without reading the fine print?

If so, you are not alone, but you could be making a big mistake.

Contracts are important and legally binding. They should be appreciated and understood with care.

While I certainly encourage you to reach out to a contract lawyer – such as myself – if you sign contracts on a regular basis, here’s a more in-depth review of what you should be looking for:

  • Work out the terms: Keep in mind, a contract is just a starting point. You can negotiate nearly everything. Don’t agree to something you aren’t happy with. Always ask for what you desire. They aren’t going to bite your head off – they might just say no.
  • Identify everyone involved: Use complete names to avoid confusion. Always identify whether or not the individual you are working with is married and if their spouse will be factored into the contract (if applicable).
  • Fill out all the blanks: Don’t leave any blanks in a contract. This makes it possible for someone other than you to go back in and fill out what you didn’t.
  • Triple check the terms: You want to double and triple check any of the business terms within your contract.
  • Automatic renewals: Determine whether or not there are automatic renewals within the contract and whether or not you want them.
  • Risk: Make sure you detail how risks will be allocated. You don’t want to be left with a financial problem down the line and no clear guidance on how to fix it or who is at fault.

 

Other clauses and fine details you need to check and possibly go over with an attorney include:

  • Causes for termination: How, when, and under what terms the contract may end.
  • Rights and responsibilities: What are both parties entitled to and what obligations do they have to fill?
  • Dates and deadlines: Put any dates on your calendar so you don’t forget to take care of something that’s your responsibility
  • Warranties: Limit as much as possible, and be clear about the terms.
  • Representations: Don’t give any information (or accept any information) unless you know it to be true.
  • Resolution of disputes: The contract should specify how disputes will be resolved.

As long as you keep all of this information in mind, you should be okay. If you unsure about anything, it’s best to hire a contract review lawyer to review the contract for you so you don’t agree to anything you don’t understand.

Email me at sam@mollaeilaw.com for all of your contract review needs.

 

Employment Contract Review

An employment contract review is vital for the future of your career. Here are 10 things you should consider when signing and employment contract:

  1. Job Security
  2. Start and End Dates
  3. Termination Cause
  4. Compensation and Benefits
  5. Job Description
  6. Exclusivity
  7. Intellectual Property
  8. Non-compete
  9. Non-solicitation
  10. Sale of company

Job security sounds like something you wouldn’t need to check with an employment contract, right? I mean, you’re signing the contract which provides the job security after all.

Not so fast. The contract may imply job security, but it doesn’t provide it unless it clearly states – you need to ask if you are a fixed-term or an at-will employee so you’re clear about your job security in the future.

Start and end dates are necessary because without solid dates that specify when your employment begins and ends, you are just signing an offer letter.

Termination cause is important because it’s how you can lose your job. As an employee, you want cause to be required, but your employer may want the ability to fire you without cause. Read this section carefully and keep in mind the future consequences.

Compensation and benefits should state your base pay, amount and terms of any bonuses, and the benefits you are entitled to.

Job description sounds like a duh factor. Of course the contract will have your job description, right? It may, but it may not be enough.

You want to have your job title clearly defined with your duties listed. Can you imagine thinking your getting one job only to find out you actually accepted another? Ouch.

Exclusivity is something that some professionals refer to as moonlighting – basically, you want to have the ability to do work on the side outside of your employment.

Intellectual Property is the rights to anything you create or invent while you’re employed. Usually, the intellectual property of anything you create on the job or during employment belongs to your employer.

If you are already working on something before you sign the contract, be sure it’s clear that the rights to those things are yours.

Non-compete means that you can’t work for a competitor for a specified list of time after you terminate your contract with your employer. Be sure that the time and restrictions are reasonable so you are employable after the contract ends.

Non-solicitation prevents you from getting your employer’s contractors, staff, or customers/clients/patients. The term is usually for one to two years.

Sale of the company isn’t something you probably think about as you are doing your contract analysis. Which is why contract review services exist.

Basically, you just need to know what happens to your employment contract if the company is sold. Want job security? Ask that the contract remain active.

Having a lawyer to review employment contract could make all the difference in the future for your employment.

 

Contract Review Attorney Fee

The contract review attorney fee will vary based on many different factors and the contract lawyer you decide to work with.

You may contact me at sam@mollaeilaw.com if you have questions about how much a contract review costs.

Some of the things that a contract review fee depends on are:

  • Regulations in your industry
  • The duration of the contract
  • The money being offered
  • The number of pages of the contract
  • If you want the contract review lawyer to look for certain items
  • How often the contract will be used
  • If you’re wanting contract review services or contract drafting services
  • Your personal risk tolerance
  • The purpose of the contract
  • The number of parties involved
  • Your initial impression of the contract
  • Your industry
  • And more

As you can see, there are so many pieces of a contract that come into play when drafting or negotiating.

Some contract review lawyers work by the hour while others work on a flat-rate basis depending on the contract.

As an example, a quick and easy contract review will cost around $250, a mid-level review might cost anywhere from $250 to $1,500, and a complex review might cost a few thousand dollars.

A good tip is to know what you want the attorney to look for or what conclusions you want them to draw. Instead of simply saying, hey can you take a look at this, ask specific questions.

I pride myself on giving solid and transparent quotes before I do any work – so you know exactly what to expect.

Email me at sam@mollaeilaw.com and I’ll be happy to provide a free, no-obligation quote.

 

How Long Does it Take to Review a Contract?

How long it takes to review a contract depends on the length of the contract, the detail involved, and the lawyer’s own caseload and schedule.

If you have a certain deadline for your contract, you should make your contract review lawyer aware of that deadline and ask if they are able to meet it before hiring them.

In most cases, you’ll have a short period of time to review any contract before you are required to sign or turn-down the offer.

Most lawyers are aware of the timeframe and work within it to make sure your contract review services are complete on time.

 

How to Find a Lawyer to Review My Contract?

To find a lawyer to review your contract could lead to an endless internet search that takes hours as you review website and website and ask for quote after quote.

Or you could just choose the first reputable lawyer you come across and not worry about competing quotes.

Clients have been hiring me for contract review services for years and I’ve gotten them great results.

I’m transparent and honest about the time and cost of working with me and you have nothing to lose by sending an email today: sam@mollaeilaw.com

 

Do I Need a Contract Lawyer?

Yes, you need a contract lawyer if you are creating or signing a contract that has the potential for causing problems in your life or business should something go wrong.

You live in a fast-paced world. Unfortunately, this results in people saying and doing things a little faster than they really should have. One of the biggest mistakes people make in a fast-paced world is signing paperwork – more specifically contracts and legal documents – without taking the time to understand them.

As a business owner, you are going to encounter a lot of contracts. To be blunt, you really aren’t going to have time to read, understand, revise, and negotiate better terms before signing them.

This is why you hire a contract review attorney. You hire someone who handles all of the work for you. The only thing you will have to worry about is signing when the time is right.

So, the short answer to this question is – yes, you need an attorney for reviewing contracts. You need someone to prevent you from signing or creating something that causes major problems in the future.

 

Legal Contract Review Services

Depending on the lawyer, you may be offered a variety of legal contract review services.

Personally, I review contracts as well as draft them up and everything in between. If you need a contract from scratch, I can put one together for you.

If you have a contract and you need someone to look it over and help you understand it, I’m your guy.

If you have a contract and you want to renegotiate the terms, I can help you do that as well.

I’m happy to discuss the variety of legal contract review services I offer so you can choose what you need the most. Just send me an email at sam@mollaeilaw.com today.

 

Conclusion

Sam Mollaei, Esq., Contract Review Lawyer

Sam Mollaei, Esq., Contract Review Lawyer

A contract review is an important part of any new working relationship, but it’s often overlooked.

You may think you don’t have the budget to have contract review services or may think you can understand things on your own.

However, I’m suggesting that in most cases, you can’t afford not to have a contract review because you could be agreeing to something that you really don’t want to agree to.

Whether you need an employment contract review, a purchase agreement review, a real estate contract review, or any other type of legal document or contract analysis, I can help you.

► Don’t make the mistake of trying to figure it out alone when you can email me at sam@mollaeilaw.com to get started with your contract review.