If you read article after article on business law you will see "Get it in Writing" near the top of the list in advice that lawyers routinely dispense to business owners. Indeed, a quick search of this blog produced 28 entries dealing with "getting it in writing".
My experience is that many business owners would love to get their agreements in writing but they are often frightened about the cost. Some business owners will resort to self-help services but there's no substitute for a experienced business lawyer writing your agreement(s). (Self-serving but true).
So how do you effectively get a written agreement completed with the help of a lawyer? Here are a few tips:
- Identify your goals. What are you trying to accomplish with the agreement? If you are unsure about your goals it's often more difficult for the lawyer to provide assistance.
- Identify the most significant terms and outline them. What terms does the lawyer need to be most concerned about? If something isn't a significant risk or concern then make sure the lawyer knows that. If a particular issue isn't as important be sure the lawyer isn't engaging in a protracted negotiation on that issue with the other side. There may also be risks you are willing to live with in order to get a deal done. Make sure your lawyer knows your thoughts on those risks. Otherwise, most lawyers are going to do everything in their power to protect you as a client and try to get you the most favorably language. Sometimes that can cause issues and problems with the other side.
- Try to negotiate as many terms as possible with the other party before drafting the agreement. Lawyers love to negotiate and haggle. Therefore it is beneficial if the parties have already agreed on the terms and language on important terms. It limits the amount of negotiation a lawyer may be inclined to undertake on behalf of his or her client. It's pretty helpful for your lawyer to be able to say to the other lawyer that the parties have already agreed on that issue.
These are just a few simple tips. The key is to communicate with the lawyer. Remember it's your agreement. A good business lawyer will do his or her best to find the balance between protecting you and getting the deal done.