Contracts for Sale on the Internet: Friend or Foe of the Business Owner?
Florida Contract Attorney Kate Mesic explains the dangers of generic internet contracts for your business.
I get this question all the time from my business clients: “I found a contract online, it seems to work, is this sufficient?” Well, it sounds convenient enough, you simply fill in your specific information and voila, you are ready to go. No appointments with a lawyer, no expensive bills to pay and no hassle. However, you certainly get what you pay for!! A contract that involves your business, involves you and your livelihood.
Online websites offer documents for purchase in a variety of areas: corporate, employment, estate planning documents and many more. Business owners unfortunately purchase these and use it in their businesses, their lifeline so to speak, without realizing the consequences.
The questions business owners should be asking are “does this contract comply with Florida law?” “Is it up to date with Florida law”, meaning will the Court uphold it in your favor, if you need it to litigate it?
Some of the most dangerous ones are corporate documents and non-compete agreements. In this scenario what you don’t know can hurt you. Why you ask? Because websites like LegalZoom don’t have lawyers behind them. They provide generic documents and put them online. They don’t guarantee legal sufficiency and provide legal advice to its consumers. When you use one these contracts, you are left to your own devices. The contracts are supposed to protect your business and you, they are supposed to help you create better deals, negotiate better deals and create options if something goes wrong.
When you use a generic contract online, you are gambling with your own business, because you don’t fully understand it, you are merely relying on someone else, who disclaimer reads something like the below.
Every case is different and everyone’s situation is unique. This is why having a business attorney is essential for you to make smart business decisions. It is important to have a contract reviewed, created, or negotiated by a lawyer, that represents you and your business. The lawyer how understands your situation, your needs, and concerns. Just because the majority of customers have answered a question in a certain way, it doesn’t necessarily make it right for your individual circumstances.
Problems will not arise right away, but they will come later, when the contract is found to be legally insufficient. An vivid and frequent example is when your operating agreement or buy-sell agreement do not fit your needs or do not follow the law, and you are trying to leave the company or vote out a part owner.