At risk of sounding trite, my experience in litigating business disputes among once friendly partners has reinforced the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Many of these disputes could have easily been averted if the parties had simply sought out the help of a lawyer to draft contracts that properly capture both the word and spirit of their business agreements.
Many business owners are tempted to try to “document deals” themselves, using form contracts they obtained online, or from prior deals. This may work for routine service agreements with customers. But if you are considering a new joint venture, or if your agreement involves tricky issues such as ownership and protection of intellectual property, it pays to consult a lawyer from the outset. It costs far less to pay for proper documentation than it does to litigate over the meaning of sloppy contracts.
For example, if you are contemplating a new business partnership or joint venture, there are many significant questions you may not have considered. What form of business entity is right for you? Should you form a corporation, a limited liability company, or something else? What documentation is needed to properly establish the entity? Do you need bylaws, or an operating agreement? If so, how will you structure the ownership interests, voting rights, management, and your rights upon the dissolution of the entity, if that day should ever arrive? Does your deal require the protection of confidential and proprietary business information? Do you need non-disclosure agreements, or covenants against competition?
Simply using form or “boilerplate” agreements may not adequately address these questions, and others. If you need help documenting your deals, contact me today for a consultation.