Contracts form the basis of many businesses and are so commonplace that they can sometimes be relegated to simple boilerplate status. Since they define so much of our work, it’s important to remember to treat them with the respect they deserve. This blog post will reflect on some of the most important aspects of contract writing and also provide some tips to make sure that you are getting the most out of your business contracts.

The first thing to consider is the reason you would even need a contract. Usually, the fact that you are exchanging something valuable is reason enough. Perhaps you are paying for something of value to your business or selling a service fundamental to your work, but which is more than just a single transaction.

The first point of advice is to be completely clear about your needs because that clarity will help you be concise about the language that goes into your contract. You may even want to brainstorm an outline or a draft with the other party beforehand, just to be doubly clear. This part of the contract should be written in plain language such that a regular, non-lawyer can understand.  A good example would be: “X person/business/entity agrees to provide X number of chicken legs to X person/business/entity for X number of dollars”–simple and to the point.

The next thing to consider is what all goes into the contract itself. First, you have to be sure that you have the proper legal name of either the people or business you are contracting with. For example, you will want to have the name of the business as registered–including additional identifiers like LLC., Inc, or anything else– with whatever official agency is significant. Along with this piece of advice you may want to consider under which state or government you want your contract to be governed by. You’ll also want to be sure that you have and include their current legal address.

Once all of the more basic things are considered, you may want to include some more formal lawyerly language. A confidentiality clause or non-disclosure agreement can be helpful to you, especially if you plan to use proprietary technology or intellectual property to fulfill the obligations of the contract. Also, if you end up having a dispute over some item in your contract, how will you resolve it? You can define this in your contract so that nothing comes as a surprise.

Some other small but important tips that some lawyers may recommend are, for one, to write out any number as both words and numbers. This can help you to avoid certain problems if errors are found later. Another one is to avoid accidentally using words that can be legally ambiguous or accidentally trigger some other unexpected effect. For these kinds of issues, you should have a lawyer look over your contract or contract templates to be absolutely sure.

Just to be clear, this is just a quick overview of how to handle a contract and an attempt to let you know of the importance of including certain things in your contract. There are many industry specific things that you should also consider depending on the business you are in. If you have any comments, ideas, or would like to hear about any specific issues relating to contract writing, make sure to comment below!