A contract is a formal and binding agreement between two or more parties. It outlines their rights, obligations, and responsibilities in an enforceable manner. 

It is different from oral contracts or informal agreements as it is more likely to carry legal weight and ensures that all parties involved are clear on what is necessary to fulfill their obligations and terms, thus providing legal protection to all involved parties.

To be considered legally valid, a contract must meet certain criteria, such as mutual assent, consideration, capacity, and a legal purpose. However, it is possible to create a legal contract without hiring a lawyer.

Seeking lawyers is customary but not necessary. Creating a legal contract by yourself is very cost-effective, especially for small businesses.

In this piece, we’ll show you how to create a legally valid contract without a lawyer.

Can I Create My Own Contract?

The short answer is yes. Lawyers are crucial in drafting contracts because they understand legal matters better. They can provide valuable guidance on complex legal issues, ensure compliance with applicable laws, and protect against possible pitfalls. 

However, for individuals or businesses operating on a limited budget or dealing with a simple transaction looking to save on legal fees, independently creating a contract is a go-to option. It is a cost-effective, convenient, and highly secure option for executing contracts remotely.

However, without access to the appropriate legal resources, things can go south without it being intended.

In many jurisdictions, including the US and Canada, electronic signatures hold legal weight, making digital contracts just as enforceable as their paper counterpart. Whether you are a freelancer, business owner, or individual making a transaction, you can draft a contract that protects your interests.

By following the approach in this guide, you should be able to craft a contract that meets your needs and safeguards your interests.

How To Make A Contract Without A Lawyer – Understanding the Basics

It is best practice to use a contract that is lawyer-created, reviewed, and approved, like Coaches & Company’s fully customizable contract templates that are designed for selling services & digital products online.

If you want to draft a business contract without the aid of a lawyer, there are a few things that you need to know and practice. They include:

Write down all the details

Ensure that your contract has all necessary elements, i.e., the terms of the contract, such as the parties involved, payment terms, the specific scope of the services, specifying the time frame of the agreement, and additional clauses that may be relevant to the agreement.

Outline the who, what, when, where, and how of the transaction. Include a detailed description of the goods or services being transacted, the deadline, and other conditions.

Assumptions can lead to miscommunication if left unaddressed, so be clear and don’t hide anything in the fine print!

Specify performance standards

Specifying performance standards is important to ensure both parties understand what is expected of them under the contract. Define benchmarks for evaluating performance, such as quality benchmarks, delivery deadlines, or service levels that you need or intend to provide.

Include a termination clause

While no one enters a contractual agreement with the hope that it doesn’t work out, including a termination clause is important. This clause includes conditions under which either party can decide to terminate the agreement and include the penalties or obligations involved.

Common triggers include breach of contract, failure to meet set standard levels, non-communication, force majeure, or other changes. By addressing termination upfront, parties involved are protected and have options in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

Define key terms

Define technical terms used in the contract to ensure clarity. All involved parties may not understand the specialized terminologies involved. To ensure clarity, define those key terms within the contract itself.

This eliminates ambiguity and prevents misunderstandings that could arise from differing interpretations of technical languages.

Utilize contract templates

Legal contract templates designed for your industry and types of digital transactions are valuable resources for structuring your agreement effectively.

You can benefit from Coaches & Company contract templates, which allow for you to leverage a lawyer-created contract without the hefty law firm fees and legal costs.

Additional Considerations Include:

Jurisdictional considerations

Contract law varies by jurisdiction, so it’s important to consider the laws governing your agreement, i.e., what is required by law of your location or jurisdiction. While the United States, Canada, and some other jurisdictions may allow electronic signatures to be used as a form of contract, others may not accept them legally.

What do you do? You familiarize yourself with the legal requirements and principles relevant to your jurisdiction to ensure compliance and make the contract enforceable.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure

If the agreement involves a sensitive topic or information, include provisions for confidentiality to protect unauthorized disclosure of confidentiality.

What App Can I Use To Create A Contract?

Several online apps and platforms can help with drafting a contract. These tools are easily accessible to everyone and cover a wide range of business scenarios; they are available on your computer and/or smartphone, giving you the ability to sign a contract anywhere, anytime.

These tools or apps help draft a contract easily without the need to employ the service of a lawyer, which is cost-saving in most instances. When seeking a tool to help deliver a contract for signature, you might want to check out tools like DocuSign, HelloSign, Paperbell, XodoSig, or ContractBook.

Advanced Contract Drafting Techniques:

  • Incorporating Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanism:

You should consider including a mechanism for dispute resolution, such as mediation, to resolve conflicts efficiently. An ADR mechanism can preserve the relationship between parties and ensure that business isn’t delayed in the process.

Coaches & Company’s contract templates include Mediation Clauses in order to help signatories reduce the likelihood of litigation and prevent escalation of legal costs associated with contract disputes.

  • Addressing Impossibility Clauses:

In case of unforeseen circumstances such as pandemic outbreaks, natural disasters, or economic crises, consider including clauses for these scenarios where performance becomes impossible. This clause allocates responsibilities in the event of unforeseen circumstances beyond the parties’ control.

Three (3) Best Practices For Contract Review

To ensure the contract is legally valid, before finalizing, you might want to:

1. Review Thoroughly:

Before finalizing a contract, conduct a thorough review to ensure all terms and provisions accurately reflect the parties’ involved intentions and expectations.

Pay close attention to details such as names of associated parties, addresses, the contract duration, the scope of the service being provided, and financial terms, schedules, or agreements to avoid errors and holes in the contract.

2. Communicate:

Maintain communication with the other party throughout the process of drafting the contract. Be sure to address concerns that you noticed and seek clarification on ambiguous terms that you do not understand.

3. Ensure all parties are in agreement

While reviewing the contract, ensure you document all changes made and that all parties agree to the decisions made in writing to prevent disputes.

Changes in payment terms, the time of work, the scope of work, availability, etc., should be recorded and accepted by the parties involved.

The Importance Of Clarity In Contract Drafting

It is important to be clear about what you want and how you want it done. Each requirement should be carefully worded and avoid ambiguity to ensure the intentions of both parties are accurately reflected and recorded.

If there is confusion in the signing process, be sure to voice those worries for clarification. Keep in mind that a contract is legally binding once signed, so if you don’t want problems throughout the contract duration, ensure clarity prior to signature.

Ambiguity or genericism in a contract can also render a contract void and unenforceable in some jurisdictions, so be clear as to the key components of any written contract.

Incorporating best practices in contract drafting

To elevate the quality and effectiveness of your contract, individuals should incorporate best practices. These practices include:

  • conducting thorough research on relevant laws and regulations, seeking input from experts
  • reviewing and revising the contract multiple times for accuracy
  • seeking feedback on the contract from trusted colleagues or advisors, including licensed attorneys and legal professionals

Final Thoughts

Drafting a contract without a lawyer is feasible with attention to detail and adherence to federal, state, and local laws.

By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, it is possible for individuals and businesses to create legally binding contracts that protect their interests and facilitate successful transactions without having to break the bank.

Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates, so you can upgrade your client contract while staying Protected & Profitable™✨

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you. Grab our FREE Legally Launch Guide to get the legal lowdown on everything in entrepreneurship, without the confusing mumbo jumbo. We’re serving it up straight and to the point. (Heads up: It’ll forever transform the way you view your client relationships!) Grab your copy now!

*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.

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