332 - The Most Common Contract Red Flags (and how to fix them)

On today's episode of the podcast I'm sharing our commonly spotted contract red flags.

I messaged MJ, our team attorney, to put together some of the red flags they've been spotting in contracts because they are the primary person responsible for updating our Contract Club templates and working one-on-one with our Unf*ck Your Biz clients to give them their full suite of contracts that can typically range from seven to 15 contracts to each client.

If you're not familiar with the Contract Club, it's all the contracts you need, all in one place, all for one price, just pay the cover and you're in for life. You can pay your $30 cover and join the club at notavglaw.com/contract

We have dozens and dozens of templates already in the club and we're adding more all of the time. We're always putting out new ones in response to contract requests in our Facebook group, Braden's Besties.


1. Repetitive, contradictory terms

Repeating yourself in the contract might feel like emphasizing a term's importance, but it can hurt you. When a judge or mediator reads a contract, if you have two different versions of the same term, if there's contradiction in any way between the two, the judge has to decide which controls if they don't just toss them out altogether. If you do need to repeat in the contract, just say "refer to paragraph five for the cancelation provision). I the terms are repetitive but not contradictory, your duplicative terms just made it longer which is unnecessary for you and your client.


2. Inconsistent style of writing

We love a patchwork - for quilts only. It does not belong in a contract, and when you're copying and pasting parts of your contract from multiples templates you've found here or there online, lawyers can always tell. What ends up happening, for example, is different contracts from different attorneys will use different terms to refer to the same person, such as "photographer" or "company" and it's confusing to the client. It's a bad look and tells a judge you weren't being very serious about your legal needs and that you might not know the legal footing in your case.


3. Unfair or unenforceable provisions

If you put unreasonable shit in your contract, a judge or fact-finder is going to be very suspicious of the other stuff in your contract. There are certain things you cannot put in your contract which is pretty standard and varies a little by state. The way we typically draft our templates is if it's a red flag in some states we just don't include it. For example, non-disparagement clauses. You typically can't have these in client contracts i.e. in California you can't say a client can't write a bad review about your business. There are policy reasons why this is prohibited and suing people for being open and honest is not very good for the general public.


4. Language you don't understand

If you can't explain what the contract says to your client, it shouldn't be in the contract. This is not only why it's important to get a professional contract, but that you take the time to read it and understand what's in your contract. Just because you don't understand it at first, doesn't mean that you should immediately cut it out, it just means you should take the time to understand it. It's okay if you don't understand it at first. We do videos with most along with most of our contracts inside the Contract Club to explain what each and every paragraph means. We don't want you to just buy a template and not know how to answer your client's questions, and they will have questions.


5. Formatting issues

Like an inconsistent writing style, having an inconsistent format is a bad look. I don't think most people will have a problem with this because, working mainly with creatives, aesthetic is typically on your mind but if you aren't being careful, it shows that you're okay with shotty legal work. Make sure you use consistent spacing and standard fonts. It's not worth the time and energy to make a contract "fun." Don't give a contract that's fun colors or fonts unless you want the title in your brand font or color.


If you want to make sure you're avoiding all of these and don't want to break the bank, join the Contract Club (https://notavglaw.com/club). It's only $30 and you get access to all the videos to really learn what's going into your contract templates.

And, once you understand what's going into your contracts, if you want to short-cut the process, then what you need is the Contract Bot. It's our not-quite AI tool that developers helped us create that asks about 10 questions in a form and it will give you a generated contract. This is separate from the Contract Club, you can add access to the Contract Bot on to the Club when purchasing it at notavglaw.com/club and you can use the bot whenever you want.


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