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Attorney Contract Review: What You Need to Know

contract review attorneyWe rely on contracts for a wide variety of goods and services, from getting large product orders for a business, to signing a waiver so your kids can play basketball, to signing a “click through agreement” when doing business online or electronically. Contracts are everywhere. However, just because they are so common does not mean that they are easy to read or understand. In fact, most contracts are written in a way that requires a great deal of thought and analysis, and often times may use legal terms that have very specific definitions.

Thankfully, contract review attorneys speak the same language as your contract, and they can put an agreement into language that the average person can understand. They can also spot problem areas, loopholes, silences, ambiguities, or contradictions that you may have missed.

A contract review attorney does not necessarily draft the contract (although our firm does offer that service); instead, they focus on analyzing the contract clauses, terms, and conditions in the context of what your concerns and goals are, in relation to that contract. By doing this type of analysis, a contract attorney can determine if the particular contract will fulfill your goals, or create any potential problems for you down the road – or possibly a little bit of both, and analyze the pros and cons.

Different Types of Contract Review

Within the broader category of general contract review, there are several specific types of contract review. Each of these services offers different benefits and drawbacks and varying levels of complexity.

Issue-Specific Contract Review

In many situations, clients want to be sure that a contract, as drafted, satisfies a very basic or specific concern. For example, if you are a commercial renter, you may want to be sure that the contract gives you enough freedom to alter the commercial space to fit your business. You may ask that an attorney review the agreement to be sure that you can make the changes that you would like to the inside or outside of the building.

In this type of review, you let the attorney know your concern, and he or she will only consider that particular issue and give you an opinion. This service can be utilized both before or after you have signed a contract; however, please note that our review is usually far more useful before you sign a contract, when you are in a far better position to negotiate changes, or refuse to sign if you don’t get what you want.

Some examples of typical issue-specific reviews include:

  • Non-competent covenants
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Consequences of a breach
  • Timelines and related obligations

Please note that just because you only have one particular concern, that does not necessarily mean that only one single clause of the contract will need to be reviewed; contract clauses are not contained in a vacuum and there may be other provisions located in the contract that could also affect such clause or concern  

Additionally, as part of this sort of contract review, you can also present the attorney with a scenario and the contract language to determine what will likely happen in that scenario.

Basic Contract Review

Most of the contract review we provide falls into this category.  Unlike an issue-specific review, a basic contract review will generally include a full analysis of the entire contract. The attorney will generally provide either a consultation that follows the review, to go over the contract with you; or in some cases the attorney may provide a written review that may feature notations, highlighting, or comments..

You can also ask whatever questions you would like in this type of review. This type of analysis will generally take place over the phone or via email, but you can also set up an in-person meeting as well. However, if you have specific questions, it may be a good idea to provide them ahead of time, so the contract lawyer reviews the document with a specific eye toward addressing your concerns.

Basic Contract Review Plus Edits

This type of contract review includes the basic contract review, but the contract attorney will also suggest some improvements in the language of the contract. These changes suggested by your attorney could be more general in nature, or might be extremely specific and actually written by the attorney as a suggested change.  This type of service is sometimes referred to as “redlining” the contract.

Contract Review Plus Negotiation

If you have not yet entered the contract, you may want an attorney to do an analysis, provide an opinion, and then work with the other person’s lawyer to adjust the language of the document. The attorney essentially takes over the entire process so that you can ensure that every concern that you have is addressed. This type of process works best if either you are not comfortable handling such negotiations yourself, or you are dealing with a fairly large transaction.

In some situations, having a third-party without any stake in the outcome can provide a helpful sounding board. Your attorney can review your wants and needs and help you influence the other party, or their attorney, into making the contract contain provisions that are more beneficial to you.

Contract Review Attorney Pricing

While our firm does occasionally provide flat fees for certain types of contract services, we generally review contracts by the hour.  We are happy to provide you a cost estimate before we get started, and that estimate will depend on what kind of contract it is, how long it is, and what level of service you desire.  If you would like to get an idea what your situation will cost, simply contact us to discuss it.

Learn more about our contract-related services by checking out our service page, or call our offices directly at 417-319-2074. You can also contact us online to set up a consultation.



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