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The Contract from Hell — Have You Ever Experienced It?

Have you ever contacted your attorney to prepare what you think will be a simple contract, only to get snared in a situation that feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone?

You know what I’m talking about. You’re imagining it as a simple 2-page contract, only to have it turn into the 17-page, 9-point font “contract from hell.”

Over at the Build a Solo Practice website, I have a 2-part guest post where I talk about a (sometimes) sore topic we small business owners face.

Contracts are necessary to protect our interests.

But sometimes they can be unnecessarily complex from a business person’s perspective.

So I gave my feedback to lawyers about writing business-friendly contracts, pointing out some features that make a contract into a “contract from hell.” Among them: writing in legalese. It is terribly frustrating to non-lawyers.

And, by the way, I am NOT ganging up on attorneys. Some of you may know that I used to be an attorney. The practice of law is a worthy calling, and without the law our society could not function. And we could not build businesses unless we were assured of the rule of law to protect those businesses.

It’s just that I have experienced the situation from both sides. I’ve been an attorney in the past. These days I’m just the client.

And thinking back, I now realize there were times as an attorney when I prepared contracts that could have been more user friendly. The process could have been a lot more efficient. That’s especially true early in my career, before I knew better. Of course, I learn best from making mistakes. 🙂

Go read the articles (Part One [1] and then Part Two [2]). Then share your experiences. Tell us your idea of the contract from hell.

More importantly, from your perspective, tell us: what is the ideal contract? How long should the ideal contract be? What should the back-and-forth collaboration process with your attorney be like?

And when you’ve had good experiences working with your attorney, what made them good?