A lot of times clients and friends say “I just want a short contract. Don’t make it long.”
Well, there are reasons lawyers write long contracts. And it’s not because they want to bill more.
I agree with simple and understandable. In a perfect world we’d all right one page contracts and forget it.
However given the complexity of today’s world spelling things out is preferred.
So many of the issue I get involved with as a lawyer (after an event has happened) are because an agreement was simple and Party A thinks they agreed this and Party B thinks they agreed to that.
The time to find out what details you disagree on is at the beginning…not after significant time and/or money is expended.
If you are speaking at a conference and you want to get a copy of the video you should discuss it up front – put it in the contract.
If you are speaking and you don’t want them videoing you – put it in the contract.
If you are planning your travel and plan to travel in the day before and put the risk of weather/disruption on your client – put it in the contract.
If you need certain technical support or supplies – put it in the contract.
Now simpler contracts are better. Rather than having long boiler plate a table might help. Section headings might help.
Formatting can go a long way.
I use a lot of strategies in my client contracts to make them easier to head and digest.
You want the details without being overwhelming. Don’t get caught up on length – but make sure all the details are discussed up front. That’s where the problems usually happen – when there important details and one party thinks the agreement was for this and they thought everyone meant that.
When you show up at that next conference and they tell you they are going to video your session and post it online (and you don’t want that) you are going to run to your contract. And your one page contract isn’t going to address the issue. Now you’ve got a fight on your hands. Wouldn’t it be better to have agreed upfront?
A good contract can be your checklist to client success.