What Lies Beneath: The Hidden Costs of Standard Form Contracts

With the advent of online legal services and downloadable templates for every type of contract imaginable, many individuals and business owners have taken legal drafting into their own hands. For a few hundred dollars, or sometimes even for “free”, anyone with a computer or smart phone can click “Add to Cart” for a legal contract. Standard form contracts are convenient, low-cost, and fast. However, proceed with caution. Why? Because contracts are not one-size-fits-all.  




A standard form contract will save you money upfront. There is no doubt about it. However, the hidden, high cost you might pay for later is the lack of customization. This hidden cost will not materialize immediately, but when it does, it will cost you substantially more than if you had engaged an attorney’s services in the first place. Contract disputes are routine in business. In fact, almost everyone encounters such a dispute at some point or another. However, a strong contract can prevent avoidable disputes and save you thousands of dollars. 


With standard form contracts, there is no attorney to consult with and no one taking the time to learn why you need a contract in the first place. Why is this important? Attorneys are professionals who have invested in their legal education for years, rigorously trained to identify issues before they occur, and have applied their legal skills to real-life business transactions. When you retain an attorney, you are asking an attorney to focus on you and your specific needs. No standard form contract can replace having an attorney dedicated solely to protecting your interests. 


Each business has unique considerations, and that uniqueness is not considered in standard form contracts. The failure to do so, before the contract is signed, may later be financially devastating to a business. If you, an individual or business, opt to use these standard form contracts, consider having an attorney perform a general review for further customization. 




The Takeaway – standard form contracts may be easy and cheap, but it won’t always cost you less. 

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