5 Risks of Using Free Legal Forms or Online Contract Templates

Posted by on Oct 1, 2018 in Blog, Commercial Law

online-contract-template-with-penSearch engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo are great tools, but we have all been guilty of using as one of them as a financial advisor, medical professional– and yes, even a lawyer! Free legal forms have been around long before the internet, but there is a new wave of online contract templates that put businesses and individuals at risk for the promise of affordability and convenience. While there may be appropriate circumstances for one of these forms or templates, there are significant risks!

#1: You don’t know what you don’t know
While some may think lawyers charge expensive hourly rates irresponsibly, choosing not to employ a legal professional means disregarding their years of experience. Each situation is unique, so there is little to no chance of a free legal form or online contract template covering every eventuality. Without legal expertise, you have no way to be sure that the contract provides guaranteed protection.

#2: Pay a little now or a lot later
Debt collection is one of the most common reasons that a contract leads to litigation. If you had hoped to limit costs by using a free legal form or online template, you will be unpleasantly surprised at the legal fees required to enforce a poorly structured contract. Having a lawyer draft or proof your contracts is a rather small investment when you consider the possible pitfalls.

#3: Litigate or arbitrate?
Free legal forms and online contract templates often cover the key aspects of an official agreement, but they may not anticipate every option. Unfortunately, leaving out a clause that allows both parties to opt for an alternative resolution may force litigation. Arbitration clauses are just one of the many strategies a legal professional can bring to the table.

#4: Read the fine print 
It is a common saying, but no matter the font size: “fine print” is a real thing. Since all contracts are written, words are extremely important! While a court could interpret vague wording in your favour, why take the risk? A lawyer is experienced with contract terms and will not only phrase your agreement correctly, they will avoid common mistakes.

#5: Know your rights
To the untrained eye, a free-form or online template may seem to cover everything– it may not correctly disclose you or your client’s rights. Without a lawyer, can you confidently say this contract protects you and your client at all levels of the judiciary system? If the outcome is significant enough, a legal document could be tested across municipal, provincial and federal courts.

The five risks above are only a summary of the many possible outcomes of opting not to make use of a lawyer’s expertise. Do not leave it to chance, contact or visit Heritage Law today! Our friendly team of legal professionals is standing by to assess, manage or draft your contracts.