Templates for Business Legals – To Use, or Not To Use. That is the question.
Client Agreements and your website policies are documents that your customers use, so your Business Legals reflect DIRECTLY on YOUR BUSINESS.
So why do people look for templates, or copy from someone else’s legals (an illegal act)? Other people’s legals are usually generic and contain irrelevant information, or even omit important information that is required for YOUR individual and unique service.
People use templates or copy documents from other businesses because:
- It’s Simple. Lots of people do this stuff, right? Everyone has a website and the rules are the same, so I can just copy what others have done. (I’m sure they know what they’re doing!)
- Lawyers are Expensive and Complicated. Nobody ever reads the fine print anyway!
- I Don’t Have Time. I’ll just “borrow” something off the internet and insert my details – problem solved!
Is it okay to use templates for business legals?
Using templates may appear simple, while going to a lawyer may seem complicated. Yes, you can easily overlook the fine print when poorly drafted. You are still not doing your business any favours by using a generic template or copying from another business. The best solution is always a custom document, drafted for your business, your clients, and your exact purposes.
Understandably, when you are a lean startup with just a handful of clients, using a good template can be better than having no contract or policy in place.
So if you are going to use a template, then it’s important you understand exactly what’s gone into it. For this reason, I’ve developed my own suite of templates, specifically for small business, designed to get you started. Check them out here.
If you have used a template from the internet, remember, it has not been drafted with a knowledge of your specific business.
Why see a lawyer instead of using templates?
If you need a legal agreement, speak to a legal practitioner first. Don’t assume that it’s something that is going to be too hard, too expensive, and take too long. Legal agreements, including client contracts, website policies, non-disclosure agreements, protect your business and educate your clients and customers. You will benefit from a conversation with a lawyer who is a small business specialist. Here’s why:
- To make sure the documents that represent your business, are actually achieving their purpose for your business.
Clients consult with me because, even after implementing a template first, they have major issues with comprehension and understanding of the documents.
There was so much legal jargon in the template, they realised very quickly they didn’t understand. They were concerned about putting a document out into the world to represent their business, but it was written in general terms, or it was copied from someone else’s situation. They had no idea if the document was fulfilling it’s purpose.
- Because templates are general
A lot of templates for client agreements, website policies, and disclaimers are just that: They’re general templates, for non-specific circumstances. This might work OK if you have a general business, with no particular requirements (and who has a general business anyway?). The framework that the templates are written in and the language used is not specific to your business. You need specialist knowledge when customising a template and it can be difficult to work out how to tailor the template to properly reflect their business.
Choosing good quality legals is essential to business success
Doing your legal agreements properly is important because it is about YOUR business.
When you are considering the content of your agreements, inadvertently you are engaging in a quality-assurance process for how your business is running. Are you doing things legally? Is it going to be a smooth and seamless process for your clients? It’s a process that you really should incorporate into your business building to support the growth of your business.
These documents are speaking to your clients and customers about how you work. That is why when you use a template or what somebody else has written, it’s not about your business and how you work—it’s about somebody else’s business and how some general framework might apply to your business.
A template can be a good start. It’s something you can use to envision what a legal document might look like for you, but what goes into the template is critical. That is something that you need legal advice about to make sure you’re getting it right.
First – Get in touch for a Free Chat about your situation.
Second – I can advise whether one of my templates will solve your problem, or whether something more detailed is needed.
Not sure what legal documents you need for your stage of business?
Download my free Cover Your Bases checklist for a clear, simple and step-by-step guide.
Lots of love
Lawyer, Contract Specialist, Speaker & Advocate for Women in Business.
Drawing on more than 15 years’ experience as a lawyer and a woman in business, Shalini Nandan-Singh helps Australian service-based entrepreneurs protect their businesses and their bottom lines with empowered legal advice and contracts.
Encouraging listeners to #loveyourlegals, Shalini firmly believes that business legals should be an authentic extension of your business. Her goal is to educate audiences that, rather than confusing legalese, business legals should be an authentic extension of your business, creating positive business boundaries that support you in working with your clients with compassion and understanding.
Disclaimer: This blog is written to support business owners to consider legal requirements and issues that may arise in business. The information provided is for general and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice for your individual circumstances. Please consult your lawyer for advice specific to you and your business.