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How Legal Forms Can Protect Your Business:
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  Should I Hire an Attorney or Buy A Form  

Legal forms are no substitute for the advice of an attorney, licensed in your jurisdiction and knowledgeable in the area of the law in which you do business. However, attorneys serve a risk management function. If you are conservative by nature, you probably want to hire an attorney to write your contracts so that you can be sure they will hold up in your jurisdiction and protect your business.

If you are comfortable with more risk, or can't afford an attorney, assuming the risk of using legal forms may make sense for you. We recommend Coollawyer Legal Forms. The forms are written by a business and technology law attorney with verifiable credentials, have a 72-hour money back guarantee and are consistent in their terms and formats. These business, corporate and technology forms are available for purchase at® .

  "Contracts Don't Hold Up Anyway!"  

Well, actually, they do. The liability limits can work. The warranty waivers can work. You can use them to get money you are owed. If written by an attorney, most contracts hold up. To what degree and with what result can vary, but mostly they work.

Online contracts can also hold up, but it is important you either purchase from a site with specific legal instructions or hire an attorney knowledgeable in this area. Case law has set forth certain steps for online agreements to be valid and, if not followed, there is little chance that these contracts will protect your business.

  Can't I Just Copy Legal Forms from Other Sites?  

Copying legal forms and contracts, just like other content, is, in most cases, copyright infringement. For more information, see the Copyright section of the Law Library. So, no, with few exceptions, you can't just copy the forms. You need to buy them which gives you a license to use the legal forms. Of course, nevertheless, free downloads of business forms, free legal forms collections, free legal forms online are around if you want to take the risks.

  What Should I Look for in Legal Forms  

Many sites will say that attorneys have drafted their forms. Do they provide the authors names? Their credentials?

If not, how can you tell if an attorney really wrote them? You can't verify their licensing with the State Bar. You can't verify their graduation with their law schools. You have no way of knowing. Is it worth risking your business with so much unknown?

  Can You Verify the Attorney's Experience
and Why It Is Important

When you look at any site from which you are buying a legal form, you want to be sure that you can review the experience of the attorney(s) who wrote it.

The attorneys' credentials are important because you want to confirm that the author has had experience with the legal form you need.

For example, if you're buying a will or trust form, you don't want to buy it from this site - which has forms written by a business, technology, intellectual property attorney. You want someone that knows wills and trusts well. Otherwise, your will could fail and the default law might apply instead. Then your Cousin Jeanie would get everything instead of the Fund for Porsche Restoration as you intended.

Is it worth copying or downloading free legal forms online, free legal forms collections, free printable legal forms, forms from unreliable sites, when that is the risk you take? Do you want to risk your business and the validity of its contracts to save a few bucks?

  What Does An Attorney's Experience Contribute?  

Good legal forms are created by attorneys over years of practice and years of deals. Each time a deal went wrong, a confusing phrase later caused a dispute with the parties, something should have been included but wasn't, a case was reported that set forth new law, the attorney learned of a statute which he or she was unaware of, the legal forms should reflect that history. Each of these bits of knowledge adds a ring to the tree.

Good forms have many rings. Some times, that's why good legal forms are longer -- even thought it may appear unnecessary. Some times, forms can be concise versions of the longer ones with the rings much closer together -- leaving just a couple pages with the important stuff.

  How About if Many Attorneys Wrote the Forms?  

Certainly you've heard the expression "Too many cooks spoil the broth." Some websites hire attorneys in each state to write legal forms for them, so there are at least 50 authors to their forms (and cooks to their broth).

Having so many different attorney authors spoils the broth. If you buy more than one legal form for your business, you see the results: different fonts, margins, lengths, formats, different legal clauses that even conflict at times. If their authors disagree on the legal wording, how can you trust it?

Presenting contracts which vary in appearance and in your legal position to clients and business partners makes your business look unprofessional and can sabotage smooth negotiations. On one document, you've taken one position, but in another you take the opposite. The other side may notice. If so, this greatly weakens any arguments you had justifying your position - either of them.

  How About Sites Where You Talk to an Attorney?  

Some sites allow you to "speak to an attorney" in your state who will provide you with advice and legal forms. If you speak to an attorney from these sites, it is unlikely that the attorney you speak to has written the forms you will purchase.

Some times she will not even have read the form. Some times she won't even agree with how it is written.

Will the attorney tell you? No. Will she rewrite the form to agree with his or her legal opinion? No. These sites make their money based on high volume and short calls. Rewriting forms and giving variation in legal opinions take valuable time which cuts into profit.

  How About Sites Which Offer Contracts from
Deals between Big Companies?

You said that copying contracts was copyright infringement . . . aren't these sites infringing? Well, I did say that. In this case, it's not clear and of course, they still may be sued.

Why isn't it clear? Sites that offer contracts which are from major corporate deals, with the parties named, are reprinting public information which is available for free through the SEC filings of such corporations at in the EDGAR system.

Information submitted to the federal government is available to everyone under the Freedom of Information Act and therefore such information often loses intellectual property protection. Additionally, the federal government is exempt from owning copyrights under the Copyright Act. Between these two legal concepts, it's tough to get a clear picture of whether this would be copyright infringement or not.

What is clear is that buying their forms is silly if you can get them for free. If you're going to buy publicly available forms, at least be sure that some value is added to what you purchase.

  About Coollawyer® Inc. and It's History  


Started in 1999, began as the legal practice of Judith A. Silver, Esq. and became Coollawyer Inc. the legal publishing company and business and law portal it is today. Coollawyer Inc. proves that it is possible to impart helpful legal information to consumers and businesses in a non-patronizing, educational manner with a responsive and straight-forward approach. Miss Silver writes a monthly column on legal topics for, has appeared on CNET and Entrepreneur radio, and will appear during December, 2003 on Forbes Radio on American Airlines and during January and February, 2004 on National Public Radio on Delta Airlines.® has won the Cool Site of the Day Award, the Golden Web Award, the Majon Web Select Award, the BT Design Award for Best Site, Hotlink of the Day, listing in SCORE's Business Links and was chosen by About as Best of the Net in the Cyberspace Law category in 2001.

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