Some of y'all will trust a contract from Google before you'll trust potato salad at a cookout.
Your google search doesn't have a law degree nor did it pass the bar. So, how do you know when LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer or even a random template you find on Google is ok to use?
1. How do you know the person who made the template made it right?
You want to be able to trust the source you are getting a template from knows the type of law that covers your situation. If the place you are getting a template from a site has no specific attorney listed as the creator, any other content, blog posts, about section or anything that suggests they have specialized knowledge of the law covering your situation then you might want to think twice about using the template.
My clients have collectively made millions through contracts I have drafted and negotiated with some of the biggest companies in the world like Apple, Universal Music, Youtube, VH1, and more. When you download a contract template from me you can trust I know the things creatives should be protected against. BUT just because I am amazing at what I do for creatives I cannot provide a good template for a divorce settlement, a rental agreement, or a living will because even though those are contracts I just don't know those areas of law and couldn't protect you in those areas.
Why would you take the time to double check where you eat on Yelp but not look into where you are getting legal templates?
2. Are you able to customize it?
If the only available blanks in a legal template are for a date and signatures this is an ABSOLUTE RED FLAG you should not use the form because there is no way a cookie cutter form you've downloaded from the internet fits your exact scenario and this is a recipe for disaster when the unthinkable happens but LegalZoom doesn't know you or your situation and didn't include language to protect you. As a creative no two situations will likely ever be the same and at minimum you want a contract template that provides flexibility for the things that might change from situation to situation ( such as rates, song splits, producer credits, manager percentages, etc).
Lawyers use templates every day for clients as a STARTING POINT to provide the bare bones outline of what needs to be covered and then based on the specific details of a situation they customize and add appropriate language to make sure everything the client needs is included. In every template I provide I ensure there are plenty of opportunities to customize and fill in the gaps that can cover your specific scenario. If you don't have this option then you shouldn't use the template.
3. Is it a straight forward every day transaction?
Are you buying a car? Leasing an apartment or house? Getting or giving a small loan? These are transactions that happen every day and if you haven't made any special arrangements that template you found on google is probably good enough to use. For example:
- I am buying a car for $6,000 cash.
- I am renting a room in a house for $900 a month.
- I am loaning $1,000 to person X who has to pay it back by June.
If it takes more than a sentence or two to explain then a template is not likely going to cover the specific details of your interaction and you really should get a contract made for your specific circumstance. As a creative no two situations will likely ever be the same and at minimum you want a contract that provides flexibility for the things that might change from situation to situation ( such as rates, song splits, producer credits, manager percentages, etc) You would rather spend $500 on a lawyer to draft a contract on the front end than spend thousands on the backend chasing your money because the contract didn't cover everything.