How to Use a Lawyer Efficiently, p. 3

GET A DETAILED PROPOSAL FROM CONTRACTORS

You can help streamline your legal tasks by making sure you get a good proposal from contractors. For instance, if you are planning to hire a public relations firm, find out what the going rate is and what kind of services you can expect. Then get a written proposal from the firm you select that spells out all of the services it will provide you, and its fees. With that thorough background work already done, when you ask your lawyer for a contract, all he needs to do is refer to the proposal for the scope of services and then focus on the legal terms, such as procedures for approving travel expenses, confidentiality, copyright ownership, avoiding conflicts of interest and when you can terminate the contract.

DEVELOP MODEL CONTRACTS

If you do the same kind of deal often enough, it will probably be cost-effective to develop a model contract. If you have independent sales representatives, a model contract will cut down your waiting time to get started with a new rep and give you a baseline set of terms that the last few people agreed to. If you develop a lot of products, ask your lawyer for a model nondisclosure agreement that you can take with you to manufacturers to protect your trade secrets. That will always be more economical than reacting to each new potential manufacturer’s form nondisclosure agreement. Instead of starting from scratch each time, your lawyer can tell you if the changes the other person proposes are reasonable.

GETTING THE ADVANTAGE ON EVERY POINT WILL COST MORE TIME AND MONEY

There are two opposite approaches for starting every negotiation. Some lawyers try to get every possible advantage over the other party, while some are more flexible and start with terms that are reasonable compromises for both parties while trying their best for a good deal for you. Sometimes you can get another person to agree to a one-sided contract where everything is stacked in your favor, but most of the time you will get pushback on every issue. While you are haggling for negotiating superiority, your competition will be out making deals and moving forward. As Lincoln pointed out, if you need to win on every point, you could be the real loser because you will spend too much time and money arguing. To make matters worse, everyone will start out suspicious of each other’s commitment to the venture.

[Image: thinkstockphotos.com/Zoonar]