McClanahan Powers is proud to unveil its contract law blog! Whether it is for drafting or reviewing an agreement they wish to reduce down to writing or whether it is enforcing and protecting their rights in a contract that already exists, our clients routinely ask us questions about contracts. In some cases, clients do not even realize that their questions relate to contracts. Contracts affect so many different areas of law and are fundamental fixtures in our society. We want our clients and anyone reading this blog to have a more complete understanding of this fundamental concept.
Contracts are the building blocks and framework for virtually all fields of law. For example, businesses are built and managed using both simple and complex contracts. The operating agreement of a limited liability company (LLC) or the bylaws of a corporation are contracts between the members or shareholders about how the company will run, and in the case of an LLC, what the individual members’ roles and contributions will be. Other common business contracts include employee agreements, vendor agreements, service agreements, client or patient contracts, commercial leases, warranties and any other business arrangement.
Intellectual property licenses, assignments, sub-licenses, and partnerships, as well as collaboration agreements for patents, trademarks, copyrights, or trade secrets, are all contracts between two or more parties. Attorneys who work in a particular field of law may have an understanding of that particular practice area (i.e. intellectual property), but that specific knowledge must work in conjunction with and have its foundation in an advanced understanding of contract law generally. No matter what you call these agreements, at the end of the day, they are all simply contracts.
Contracts are not only found in the business world. For example, they can play a crucial role in estate planning as well. Spouses may wish to have their wills or trust instruments treated as a contract between them, so that spouse cannot change the terms when the other spouse passes away. In addition, health insurance and other payable on death accounts, such as certificates of deposits, are based in contracts between the individual and the health insurance company or banks.
Contracts find themselves in all types of situations. The number of contracts we encounter daily and the way these contracts impact us could span forever, but here are some additional examples that you may see or be affected by every so often or even every day, a list in which could go on forever:
- prenuptial agreements before marriage;
- divorce settlement agreements;
- child custody agreements;
- the agreement between buyer or seller when buying a good or service from a store;
- the agreement between a gym and a new member when joining a gym;
- the agreement between a business or individual and a homeowner when hiring a repairman;
- the agreement between the seller and buyer, as well as their agents, when selling or buying your home;
- the agreement between a university and student when going to a new school;
- the agreement between the city and library patron when getting a library card; the agreement between the company or individual and user of a website when accessing a website;
- the license between a company and consumer when putting a program on your computer;
- the agreement between a web host and website creator when buying a domain name; and
- the agreement between a business and individual when taking your car to a mechanic.
Contracts are essential parts of our everyday life and affect us in ways we may not even realize. It is important that you have an understanding of how they work, so that you know when your rights are being violated or when you may need an attorney who is experienced in dealing with contracts to enforce or protect your legal rights. We hope that in the years to come that you find this blog helpful with respect to both big decisions and everyday life.