In most cases, no. With some exceptions, a lay person can often pull a form from a website to draft their contract or walk into court with a plan of what they want to tell the judge. You don’t need an attorney – you can do it yourself.
But the better question is ‘Do I want an attorney to do this?’ In most cases, yes. But don’t take my word for it, let me simply give you actual cases:
SURPRISE, YOU’RE MOVING
A few years ago a business owner came to me with a problem – her landlord sold her office building and the new owner sent a letter to all of the business tenants giving them only a couple of weeks to move out.
“How can they do this, I still have 3 years left on my lease?” she inquired.
I asked her, “did you record a memo of lease?”
“What’s that?” came her reply.
I knew she was in trouble. If she had recorded a memo of lease, she could have stayed in her space. Instead, I had to explain to her that she would have to leave and find new office space. All on short notice to her many clients that had months of scheduled appointments set for that location. It was an expensive mistake. She had to incur moving expenses, find new space and negotiate a lease without the luxury of time to shop the market, and pay marketing costs to notify her clients of her new office location. Printing costs for new stationery and business cards were also involved. The cost for an attorney to negotiate her lease would have been cheaper.
Some business owners think they can read a contract on their own, but unfortunately they sometimes learn that they had no idea what they were reading.
NOT SO FAST
He was the perfect business partner — well-connected and he would have the purchase contracts rolling in. All my manufacturing client needed was for me to draft the documents that would give that new partner 20% of my client’s company.
I recommended a different approach — a 90-day trial run with the prospective partner under a letter of intent. This would give both parties the chance to be sure the partnership would be a great fit before making the final commitment. My client took the advice and the potential partners only lasted days before parting ways.
I saved my client thousands of dollars and a big headache from what would have been a terrible deal. Of course he could have found some forms on the Internet and pieced the deal together himself but the “savings” would have been costly.
There’s an old saying: the person who acts as their own attorney has a fool for a client. Many things in life lend themselves to a do-it-yourself approach. Legal matters are rarely one of them.