I’m not a lawyer and I don’t keep one on speed-dial. Just the same, though, there are often legal documents — such as contracts — that I routinely need for my work. Between consulting agreements, non-disclosure agreements and other legal documents that have become standard parts of the web working process, I’ve found that I need a way to quickly put together an agreement that I’m comfortable using with a client. FastDue has a simple template tool that I’ve been able to use to turn out an agreement quickly.
FastDue offers a number of free tools, such as invoicing, templates for past due notices, and even complaint forms. But I’ve found its online agreement tool particularly useful. The site has the following templates:
- Consulting agreement
- Finder’s agreement
- General release
- Non-disclosure agreement
- Non-circumvention agreement
- Promissory note
- Sale of goods agreement
- At-will employment agreement
- Intellectual property agreement
Each template is fairly basic. The consulting agreement, for instance, offers spots to fill in information about both parties, as well as nine terms (each of which you can choose to remove, as well as an option to add further terms). Each term is constructed in legal terms, but most have several spots that are filled out with something along the lines of “Insert description of services and schedule.” You can also customize agreements with your own logo.
The web site provides a service beyond simply letting you put together templated agreements. It also allows you to acknowledge contracts, effectively signing them online without the back and forth or hunt for a fax machine that a printed contract can require. The interface can also make negotiating contract terms relatively simple, including a messaging system that allows you to walk through each term with a prospective client. You can also email forms, and save them as PDFs from the interface.
If you read through FastDue’s documentation, you’ll come across the suggestion that you run any legal agreement you make past a lawyer before you sign off on them. In general, I can’t recommend anything else — the fact is that we all really ought to run any contract we sign past our lawyer. But things don’t always work out that way. For web workers, it’s not unusual to sign a contract with a client in another state or even another country. Most lawyers are very familiar with the laws in their home state, but aren’t as comfortable with how laws in other states or countries can affect your agreement. To make matters more complicated, some freelancers and other web workers take on new projects often enough that taking each new contract to a lawyer has a prohibitive cost.
It’s not a perfect solution — after all, not all jurisdictions recognize electronic signatures on contracts yet. But FastDue does make it possible to get an agreement in place quickly, making it easier for web workers to create new contracts and legal agreements on the fly. As long as you feel comfortable with handling your contracts online, FastDue is a good solution to simplify the process.
Where do you get your legal documentation drawn up?