Agreement Writing:
General Information
Getting Started
Common Misconceptions
Things to Watch For

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Agreement Writing

Getting Started

In General

If you find that you are in need of a written agreement or contract, there are a number of things that you should do. These include, gathering information, brainstorming, creating a wish list, contacting an attorney, reviewing the document, testing the document, and finalizing the document. Each of these will be discussed below.

Gathering Materials

Once you have determined that you need a written document and that you are not going to write it yourself, you should begin gathering material that will be helpful in creating your document. For example, if you need a lease agreement for rental property, you should find as many different rental agreements written by other individuals as possible. Good sources of written agreements can include, stationary shops, office supply stores, the Internet, other landlords, computer software programs, and legal form books. By reviewing many different documents that have already been written, you can get an idea of the provisions that are most important to you, or that may cover things you had not thought of.


The next step is to sit down with a notepad and all of your gathered material and brainstorm about (1) the problems that you wish to prevent through your written agreement and (2) the things that you hope to accomplish. Be sure to carefully note all of your thoughts.

Creating A Wish List

Once you have brainstormed your agreement, it is important to summarize each of the elements that you wish to have included in your agreement. You will probably want to do this in two different ways. The first is by priority. In other words, list each of the elements that you wish to include in your agreement starting with the most important and ending with the least important. The second method is to organize by topic heading. In other words, all the provisions related to a similar concept should be grouped together (again in order of importance). An example might be all of the provisions related to payment such as monthly payment amount, due date, interest rate, and penalties being listed as a group. While information concerning perhaps the location of the rental property and its description would be under a separate heading.

Going To An Attorney

Once you have done all of this work, gathered your material together and make a photo copy of it. Place the photo copied material in an envelope and take it your attorney. It is important to select an attorney who has experience in writing agreements, and if possible who has had some litigation experience in the area that you wish him to draft the agreement in. This gives him a practical perspective, that you may not have unless you have already been involved with the Courts many times. The attorney will review your material, ask additional questions to insure that he understands the purpose for which you need your agreement and ultimately what you wish to accomplish. The attorney will then generally set an appointment for you to return and review the document which he will prepare.

Reviewing The Document

When you meet with the attorney the second time, it will be important that you go through the agreement paragraph by paragraph to insure that you clearly understand the legal significance of each provision in the agreement. This is important, so that the legal significance of the document matches your intent. Most individuals stop at this stage of agreement writing. However, it is important that you go on to the next stages.

Using The Document

The real proof of any of the usefulness of any document is its effectiveness in real life. As a result, before you can perfect your document, you need to actually use it a few times. As you fill in the blanks on a contract, such as a rental agreement or an agreement to make custom cabinets, it will immediately become apparent whether the agreement is easy to use or not. It is important that your agreement be easy to use, so that you will actually use it. If the document is too cumbersome or too difficult to complete, you're less likely to actually use the agreement and will therefore loose the benefit of having one. It may also become apparent that the layout of the document is incorrect, or that it is missing an important provision.

Modifying The Agreement

Based upon actual experience with the document, you are now in a position to make final corrections and improvements. If your original document has been placed on computer disk, it is easy to have the attorney make the additional corrections that you wish to perfect your document. This should be at very low cost, since most of the work has already been done.