The Joys and Perils of Sample Forms

The Joys and Perils of Sample Forms

When drafting a particular type of contract, it is common to review sample contract forms and use them as a template. Such sample forms can be helpful in assisting the drafter with the proper style, format and language of a contract.

Drafter's Tip

Although each contract is unique, through these sample forms, the drafter may discover provisions that he or she would never have thought to include otherwise. Larger law firms tend to have many such forms located within the company’s knowledge database which are searchable by either the contract heading or key words located within the document. However, it is advisable to avoid using solely in-house documents as models for your contract. Numerous websites contain sample contract forms for different types of agreements.

The more sample forms reviewed, the greater the chances that key provisions will not be omitted. It is important, however, to use the sample forms merely as guidelines for a particular contract and personalize the contract as necessary. Too often, younger associates (in particular) assume that because a contract form has been used by others in the past, this must be “the way things are done”. The mere fact that a law firm has been drafting a contract in a certain manner for many years does not preclude the possibility that such contract language is incorrect.