By Demetrio Zema, Founder & Director
We get it … lawyers seem unnecessarily expensive, and sorting out your legal needs is not high on the priority list when building a start-up.
While DIY legal templates are often better than documents that have been ‘copied and pasted’ from another company (yes, this does actually happen), entrepreneurs (much like IKEA enthusiasts) should be cautious of the limitations these documents have.
If due care isn’t taken to ensure your ‘Astrid’ chair is assembled correctly, you may be exposing yourself to unnecessary and unmitigated risk.
If you're considering using a DIY legal template, here are three things to look out for in your documents:
1. Is the document suitable and tailored for your business?
Legal documents should be tailored to your individual business. If using a DIY template, you should make sure that the documents generated are industry-specific and cover matters relevant to your business.
For example, if you are a software developer, do your terms and conditions adequately deal with the parties’ intellectual property rights?
Even a seemingly minor oversight in your document might make it unenforceable or result in a costly dispute.
2. Does the document apply the appropriate law?
Before using a DIY template, check whether it is drafted for the correct jurisdiction. Does the document apply the laws relevant to your state/territory? Does the document consider any national laws, for example, Australia’s strict consumer protection laws?
To save yourself embarrassment, it's also important to check whether the other party will be in the same jurisdiction, or if you need an agreement that will be binding on an interstate or overseas party.
Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be the first Australian entrepreneur who is sending out Non-Disclosure Agreements listing California, USA as the appropriate jurisdiction.
3. Does the document protect your future interests?
Simply having a DIY legal template in place will not always protect you and your business. Effective legal documents should provide your start-up with the flexibility to seamlessly scale up or down.
Engaging a lawyer in your entrepreneurship journey to assist with preparing your legal documents can help guide you and protect you in achieving your long-term goals and objectives.
Just like the transition from IKEA furniture in your first apartment out-of-home to designer furniture in your first family home, it’s important to ensure your legal documents too transition with the growth of your business.
So if you choose to use IKEA furniture in your start-up, just ensure you follow the instructions carefully, and check all the nuts and bolts are screwed in correctly.
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