There are several free contract template resources online. Some of the free contract template brands include:
- Rocket Lawyer
- Legal Zoom
- Jot Form
- Panda Doc
This article is shows the steps taken to create a Non-Disclosure Agreement in the state of Florida, USA, using Rocket Lawyer. Thereafter, a comparison of the other contract template brands listed above will show the strategic advantages of each brand.
Step 1: Choose a Template Provider
In this example, Rocket Lawyer provides the created contract template.
Step 2: Create a Contract Template
Select the state which the contract pertains, and then click “Make document”.
Next, use the calendar date-picker to determine when the Agreement will become effective.
Note: today's date will appear until a different date is selected. In this example, the effective date selected in the calendar date-picker is May 7, 2021.
Notice that there is a draft template at the bottom of the screen. With each step of the template creation process, subjective data fields are filled-in with the choices selected. For example, see that the effective date that was just selected in the previous step appears in the template draft “Continue” is clicked (previous step).
Next question, “Who will disclose confidential information?”
If a person, enter personal details. If a company, enter company details. In this example, a company is going to disclose confidential information.
Next question, “Who will be receiving the confidential information?”
If a person, enter personal details. If a company, enter company details. In this example, a company is going to receive confidential information.
Notice that the draft template at the bottom of the screen is updated with the data entered so far.
Next question, “Why will the confidential information be disclosed to the receiving entity?” Describe the reason for this contract template in text format.
Next question, “Will this Agreement include a non-circumvention clause?” “Non-circumvention” means that the receiving entity cannot do business with the giving entity without the giving entity giving permission.
Next question, “Will the receiving entity be required to protect the confidential information after the term of the Non-Disclosure Agreement ends?”
Next question, “How long will the receiving entity be required to protect the confidential information after the term of the Agreement?”
Next question, “How long will the obligations of this Non-Disclosure Agreement apply?”
Step 3: Create an Account to Save Your Document
View the RocketLawyer.com document created at the bottom of the page.
View additional pages as necessary by clicking the forward or backward arrows at the bottom of the contract template.
Lawyer Fee Statistics
Writersdigest.com states that hiring a lawyer to create a contract can range from $300-$1,000. If the lawyer is also hired to negotiate terms of a contract, the expense can range from $500-$3,000.
Contract templates are cost-savers, but also time-savers. When a contract template is established, then the other data to change from one contract (of the same type, i.e., Non-Disclosure Agreement) to another includes subjective party data. Such data includes the giving party’s name, receiving party’s name, addresses, and the other data shown in the contract template creation example above.
Lawyer Strategy for Startups
Startups are often funded by the President. The operating capital budget usually has very little disposable cash flow after allocating funds for machinery, office lease, office equipment, marketing, logo graphics, starting payroll, insurance, etc. The budget for lawyer advice and contract template creation can be spent quickly when a lawyer is charging $400/hour while revenue for the new business startup is $50/hour.
Many small businesses will hire a lawyer to create a contract template for the first contract of a certain topic. Then, reuse that contract with other contracts of the same type, with other parties. Using a free online contract template option is a popular choice, particularly because an agreement between parties does not have to be created by a lawyer to have legal obligation. An agreement is, of course, just as legal with or without a lawyer involved in the contract creation process.
LegalZoom.com offers several contract templates, and other forms that are better communicated in writing than verbally, such as an employee written warning, letter of resignation, final notice, or a letter of intent.
Legal Zoom also offers contract template creation, with more detailed options. For example, a Non-Disclosure Agreement can be made in several formats:
- Unilateral Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Independent Contractor Non-Disclosure Agreement
Legal Zoom offers descriptions which more clearly point a user in the appropriate direction. The legal advice is often canned and prepared in advance. But there is the ability to ask questions on the Legal Zoom website, though it is unclear the response time.
Jot Form offers contract templates with some layout garnishments, such as font customization, adding images or logo to a contract, etc.
Aside from the visual aesthetics, Jot Form has all the essential components of a contract in their templates. Jot Form offers other pertinent document templates, such as a quote (i.e., RFP), business plan, certificate, medical history. These are not contracts per se, but they are relevant, especially to the small business owner. Much like the Rocket Lawyer template example above, creating a document using Jot Form is user-intuitive. Follow the prompts, step-by-step, answering questions and entering data at each step. After all questions are answered, Jot Form provides the completed document template.
The choice to use Jot Form seems to be the preference for a visually pleasing appearance, especially to the first page of a contract. Jot Form also offers a myriad of options for sole proprietors that dream of growing their LLC into an S-Corp, or their S-Corp into a C-Corp.
Panda Doc’s niche seems to be single transactions for everyday contract template users, both in the small business environment and in the non-business environment.
The small business environment seems to cover contract template topics such as auto repair, graphics design, plumbing contract. These templates are likely more widely used by the mom-and-pop auto mechanic instead of Honda Motors, or a freelance graphic designer acquiring their first few clients instead of Fast Signs or another professional grade publisher.
The non-business environment contract templates available from Panda Doc seem to cater to non-business entities doing transactions with other non-business entities. Examples are a bill of sale for a car, car receipt, or a one-page sales proposal template.
While a small company’s budget for legal advice and contract creation may be limited, especially at the early stages of the company’s existence, it can be more costly to a small business that agrees to a contract when details are not fully understood. Using contract templates from a trusted source is wise and can save time and money. As a small business grows and revenue increases to profitability, legal counsel can be used. Still, many companies use past contract templates again and again as a strategy to keep legal fees low.