New Year, New You, Old Contracts? How to Keep Up with the Times

Jan 21, 2021 | Business Law

With the arrival of 2021, it’s time for business owners to make plans and goals as they embark on a new fiscal year. And it’s time to review and revise contracts—especially with the help of an experienced attorney—because your agreements are only as strong as their legal backing.

Prepare for the new year by dusting off the old papyrus scrolls and bringing your contracts into the 21st century!

Has Covid-19 Changed Your Business?

Many business contracts need to be reviewed annually, although some can wait a couple years before revisiting. But because the pandemic has rewritten our markets and economy, you may need to look over certain contracts sooner than anticipated.

For some, you may only need to add or change particular sections. For others, the pandemic may have restructured your whole business. Either way, because few people alive today have seen anything like the current pandemic, most contracts have not previously contained an “in case of pandemic” clause!

Employment Contracts: Your People Are Where?

Whether you work with regular employees or independent contractors, people have moved all over during the pandemic, and remote working has become the new norm. In addition to a more traditional annual review at the start of the fiscal year, you may need to rewrite current contracts.

For instance, if you have an employee who has moved out of state and has been working remotely, you may have to review your contract to make sure your employment agreement meets the requirements of their new state.

Property Leases and Real Estate

We always recommend reviewing property and equipment leases before renewing them. And with the onset of social distancing, our use of brick-and-mortar business spaces changed drastically. 

Some areas of business seem poised to stay remote because obligatory changes have made paying for a physical workspace unnecessary.

Others have learned the hard way that their employees work best face-to-face, or that a beautiful commercial space is essential to their business model. For these types of business owners, real estate market shifts may make revisiting contracts before renewing even more important.

Remote Business Toolkit: Website and Software Agreements

Software companies or those whose websites provide services have also seen market changes that may have altered business models or policies.

Whether you’ve changed your approach to licensing, expanded the operating systems your product works with, amended privacy practices, changed which products you sell and how, or made any other tweaks to how you do business—you need to revise your contracts. 

If You Aren’t the Only Business Owner in the Room (or on the Zoom)

If you’ve restructured your business or it’s simply been a couple years since you reviewed company contracts, now is the time to do that. And whenever there’s more than one person involved in running a business, it’s a good idea to review documents regularly to be sure everyone’s on the same page. (Pun intended.) 

That’s especially true after a year when markets have changed a lot—and when we know more changes lie ahead. 

Our economy won’t return to what it was, but as a larger proportion of the population is vaccinated, we anticipate a gradual end to social distancing—and the resulting ups and downs as everyone figures out what works in the new, new normal. In other words, even though we’re feeling hopeful about 2021, it’s effectively fresh territory, and there are still adjustments ahead. 

So it’s worth making sure your contracts can do what they’re supposed to—provide legally enforceable business agreements—as we head into the new year.

If you have questions about contracts or business planning, contact us to schedule a consultation. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process.

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