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Release of Liability: what is it good for?

We’ve been taking your questions and slingin’ answers this week and we got a goodie in the other day we thought we’d tackle since it deals with our favorite topic—contracts and agreements!

The Question:

“Does a release of liability alone protect me when I’m working with my clients?”

First, we want to say kudos to you for having your clients sign something! It’s all too easy for business owners to start working with clients and get absolutely nothing signed. (AKA the ‘hope for the best’ business plan.)

However, here’s the ‘but’ (which you knew was coming, right?): a release of liability alone is not likely to cover ALL of the details you want when starting to work with someone. This is why we always recommend using a client service agreement when working with clients.

A client service agreement is all about your relationship with your clients or customers, and it’s imperative that you have one. If you’re a consultant, coach, or other service professional, it’s vital that your clients know what to expect from you and and what their responsibilities are as they work with you. A well-drafted client service agreement memorializes the basic terms of your relationship with your client. It also provides next steps in the event something unexpected happens. Many hesitate to use contracts because they feel too formal or adversarial but contracts can prevent disagreements and confusion with your customers, which in turn can prevent any need for litigation (you can read more about client service agreements here).

Another important reason a release of liability alone is unlikely to protect you fully is that it probably doesn’t have all the boilerplate clauses you’ll need. Boilerplate is all the standard language in contracts that tends to stay the same, no matter what kind of contract it is. It’s all that stuff at the end of the contract that may seem like unnecessary legal jargon to the untrained eye, but—hark!—it’s actually very important.

It covers things like what happens in the event that the parties to a contract have to litigate, which state’s laws apply, whether the prevailing party is awarded attorney’s fees, which court a lawsuit has to be filed in, whether the agreement can be edited or updated and how, and more. So there are a lot of things covered in the boilerplate that are super important.

So….overall, no: a release of liability is not enough to protect your work with a client. Get your CSA locked and loaded so that you can avoid any legal drama now and in the future. Protect yourself before you wreck yourself!

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