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Supercharge your legal knowledge with these three tools

If you frequently freelance, you absolutely need a comprehensive legal contract. If your funds are tight, these tools are great places to start.

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Creating contracts is one of the most tedious tasks a freelancer is faced with; you either have to bear the expense of hiring an attorney to draw something up for you, or you create the contract yourself and run the risk of missing something that could place you in a legal bind. There are several apps on the market that can give you solid legal contracts without the heavy expense of an attorney, however, I recommend these with caution.

If you frequently freelance, you absolutely need a comprehensive legal contract that will prevent clients from refusing payment if they cancel halfway through a project, suing you if something goes amiss, or just generally protecting yourself from the pitfalls of life. If you’re just getting started as a freelancer and do not have the funds to seek out an attorney, or simply want to see what types of clauses are typically included in a freelance contract, these apps are great places to start.

1. Ink creates contracts in minutes

Ink helps you create solid freelance contracts in minutes. Instead of text fields, Ink asks you a few questions, and generates your agreement based on your answers. If you freelance, you know nothing boosts your credibility more than having a contract on-hand. The only problem is, you waste many unbillable hours customizing this contact to suit the client. Ink helps eliminate this problem. Clients can make changes and sign the agreement right from the Ink app. The only drawback I see to Ink, other than having an attorney create your contract instead, is currently, the contracts are only available to individuals conducting business in the U.S, as they contracts are based on U.S. law. If you’re doing business internationally, you made need more than Ink can offer.

2. Beagle is king for beginners

Beagle is a great tool for creating better contract proposals. Once you’ve been hired by a client, you’ll likely need a solid proposal contract. The proposal and freelance contract go hand-in-hand and Beagle is a great way to get a solid proposal started. Beagle shows you examples of existing contracts and allows you to base your own proposal on one of these. Once you find what you need, you can edit and improve it to make it your own. You can also insert content from previous proposals to speed up the creation process. Beagle also gives you the ability to collaborate on your proposals so they embody the voice of the entire team. This makes it easier to initiate changes before sending it on to the client. Again, a great place to start if you’re new to the freelancing game as it gives you a good idea of what should be within an effective proposal.

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3. PrivacyPal helps you be more alert

PrivacyPal isn’t directly related to contracts, but it is a legal tool. PrivacyPal gives you a quick, simple overview of a website’s Terms of Service. This is important; often times we just click “accept” without really understanding the ramifications regarding how a website intends to use our data. Instead of scanning endless paragraphs of legal jargon, PrivacyPal cuts through all of it and breaks the terms down into simple language. PrivacyPal is a Chrome plugin, allowing you to easily see the Terms of Service on any site.

Conducting business effectively often means having a basic understanding of legal terms and contracts. These tools are a great place to start to boost your understanding of what is expected in legal contracts and Terms of Service.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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