Many contracts are made up of language that is harder to understand than an announcement on a TTC subway platform. Bob Snider once told me his manager, Shelly, was his shark in the waters – and that’s what a great lawyer should be, your shark in the waters. A good lawyer is a big deal, I had one for a few years and he looked like this guy, his name was Chris (as in Chris Tasmanian Hammerhead).
To the best of my understanding, the contracts are about what the entity hiring expects of you and what means of punishment will ensue if you screw up in any way. Here is a real example provided to the public 80 years ago by two knowledgeable complainants.
The magic word is “indemnify”.
There is always a clause that says something like (composer) will indemnify (TV or film production company) if he screws up. What brilliant Chris did, in the early contracts that came my way to compose music, was enter new clauses that put the onus on the people hiring me to also assume responsibility if they screwed up.
Let’s say the indemnification clause was item 7, well then Chris would add Item 7b and it would say (TV or film production company) will indemnify (composer) if they screw up.
The companies would raise their eyebrows but there was no good reason they could not sign. After all they were asking me to get on my knees and absorb their expenses if I didn’t deliver so why can’t I ask the same back if they don’t deliver? It was magic when they read back his notes. Ruffled all the right feathers and made the relationships decent. I still use contracts he rewrote as templates for contracts I currently receive. That’s also because I can’t afford him anymore.
When a great lawyer becomes a big shot it costs more than a flight to China to just ask them a question on the telephone so catch them when they’re young.