Don’t take leftover drugs that were prescribed for someone else

common-sense advice that businesses often don’t follow

You’re coughing one morning while talking with your company’s recently hired vice president. “Hey,” he says, “I have some leftover cough medicine that I was prescribed last year when I was working at my old job. I can bring it in and you can use it.”

You don’t know if your illness is the same as the VP’s, how the drug may interact with other medications that you take, and whether the drug has passed its expiration date. So are you going to take the medicine? Of course not, but businesses do this kind of thing all the time with contracts.

A business needs a contract. Someone says that he has a form from an old job that could be used. And the company uses it. No one thinks about whether the leftover contract is fully appropriate for the new situation, whether the contract could affect other agreements the company has, and whether the contract has been rendered obsolete by recent legal developments.

You don’t take others’ leftover prescription drugs because you don’t want to end up in the emergency room. You shouldn’t use leftover contracts because you don’t want to end up in a courtroom.

Do-it-yourself contracts don’t save money in the long run. Sooner or later one of those contracts will land you in court, and the legal fees to clean up the resulting mess will far outstrip any cost savings realized by not getting the contract done right.