Black’s Law Dictionary defines a contract as “A deliberate engagement between competent parties, upon a legal consideration, to do or abstain from doing, some act.”
In order for a contract to be legally binding, there must be (1) an offer; (2) acceptance of the offer; (3) consideration (bargained-for exchange); (4) mutuality of obligation; (5) mental competency and capacity; and, in certain instances, (6) a written document.
However, there is more to a contract than just legal definitions and requirements. While we enter into contracts all the time, we rarely question the underlying assumptions about conventional contract negotiation, performance and enforcement.
The traditional contractual model pits the parties to a contract against one another as adversaries, rather than collaborators and co-creators of their own legally binding agreements. Its no wonder there is so much breach-of-contract litigation!
Conscious contracting, on the other hand, is a means by which people can empower themselves by consciously co-creating contractual relationships that are aligned with their shared visions, missions, principles and values, as well as co-design alternative dispute resolution plans for addressing change and engaging disagreement in the future.
Linda Alvarez is a lawyer, legal innovator and author of Discovering Agreement – Contracts that Turn Conflict in to Creativity. In her book, Linda proposes that there is a better, more effective and realistic method of contracting. To find out more, listen to a short podcast about Linda’s book.