Online Class: Contract Law 101 - An Introduction

In this course we will begin by examining contract basics by explaining what a contract is and the various contract types.

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  • 11
  • 13
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  • 10
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  • 1.0

Course Description

Every day, you interact with the world of contracts. Whether it's the simple act of buying a cup of coffee, purchasing a ticket to a football game, or engaging in business negotiations, contracts permeate our daily lives. However, how many truly understand the nuances of US contract law and the implications of these binding agreements? With this comprehensive introductory course, you'll delve deep into the intricacies of contract law in the United States and gain invaluable knowledge to navigate life's many agreements more confidently.

Our 11-lesson program offers both a panoramic view and intricate details of US contract law. At the outset, we demystify what contracts are, breaking down their foundational concepts and highlighting their diverse types. From there, we transition into an exploration of the essential elements that form the backbone of most contracts. Simultaneously, you'll grasp how the US legal system interprets and applies these elements, safeguarding rights and ensuring fairness.

Now, let's tackle a common misconception. Many believe that contracts are purely about signing a document. However, the true essence of a contract lies in the three pivotal components – offer, consideration, and acceptance. Through illustrative examples, we'll elucidate these core concepts, ensuring you're well-equipped to discern valid contractual agreements from mere casual conversations.

A fundamental question arises: Who can legally enter into a contract? Through real-world scenarios, we'll unveil the criteria determining a person's capacity to contract. From minors to mentally incapacitated individuals, we'll navigate the nuances ensuring equitable dealings for all.

But understanding contracts isn't merely about their creation. Effective negotiation skills and the ability to draft sound contractual agreements are equally vital. Through practical exercises and illustrative samples, you'll sharpen your aptitude in both these areas, positioning yourself for advantageous agreements.

Yet, not all that glitters is gold. Contracts can sometimes veer into murky waters. As such, we'll journey into the realm of unfair and illicit contracts, offering insights into when and how these can be legally challenged. Additionally, what happens when a contract meets its natural end, or when disputes arise leading to premature termination? We tackle these questions head-on, exploring the dynamics of contract breach, the potential for voiding agreements, and the intricate dance of rescission claims.

Expanding our scope, we also spotlight specialized contract scenarios, a domain where generic rules sometimes give way to specific stipulations. Whether it's the real estate sector, intricate financing deals, or social contracts like marriage, we'll provide tailored insights, enriching your understanding manifold.

As we near the course's conclusion, we address a highly contemporary issue – the nexus between contract law and the burgeoning digital realm. In an age where online transactions and digital agreements are skyrocketing, understanding the legal ramifications in this domain is paramount.

In wrapping up our journey, here's a promise: By the end of this course, whether it's purchasing your dream home, negotiating a job contract, or simply understanding the terms of an online subscription, you'll handle every contractual interaction with heightened awareness and confidence.

Course Breakdown:

  • Lesson 1: Contract Basics – Understanding the Foundation
  • Lesson 2: Diving Deep: Contract Elements and U.S. Law
  • Lesson 3: Upholding the Deal: Mechanisms of Contract Enforcement
  • Lesson 4: The Art of Agreement: Offer and Acceptance Explained
  • Lesson 5: Crafting Contracts: Mastering Negotiation and Drafting
  • Lesson 6: Treading with Caution: Improper Contractual Scenarios
  • Lesson 7: The Fine Print: Navigating Unfair Contractual Clauses
  • Lesson 8: Full Circle: Contract Termination and Completion
  • Lesson 9: A Deeper Dive: Specialized Contractual Situations
  • Lesson 10: Beyond the Basics: Advanced Contractual Scenarios
  • Lesson 11: Surfing the Web: Contract Law in the Digital Age

Embark on this enlightening journey and unlock the world of contracts like never before. Secure your spot today and lay the foundation for a future of informed decisions and successful negotiations.

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Course Motivation

What is a Contract?
When two or more individuals or groups agree to have an exchange of promises, a contract has been entered into. Though most people are familiar with a contract agreement between commercial entities, like an employment or a sales contract, you have technically entered into a contract when you agree to help your friend move his personal belongings in exchange for pizza and beer. A contractual agreement can be made between a plumber offering free plumbing services in exchange for free package shipping by a freight company. As long as the parties agree to the exchange being made, a contract exists.
A contract is a legally binding, enforceable agreement between two or more parties through which one party offers a value(either in service or through a good) in exchange for the other party's value (which could be in the form of compensation). These values can include a commitment to perform or to forbear, not perform, an act, or to enter into, or to maintain a relationship. For the contract to be enforceable, there has to be a meeting of the minds between the participants; all parties bound by the contract must fully understand and be competent to enter the agreement.
Contracts may be written, oral, or implied by a person's behavior. A written contract is one in which the parties sign an agreement that specifies the terms, conditions, payment, and other provisions that bind the parties together. This is the most easily enforceable contract situation. An oral contract occurs when both parties can be shown to verbally agree on a few fundamental aspects of an exchange of values. The oral contract is difficult to enforce due to the lack of evidence needed to prove wrongdoing or non-performance. An implied contract is an unwritten agreement based on the behavior of one or both parties relative to an exchange. Again, because of a lack of proof, implied contracts are difficult to enforce; although a history of behavior towards fulfilling a contract can show intent to complete the agreement. Some states require written contracts where completion or conditions extend for longer than one year, such as a real estate transaction or commercial construction projects.
The essence of a contract lies in the reciprocal or mutual obligations that each party agrees to when entering the contract. As the old saying goes, "One hand washes the other." Each participant is required, after accepting the agreement, to fulfill its requirements within the terms of the contract. In the U.S., laws mandate that these obligations fundamentally bind the contractors together. There are mechanisms available which can dissolve the agreement once the contract is accepted; however, the parties must complete their commitments or face a potential lawsuit from the party that suffers due to the unfulfilled contract.
The agreement is comprised of two major concepts: offer and acceptanceThe offering entity (offeror) extends a promise, and then when the receiving party (offeree) accepts the terms of the agreement, the parties are said to be under contractThe offer is a consideration by the offeror to perform, or not perform, an activity, while the acceptance by the offeree is made by expressing his assent to the contract (typically through signature for written contracts). Simply discussing the offer does not constitute a contract; there must be firm acceptance in order for the contract to be valid. 

What factors make a contract valid? A valid contract is one which can show a meeting of the minds and assent by both parties, and establishes an exchange of value. These standards exist for all contractual relationships. For example, if you are shopping for home furnishings and choose to purchase a piece that is out of stock, if the shopkeeper offers to order the item and you instruct him to do so, you have entered into a valid contract. Even if no documentation exists, you are technically obliged to purchase the item when it is delivered. Terms can be challenged, especially if they are proven to be illegal, unethical, or impossible to perform; however, the validity of the contract still stands if the two conditions (assent and value exchange) can be shown.

Every day we enter into contracts, even when performing the simplest tasks. Though most contracts are enforceable at some level, many times unfulfilled contracts get dismissed. Busy schedules and a lack of significant damages lead many people to simply abandon challenging a party who has not performed.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Lesson 1. Contract Basics

Lesson 1 discusses what a contract is and how it works. We'll cover offer, acceptance, consideration, value, and other contractual fundamentals. A review of several contract types concludes this lesson. 13 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Contract Law; Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 : Contract Basics

Lesson 2. Contract Elements and U.S. Law

Lesson 2 discusses the key elements that comprise a contract. We cover some common terms, the parties that create a contract, and other factors included in an agreement. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 : Contract Elements and US Law

Lesson 3. Contract Enforcement

Lesson 3 discusses the methods of resolving disputes between parties to a contract. We cover court action and alternative dispute resolution options, such as arbitration, mediation, collaborative law, and negotiation. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Enforcement
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 : Contract Enforcement

Lesson 4. Offer and Acceptance

Lesson 4 discusses some key details of the fundamental aspects of a contract: offer, consideration, and acceptance. We will cover valid offers and the timing of acceptance, as well as define appropriate consideration within a contract. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 4: Offer & Acceptance

Lesson 5. Negotiating and Writing a Contract

Lesson 5 addresses a party's ability to contract and covers impairment situations. We then discuss the mindset entering negotiations. Finally the benefits of writing the contract are examined and some specific clauses are mentioned. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 : Negotiating and Writing a Contract

Lesson 6. Improper Contract Situations

Lesson 6 looks at improper contracting activities that can be challenged by an injured or offended party. 8 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 : Improper Contract Situations

Lesson 7. Unfair Contractual Conditions

Lesson 7 discusses situations where the assent to or construction of a contract can be deemed unfair. We'll cover duress, undue influence, and impairment. Clauses that can be considered unfair are covered as well. Additional lesson topics: Duress 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 : Unfair Contractual Conditions

Lesson 8. Contract Termination and Completion

Lesson 8 describes the methods of canceling or ending a contract. We look at breach, estoppels, void, completion, and rescission. Damages awarded for breach of contract are also covered. 11 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 : Contract Termination & Completion

Lesson 9. Special Contract Situations

Lesson 9 discusses unique contracts that have specific requirements. We cover real estate agreements, credit and financing agreements, contracts with government, and labor agreements. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 : Special Contract Situations

Lesson 10. More Special Contract Situations

Lesson 10 examines two more unique contract situations: Intellectual Property and Social Contracts. We discuss various protections of intellectual property, and cover key terms within an IP contract. 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 : More Special Contract Situations

Lesson 11. Contract Law and The Internet

Lesson 11 discusses contract law that governs the activities conducted through the Internet. 56 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: E-Signing; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 : Contract Law & The Internet
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Define what a contract is.
  • Define the contract elements and how it relates to U.S. law.
  • Summarize contract enforcement.
  • Define the Offer and Acceptance of contracts.
  • Describe the processes of negotiating and writing a contract.
  • Summarize improper contract situations.
  • Summarize unfair contractual conditions.
  • Describe contract termination and completion.
  • Summarize special contract situations.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
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Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Contract Law 101 - An Introduction
Course Number: 8900104
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: February 2024
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 1.0 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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  • "The course was easy to follow and well explained in order for mere mortals like me to understand." -- Monique S.
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