At some point an individual will need an attorney to draft or interpret a contract. Whether one elects to use an attorney is a different matter. So, let us look at the if, when and why one would or would not need an attorney:
If during the course of your vast or not so vast education and life experience you have developed great skill in drafting, interpreting and reading innumerable contracts you could reach a point where you may not need the assistance of an attorney. However, most fall into the Homer J. Simpson category in regards to proofing multipage contracts: “I am not signing this until I read it OR someone gives me the gist of it.” Here is a little gem for you: if someone is requiring you to sign a contract, it is likely not for your benefit. Typically a contract handed to you for your signature is written for the benefit of the party requiring you to sign.
There is nothing like reading a bunch of words you do not understand and acting like you really do by giving the occasional head nod and uttering monosyllabic phrases such as “hmm” and “ah”, as you pour over a one hundred page plus document in the presence of every one waiting for your signature. Somewhere around page 15 of 110 pages is where, if you have glasses, you take them off, sit back and pretend to ponder the magnitude of the clause/paragraph (of the first part that is a subpart of the foregoing clause, notwithstanding the exclusivity of the previous clause…what?) that you just read. Note: even though you have no clue what you are reading, removing the glasses and giving that far-off pondering look makes you look quite intelligent.
At some point during this real-time unfolding disaster you will get the urge to ask what you think will be an intelligent question. This irrepressible force will rise through your body like lightning flashing from the east to the west. By this time you have arrived at the very sobering realization you have no screaming idea what you are reading and are about to commit to. You just know that a question must be proffered. Since you have no idea what you have read you know the question will not be designed to discover pertinent and vital information. No, this is purely a question for show. You have got to let these cats know that you know exactly what you are reading and furthermore we are all on the same level of expertise here. Thus, you ask the question: "As I read through these myriads of paragraphs and clauses, uh, it is clear to me that the, uh, intended bifurcation of the contractious* obligation of the first party to the, uh, second party is obilquitoius* and is drawn in a hypotanusian* manner which shall render all parties, uh, intrapulously* and incondruosly* bound. Am I correct in this interlopulation*?” The sound of crickets is a true indication these academicians have been duly impressed. So, put that in your contract drafting pipe and smoke it. (It should be noted that the words designated with the * are not real words. You knew they were not real words when you somehow formed them and utilized them. However, they sounded smart. Also, saying “uh” in strategic places throughout the question gives the appearance that you gave great thought to this inquiry when in reality this was pulled right out of your boo-tox.)
The bottom line is this: if you are entering into an agreement that requires a signed contract the safe route is to, at the least, get an attorney to review the document and advise you. If you have a contract written in pencil or crayon and the word “contract” is one of the many misspelled words you are likely going to be able to handle that one on your own.