2009 U.S. Seminar Dates, Plus Stray Thoughts on Public Seminars

For those who like planning in advance, here are my West Legalworks seminar dates for 2009:

  • Feb. 24, Houston
  • Mar. 3, Atlanta
  • April 9, Cleveland
  • May 7, Chicago
  • June 2, Philadelphia
  • July 16, Seattle
  • Sept. 15, Los Angeles
  • Sept. 24, Washington, D.C.
  • Oct. 13, Minneapolis
  • Oct. 27, Boston
  • Nov. 17, New York
  • Dec. 8, San Francisco

I’m pleased that West Legalworks opted to re-up for another year. That indicates that the seminars are meeting a demand. For instance, last week over 50 people attended my Seattle seminar. That’s a big turnout, given the fee and the fact that attending the seminar means a day away from the office. For reasons that escape me, interest varies significantly from city to city, but so far in only one city—Phoenix—has the seminar proved a washout.

I’ve spoken with plenty of participants who’ve found the seminar very useful. But it’s the dissatisfied ones that tend to catch my attention. With apologies to Tolstoy, happy seminar participants are all alike; every unhappy seminar participant is unhappy in his or her own way. So here’s a sampling of complaints.

Understandably, some Seattle participants were unhappy that the second edition wasn’t ready in time to hand out to them. I hope that their annoyance will ebb once the book shows up in the mail in a month or so.

Some people have suggested that I stop referring to myself so much; in an evaluation, a Seattle participant complained that I began every sentence with “I”. I’d put a different spin on this. I’m passionate about this subject; in a field desperately in need of change, a bit of passion is perhaps in order. And I’m the only person doing what I do, so it’s inevitable that my experiences should feature in my discussion of the subject. Anyway, who would want to attend a seminar that’s limited to cold-blooded analysis? You can get that from the book. Perhaps my melding of analysis, polemic, and anecdote, together with the opportunity for interaction, are what make the seminar more interesting than the dry-as-dust event it might otherwise be. The seminar evaluations suggest that for most participants, that’s the case.

Every so often a participant will suggest in an evaluation that the usages I recommend aren’t objectively more efficient, that instead they simply represent my personal preferences. I attempted to address that in this December 2007 post.

On a related note, some participants have thought that I’ve been dismissive of comments from the floor, and I’ll do my best to be sensitive to that. But my approach is premised on the notion that for any given drafting goal, one usage will be most efficient, the others less so. If a participant suggests one of the less-efficient approaches, I’ll say so, and without dwelling on the matter, as we have a lot to get through in a day. As long as I’m respectful about it, feelings shouldn’t be bruised.

In Seattle, I encountered for the first time the problem of background chatter; a couple of the participants made note of it in their evaluations. I sporadically paused the proceedings until things quieted down, but I should probably have just asked people to be a little quieter.

Every once in a while it’s apparent that a participant is predisposed to be unhappy. That was the case with one Seattle participant, who took it upon herself to make it clear, with much derision, that she thought I was talking nonsense. Such is life.

But the fact that the show goes on indicates that participant satisfaction far outweighs any dissatisfaction. And for my part, I enjoy the seminars immensely. Sharing my unlikely passion with others is my reward for the solitary labor of thinking and writing. I know there’s plenty of room for improvement; I’ve benefited from the evaluations that participants have submitted, and I welcome any additional observations.

In any event, I hope to see some of you in 2009, if not sooner.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.