A Copy of MSCD for Each Seminar Participant

The title of this post sounds aspirational, rather like “A chicken in every pot.” But it’s not: instead, it’s how I conduct my “Drafting Clearer Contracts” seminars.

I suppose at some seminars the speaker introduces you to their approach to something, with the seminar acting as a teaser. If you like the seminar, you have the option of investing in more of whatever the speaker has to offer.

That’s not the way my “Drafting Clearer Contracts” seminar works, at least as regards my book A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. Although the seminar is an introduction to my approach to contract language, I don’t leave it up to participants to decide whether they want to buy a copy of MSCD. At public versions of the seminar, every participant gets a copy of MSCD at no extra charge. For the in-house version, I ask my customer to buy from the American Bar Association, at a discount, a copy of MSCD for each participant.

Why include copies of the book as part of the seminar? Because drafting clearer contracts requires applying a comprehensive set of guidelines. The only place you’ll find a comprehensive set of guidelines is MSCD, and the seminar can only scratch the surface of those guidelines. The book has been accepted as a unique resource and has sold tens of thousands of copies around to world, so it’s not as if I’m forcing anyone to buy something sketchy.

Not buying the book is a recipe for failure, as participants won’t be able to build on the seminar by consulting MSCD. That’s so even if you buy a copy to be shared by participants. I’ve heard over and over from readers that they keep their copy close at hand and consult it regularly. If you force someone to retrieve a copy from a library or someone else’s office, they likely won’t bother.

And whether a participant’s copy is paid for through an increase in the fee for a public seminar or by paying the ABA, participants are getting the book at a substantial discount. The portion of the fee for the public seminar that is attributable to the participant getting a copy of MSCD is trivial. For purposes of in-house seminars, the book is a bargain, whether you buy ten copies or (as in the case of a government agency that placed its order last week) 80 copies.

I suppose I could do in-house seminars without requiring my customers to buy copies of the book, but I see no good reason to do so. They might want to decide whether the seminar is worthwhile before buying the book, but MSCD and I have enough of a track record that I’m comfortable asking them to make in advance the modest investment involved.

Furthermore, I’m put in an awkward position when a customer doesn’t buy copies for an in-house seminar. I can’t avoid mentioning the book throughout the seminar; if participants don’t have a copy, they might well think I’m plugging the book. The first time I did an in-house seminar for a customer that didn’t buy copies of the book, one participant made exactly that complaint in an evaluation. I don’t wish to repeat that experience.

Will every participant make good use of their copy of MSCD? Probably not. But that simply reflects that not every participant will have the time, inclination, or aptitude to do the follow-up work required to become an informed consumer of contract language. The fix for that isn’t skimping on copies of MSCD but being careful about who you have attend the seminar. And who you have working on your contracts.

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.