According to the Canadian periodical The Lawyers Weekly, “In the world of contract drafting, Ken Adams is the guru.”
He occupies a unique position in the field of contract drafting, in that he’s the only commentator to focus on the language of contracts—not what you express in a given contract provision, but how to express it clearly and concisely.
His book A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting (ABA 5th ed. 2023) is widely used internationally and has sold tens of thousands of copies. In this review, the English Law Society Gazette said that MSCD is “extraordinary.” For more information, go here.
Ken has given hundreds of public and in-house Drafting Clearer Contracts presentations internationally and offers training online. For more information, go here.
As part of its “Legal Rebels” project, in 2009 the ABA Journal, the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, named Ken one of 50 leading innovators in the legal profession. And in a 2011 opinion, the Delaware Court of Chancery, the foremost business-law court in the U.S., described A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting as “thought-provoking” and noted that “One can even share and in fact applaud Adams’ encouragement of clearer forms of contract drafting.” The Delaware Chancery Court has continued to cite Ken; see for example this December 2020 blog post.
The Legal Writing Institute awarded Ken the Golden Pen Award for 2014, “to recognize his exemplary work in contract drafting.” And in 2015 the ABA Journal named Ken’s blog to the Hall of Fame of its “Blawg 100”—its list of the hundred best law blogs.
Ken has taught contract drafting as an adjunct professor at Hofstra University School of Law, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Notre Dame Law School.
Since August 2020, Ken has been chief content officer of LegalSifter, an artificial-intelligence company that helps with the contract process. From April 2018 through July 2020, Ken was an advisor to LegalSifter.
A U.S. citizen, Ken was raised in Africa and Europe; he received all of his secondary and college education in England. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1989, Ken practiced corporate law in New York and Geneva, Switzerland, with major U.S. law firms.
For a copy of Ken’s resume, go here. To see his LinkedIn profile, go here.
“Ken Adams is the contracts professor I wish I had when I was a law student, mentor I wish I had as a new attorney, and friend I am thankful to have now.”
– Nada Alnajafi
“I would follow you into the depths of hell”
– Alex Fagella
“Ken is the closest we have to an objective standard in drafting. I recommend listening to what he has to say.”
– Alex Hamilton
How He Got There
It took more than 20 years of intensive research, writing, and speaking for Ken to transform from practicing lawyer to authority on contract language. That required semantic acuity, writing skills, and an understanding of transactions, but perhaps even more significant has been his tenacity, which is a function of his temperament.
For more on that, see this November 2020 blog post.
“Ken Adams is a ruthless assassin of linguistic dysfunction. His scholarship has vastly improved my ability to draft, interpret, and negotiate contracts.”
– Matthew Boyd
“I want to be my best at contract drafting and negotiating, so I regularly check what Ken Adams says. Ken’s expertise is a valuable resource.”
– Vicky Amen
“Ken’s MSCD and his training should be a requirement for every transactional lawyer. I routinely get compliments on my contract drafting, and I owe a lot of that to Ken.”
– Chris Brown
What Others Have Said
- On 13 August 2020, Business Law Today published this item on A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting after 16 years.
- On 21 October 2019, Above the Law published Olga Mack’s interview with me about making the contracts process more efficient (here).
- On 12 September 2018, the ABA Journal published an article about, and a podcast featuring, Ken; both are available here.
- In two posts, one dated 28 January 2018 (here) and the other dated 9 April 2016 (here), Casey Flaherty considers the significance of Ken’s work.
- In episode 54 of the Civil Engineering Podcast, released on 29 March 2017, Ken was interviewed about how to make engineering contracts clearer.
- On 8 October 2013, the WSJ Law Blog published this item about Ken’s article critiquing an opinion of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
- An article on practice support lawyers in the July 2011 issue of the ABA Journal (here) cites Ken’s views and mentions his blog post on the subject.
- An article in the 29 October 2009 issue of The Wall Street Journal (here) quotes Ken on the subject of the phrase “throughout the universe.”
- As part of its “Legal Rebels” project, in September 2009 the ABA Journal named Ken Adams one of fifty “legal innovators.” Click here to go to the ABA Journal’s profile.
- The 17 July 2009 issue of The Lawyers Weekly, the Canadian periodical, contains an article about Ken’s efforts to turn contract drafting into a commodity task (PDF copy here).
- An article in the 24 March 2009 issue of The Financial Times profiles Ken and his approach to contract language. Click here to go to it (free registration required); click here to go to a pdf copy.
- The 14 December 2007 issue of The Lawyers Weekly, the Canadian legal periodical (PDF copy here), contains an interview with Ken. (The first page contains a photo; the interview is on the second page.)
- An article in the 25 October 2006 issue of The New York Times (here) mentions that Ken was retained by Rogers Communications as an expert witness in the dispute over the “million-dollar comma.”
- An article in the 15 August 2005 issue of The Legal Intelligencer (PDF copy here) discusses Ken’s contract-drafting course at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
- An article in the 31 August 2001 issue of The New York Law Journal (PDF copy here) profiles Ken and discusses his first book, Legal Usage in Drafting Corporate Agreements.
“As part of my law practice, I do a Google search for ‘Ken Adams [insert contracts topic here]’ more often than almost any other author.”
– Joseph Morris
“Let there be a Ken Adams everywhere, wherever a contract is being drafted!”
– Krishna Rao
“No one understands absurdity in contract drafting more than Ken Adams. If every lawyer was half as sharp as him, my billable hours would be halved.”
– Allen Mendelsohn