Winning hearts and minds one contracts person at a time is a noble undertaking, but things certainly would go faster if I could convert entire organizations.
For any organization looking to put its contract process on a more efficient footing, the first step would be to adopt a rigorous house style. Compiling a dozen pages or so of guidance of your own would represent progress, but perhaps of a limited sort—there’s a reason MSCD is 450 pages long.
If you want a comprehensive house style, the only plausible course would be to base it on MSCD. In this July 2009 blog post, I offered a model “statement of style” that would allow an organization to say, in a few pages, that it’s adopting a house style based on MSCD.
Has any organization taken me up on my offer? Not that I know of. So I figured it was time to sweeten the pot: If you’re a Fortune 500 company or a law firm in the AmLaw 100 (or a comparable company or law firm in another jurisdiction) and you adopt throughout your organization (or a large part of it) a contract-drafting house style based on MSCD, and if you’re the first to contact me, I’d be happy to provide you with two days of on-site training without charge (you’d cover my expenses), plus 20 hours of free online and telephone consultation on drafting issues. I’d also ask the ABA to make copies of MSCD available to you at the special rate I offer my customers. What I’d ask in return is that you join me in publicizing this initiative.
If this sounds unlikely, ask yourself how it comes to be that lawyers have, lo these many years, drafted contracts without the sort of style guide that’s available for other kinds of writing. And consider what the consequences have been. Given the limited and stylized nature of contract language, and given what’s at stake, contract drafting is crying out for use of a style guide. And without one, you’re wallowing in the mire.