An AdamsDrafting Mini-Exhibit of Contract-Drafting Art: Recent Illustrations by Russell Christian

Contrary to reputation, I’m not just a dry-as-dust, express-the-meaning-of-the-parties guy. I have a sensitive, truth-and-beauty side too. And to demonstrate that, I now bring you—cue tasteful music—the first AdamsDrafting art exhibit!

It showcases the work of Russell Christian, a talented illustrator. And it was made possible by that noted patron of the arts, Business Integrity, developer of ContractExpress document-assembly software (and sponsor of my seminars and webcasts).

But first, the backstory: At the invitation on Business Integrity, last October I was on a panel at the annual meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel. The topic was, unsurprisingly, document assembly, and for the first part of the session we prepared a short PowerPoint presentation that featured half-a-dozen of Russell’s illustrations. We had intended to turn it into an online movie, but unfortunately we had to scrap that idea. I nevertheless thought that Russell’s illustrations deserved to be seen, hence this post.

Now, on to the artwork! The image below I call “The Markup from Hell.” It expresses perfectly the suffering of a rational contract reviewer stuck in an irrational world. Think Hieronymus Bosch.

Next is “Ready for Signing.” It’s serene and pregnant with promise. I see de Heem! I see Cezanne!

Below is the utopian “Commoditizing the Contract Process.” I get choked up just looking at it. 

And lastly, we have an image that Russell created at the request of The National Law Journal to accompany my article “Dysfunctional Drafting.” I call this one “The Mainstream Drafter.” All joking aside, I think it’s clever.

Here’s the one sensible suggestion I have to offer based on my experience of putting together our PowerPoint presentation for the ACC session: investing in an original and imaginative set of illustrations is a great way to make your presentation distinctive. And it shouldn’t cost very much. If that’s something you want to explore, you might want to contact Russell.

By the way, note that the first three images are the property of Business Integrity and the fourth is the property of Russell or ALM.

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.

5 thoughts on “An AdamsDrafting Mini-Exhibit of Contract-Drafting Art: Recent Illustrations by Russell Christian”

  1. These illustrations are great. It seems that more and more communication is moving toward the visual – whether its YouTube, infographics, or something else. Do you see a place for illustrations in contracts?

  2. If we follow Lord Denning's suggestion, we might put red hands (known by printers as manicules) in the margin, pointing to onerous provisions:

    "I agree that the more unreasonable a clause is, the greater the notice which must be given of it. Some clauses which I have seen would need to be printed in red ink on the face of the document with a red hand pointing to it before the notice could be held to be sufficient."

    — Spurling (J.) Ltd. v. Bradshaw [1956] 1 W.L.R. 461, [1956] All E.R. 121 (C.A.)

  3. Mark: I like that idea, particularly if the manicules used have lots of curlicues. But you can be sure that their first use would quickly be followed by litigation claiming inadequate use of manicules … Ken

  4. Ken:

    Liked Andrew's comment and thought your response intriguing. The "flow chart" of which you speak would be valuable for complex formulas as well, particularly as practitioners become less competent with the principles of order of operations in mathematics.

    Note also that diagrams and schematics are required for most patents, and commonly used in engineering design agreements.




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