Bad Drafting

You Cannot Be an Informed Consumer of Contract Language Without Consulting “A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting”

I’ve been saying this for a while, as an aside in various writings, but I might as well shout it from the rooftops: You cannot be an informed consumer (or producer) of contract language without consulting A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. That’s because MSCD is the only work that offers a comprehensive set of guidelines for the building … Read More

One Contract, A Lot of “Efforts” Inconsistency

I plucked from the SEC’s EDGAR system, largely at random, an asset purchase agreement filed earlier this month. It was drafted by a big law firm, and it contained, along with the usual dysfunction, some glitches that caught my eye. In particular, here are the different efforts (and endeavours) provisions it uses: I’m used to this sort of efforts mish-mash. … Read More

It’s a Bad Idea to Rely on Principles of Interpretation in Deciding on Contract Language

Yesterday I encountered this LinkedIn post about “canons of construction.” (I call them “principles of interpretation.”) The post begins as follows: Tip for law students and newer attorneys: Familiarize yourself with the rules of contract interpretation (often called “canons”), if, like me, you didn’t learn them in law school. Courts rely on these default rules to interpret contracts and statutes. … Read More

Meet Another Proponent of “Tested” Contract Language

I noticed that another legacy-media holdover, Scientific American, has devoted an article (here) to that recent study on lawyer attitudes to contracts legalese. In this recent post, I explain how that study is misleading. But that’s not what this post is about. Instead, in passing I noticed this in the Scientific American article: Jeremy Telman, a law professor at the … Read More

The Hole in Corporate Contracting Where Quality Should Be

Last week I noticed Will EY Law Change The Legal Delivery Paradigm?, by Mark Cohen. It’s about EY, the multinational professional services partnership. Here are the first two paragraphs: EY’s leadership recently green lighted a major restructuring, ending months of heated speculation. The plan has two key prongs: (1) EY’s audit and advisory businesses will split; and (2) the advisory business will … Read More

Excuses for Sticking With Traditional Contract Language

Although no one publicly challenges my recommendations (see this 2018 blog post), I’ve occasionally encountered, in writing and in private exchanges with lawyers and law-school faculty, general arguments for sticking with traditional contract language. Here’s my taxonomy of those arguments. Claiming That Traditional Contract Language “Works” One such argument is that traditional contract language “works.” (See for example this 2017 … Read More

Tidying Up the Other Side’s Messy Draft

A question from a reader: When the other party’s counsel does the first draft, I have to work within the confines of whatever I’m given. In my review, I focus on what doesn’t reflect the deal as I see it or what might cause confusion—trying to turn their draft into a thing of beauty would waste everyone’s time and might … Read More

Contracts as Incantation

Here’s one of today’s tweets: Today's pioneering plain-English initiative: god's acts>acts of god — Ken Adams (@AdamsDrafting) October 29, 2021 It wasn’t entirely inane. A symptom of legalistic jargon is if, in the case of a usage with two or more components, those components are fixed in a certain order. So the phrase is always acts of God, with the … Read More

Random Drafter Shoots Self in Foot Randomly

From this post on D.C. Toedt’s blog I learned about Miller v. Honkamp Krueger Fin. Servs., Inc., No. 20-3061, 2021 WL 3729047 (8th Cir. Aug. 24, 2021) (PDF here). It’s of interest as an instance of a drafter making an odd mistake. In 2006 Miller entered into an employment agreement with HKFS. Among other things, it said that “for a … Read More