Effecting Change at English Law Firms: An Exchange of Emails

After Tuesday’s panel discussion in London I received the following email from a mid-level lawyer at one of the major English law firms: I thought you were great. I also thought that your contribution had a slight air of shouting into the wind—I agree with everything you say, but conceptually there is not a sufficient meeting of the minds elsewhere. … Read More

Someone Offers a Defense of Brain-Dead Contract Archaisms

Early this year I wrote about attempts to argue that changing traditional contract legalese is a bad idea, either because traditional legalese works (see this post) or because it might work (see this post). Well, I’ve encountered another article that makes the same sort of argument. In Contracts Part III: The Role of Legalese in Contract Drafting (here), published in something … Read More

“Freakonomics” on Inertia

A roadblock to progress in clearer contract drafting is the dead hand of inertia. I’ve written a fair amount about it (see these posts). Over the weekend I was in the kitchen listening to WNYC when a rebroadcast of the Freakonomics “Think Like a Child” episode came on. (That episode is available here.) Below is an extract of the transcript, consisting of … Read More

The Endless Inefficiency of M&A Drafting

You might find of interest The Inefficient Evolution of Merger Agreements, a law-review article by two law-school professors, Robert Anderson and Jeffrey Manns. (You can get a PDF copy here.) The authors did something that is still relatively novel when it comes to study of contract drafting—they engaged in empirical research. Specifically, they used computer textual analysis to analyze 12,000 public-company merger agreements … Read More

Spare Us the Legalistic BS: I Respond to an Item on “Above the Law”

Last Friday I noticed this post on Above the Law. It’s by Stefan Savic, an associate at the law firm Balestriere Fariello. The title is Legalese: Won’t Do With It, Can’t Do Without It. According to Savic, traditional contract legalese is impenetrable. He says that although lawyers have been encouraged to use plain English, “the day-to-day legal universe has been slow to move … Read More

How Malcolm Gladwell’s Thoughts on Inertia Relate to Contract Drafting

At the suggestion of @saBEERmetrics I listened to episode 590 (“Choosing Wrong”) of This American Life, the weekly public radio show. I’m glad I did, because it’s about inertia, and in a couple of respects it’s relevant to what I do. What Stops You from Doing What Makes Sense In act one of the episode, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the notion of beliefs and … Read More

Do You Risk Ethics Violations If You Follow My Guidelines? I Respond to a Traditionalist

As their principal objection to tinkering with mainstream contract language, traditionalists offer the notion of “tested” contract language—mess with the standard formulations and you invite a world of risk into your lives. My objection to that objection has been that it’s mostly offered without any backup. Usually it’s a platitude that’s invoked as a matter of expediency, to rationalize maintaining the status … Read More

Changing Contract Legalese: My Response to Keith Lee

Keith Lee is the lawyer behind the blog Associate’s Mind. He’s also author of The Marble and the Sculptor, a book for law students, but that’s beside the point, because what’s on my mind is his most recent blog post. It’s entitled “Should Lawyers Ditch Legalese?” It mentions my recent Beyoncé-inspired post, but I stuck around to read his recommendations on … Read More

What’s Beyoncé Got to Do with Contract Drafting?

Today I put this on Twitter: Y'all haters corny with that "tested language" messCopy-pasters, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh — Ken Adams (@AdamsDrafting) February 29, 2016 It’s one of my more obscure tweets, so allow me to explain: I was channeling Beyoncé. Or more specifically, the first two lines of her new song “Formation.” I haven’t paid much attention … Read More