Don’t Expect Applause for Writing MSCD-Compliant Contracts

This from a reader:

For documents that I have drafted using your style manual, I do not get comments from clients or other lawyers saying, “Wow, this is so much clearer and easier to read!” So I don’t even have anecdotal evidence to support your approach. My own experience, however, is that it saves me time when I review a document drafted using your style manual. It also saves time when I explain estate planning documents drafted using your style manual to clients, because instead of saying, “Here is what this sentence or paragraph means,” I can simply read it to them almost verbatim. In my mind, just the time savings along is worth the effort.

I’m glad this reader finds my guidelines worthwhile, but what caught my eye was the first sentence.

Other readers have told me that clients have remarked on how clear their drafting is, so I’m not suggesting that this reader’s experience is representative. But more to the point, I suggest that not being patted on the back for your clear drafting has no bearing on the value it adds. In fact, it might be a symptom of that value.

In other words, MSCD-compliant language doesn’t announce itself with fanfare (except in the case of a few notable departures from the traditional dysfunction). Instead, it eliminates the stumbling blocks, the repetition, the redundancy, the obscure legalisms, the archaisms, the inconsistency.

What’s left is the deal. It will never be easy reading, so I don’t think you can count on people strewing rose petals in your path on reading your drafting. Readers get to the substance with less delay and confusion, and your job will be easier as a result. That by itself is plenty to be thankful for.

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.