Fixing Your Contract Templates Isn’t the Place to Economize

You accept that your templates could be substantially improved, in terms of both what they say and how they say it. (You don’t think that’s the case? I’d be happy to show you.) And you’ve accepted my axiom that the task of coming up with optimal contract language is best left to specialists.

But bringing someone in to fix your templates would cost a respectable amount of money, so you propose to save your money by soldiering on with your templates in their current state.

We all have to stick to a budget, and there’s always more to be done than the budget allows. But I suggest that if you don’t find the resources to allow you to fix your template contracts, you haven’t thought through the implications.

Imagine you’re riding a bike and you have a ten-pound load to carry. You carry it in a backpack. No problem.

Now instead spread that load to the wheels. You have a harder time riding:  you have to pump more energy into the bike to get a pound of wheel moving than to get a pound of frame (or backpack) moving. More weight on the wheels means more rotational weight.

Tolerating dysfunctional templates is like tolerating unnecessary rotational weight. Your templates are in motion: the more important a template, the more often you use it. And the more often you experience the dead weight of its dysfunctional prose and its flabby substance. With every transaction, time is wasted in preparing a new contract, reviewing it, negotiating it, monitoring performance under it. Time wasted is money wasted and opportunities lost. And that doesn’t even take into account that you’re exposing yourself unnecessarily to risk of contract disputes.

Make your template contracts clearer and suddenly the pedals start turning faster. You reduce the personnel time spent on each deal and close deals faster. Pretty soon your new templates have paid for themselves.

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.

1 thought on “Fixing Your Contract Templates Isn’t the Place to Economize”

  1. While you are correct, there are few businesses that ultimately agree or care because legal is a cost center in their eyes. It’s often difficult to fully quantify and visualize avoiding costs. And that decreases the incentive/motivation to “invest” in those areas.

    It’s like in baseball where consistently above average steady defense and smart baserunning is less appreciated than home runs, highlight reel catches, and the stolen base. It’s easier to see what you gain than what you do not lose.

    This is why great players like Kenny Lofton are on the outside of the hall of fame looking in, sadly. It is not objectively right, but this is why I often classify your thinking as moneyball for lawyers. Improving your contract is the equivalent of making your player base better at avoiding outs (a limited resource per game).


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