Flipping the Table

On social media, it’s easy enough to find people discussing basic examples of suboptimal contract usages, such as exuberant use of all capitals. Such venting gets plenty of engagement, but generally I don’t join in.

I’m reconciled to saying the same thing over and over again. For example, a search for efforts on my blog pulls up over 200 posts. But I save that for topics where I have something unique to offer and the transactional establishment is fully invested in bad takes.

By contrast, I’m not inclined to wade in every time someone makes what should by now be an obvious critique of a traditional contract usage. For one thing, it’s redolent of a scattershot “tips and tricks” approach to contract usages. Improving contracts requires applying a comprehensive set of guidelines—yeah, MSCD‘s guidelines—rather than banging on about a grab-bag of obvious stuff.

And I’m not sure who the intended audience is. If you’re anything other than a novice and you’re not aware that using all capitals for body text in contracts is a bad idea, it’s because you’re a committed rider of the copy-and-paste train. The odds are remote that you’d see a tweet, smack your forehead, and say, How can I have been so blind!

I aim to offer reliable guidance to my readers. But beyond that, I don’t expect to convert the masses by haranguing them from a soap box. Instead, I want to flip the table. I want to offer a choice to those who work with contracts: keep wasting time and money and exposing yourself to risk and suboptimal outcomes by doing the copy-and-paste thing, or do better by embracing the new and using automated templates infused with real expertise.

I’m acutely aware that I’ve been droning on about this for years but have gotten nowhere. Because I have a fighting chance of making it happen, and because no one else has come remotely close to creating anything satisfactory, I permit myself to keep droning on.

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.

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