I Don’t “Tweak” Templates

A few months ago someone contacted me about redrafting their organization’s template confidentiality agreement. It was a simple enough matter, and after some back and forth, I was ready to start.

Then I had a phone call with a colleague of my initial contact. I soon gathered that this person didn’t have in mind my redrafting the template. Instead, I would be “tweaking” it—giving it some sort of plain English veneer. The call ended quickly.

Perhaps in some contexts, if you’re under some sort of constraint, “tweaking” a template makes sense. But if you ask me to improve one of your templates, there’s no saying in advance what I’m going to find when I review the template, and what I’m going to recommend changing. If you put constraints on that change, you’re essentially saying that you want a cosmetic fix.

And as a practical matter, if you want to improve a standard commercial contract, it’s going to be way quicker, and less expensive, if I simply plug in my language instead of performing surgery on yours. The result might be that you change a lot of words and relatively little of the substance, but there’s no reason to cling to the current language.

So no tweaking! :-)

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.