I might have sent a misleading signal with my recent post about the subjunctive mood in contracts (here).
I’m not suggesting that you all need to start worrying about the subjunctive, in addition to everything else. It’s simply an issue that crossed my mind, so I spent a few minutes thinking about it and doing some research. And then I wrote about it, because that’s what I do—unless I’ve articulated my thoughts, I can’t claim to understand something. As usual, I put my analysis out there for anyone interested, but that probably doesn’t amount to very many of you. Most people don’t have the appetite or the aptitude for the full gruesome details of what I do. And more importantly, you have other things to worry about.
In a way, this applies to my expertise generally. I started doing what I do because I figured that if we want to commoditize contract language, first we have to come up with guidelines. Plenty of others have found those guidelines (contained in MSCD) useful, but the only people who need to master the guidelines beginning to end are contract-drafting specialists. (I wrote about them in this post.) It makes sense to assign to a specialist cadre the task of compiling contract language (ideally automated), leaving everyone else to do deals.
So only contract-drafting specialists should be aware of the role of the subjunctive in contracts. And perhaps most people who work with contracts need only the highlights of my guidelines. That’s what my next book, Drafting Clearer Contracts: A Concise Style Guide for Organizations, will consist of. It’s slowly taking shape: one of my tasks this weekend is to review a mock-up of a chapter.