If You Don’t Maintain Your Template Contracts, They’re Doomed to Fail

A law firm’s or law department’s template initiative might fail for any number of reasons: It doesn’t reflect state-of-the-art substance. It uses the dysfunctional language of mainstream contract drafting. It uses Word rather than document-assembly technology. The incentives are sufficiently skewed that no one wants to work on it. Not enough people want to use it. And so on.

But here’s one way to undermine otherwise viable templates—don’t maintain them.

If you don’t put in place a system for updating your template contacts to reflect changes in industry practice and changes in caselaw, not to mention things that you overlooked when you put the templates together, you run the risk of having them gradually become more and more obsolete. And even if no change is warranted, users won’t know that, so they may well be nervous about using the templates.

Maintaining a template doesn’t have to be time-consuming or costly. All that’s required is that a handful of subject-matter experts be on the lookout for relevant developments and pass them on to whoever is responsible for revising the template. Keeping abreast of developments might involve scanning relevant periodicals, reading relevant blogs, and running appropriate alerts on Google and Wexis.

As regards what sorts of things can warrant revising templates, consider, in terms of Koncision’s confidentiality-agreement template, my recent blog posts on no-soliciting provisions in the context of LinkedIn groupsand making an NDA cover past disclosures.

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.