Does Contract Prose Matter?

Does contract prose matter? Of course it does. Even if you assume that the parties have notionally agreed on the terms of the deal, how you express those terms in a contract can determine how that transaction fares. But many people who work with contracts don’t realize that. Some might be contract managers who regard contract prose as a lawyer … Read More

Changing Your Templates: Slow and Steady or All at Once?

A participant at a recent “Drafting Clearer Contracts” seminar sent me an email saying how much they had enjoyed the seminar. They went on to say that “incorporating the concepts into our templates and drafting will require a slow, steady cultural change.” Regardless of whether cultural change has to be slow and steady, I suggest that it doesn’t reflect reality … Read More

A Reminder of the Limitations of “At Its Sole Discretion”

At MSCD 3.168–.196 and in this article, I discuss why the phrase at its sole discretion and its variants are pernicious. That’s because the unfettered discretion that it seems to suggest can fall foul of the implied duty of good faith. Peter A. Mahler (@PeterMahlerEsq) of the law firm Farrell Fritz offers in this post on his New York Business Divorce blog … Read More

Use of “Paid-Up” and “Royalty-Free” in Granting Language

Yesterday I revisited in this post use of sole and exclusive in granting language in a license agreement. Well, we’re not done, because yesterday I saw the following in a contract: Acme hereby grants Widgetco an irrevocable, worldwide, paid up, royalty-free, exclusive license … That caused me to wonder about paid-up (it’s a phrasal adjective, so I’d use a hyphen) and … Read More

“Well and Truly”

Is there no end to the oddity of traditional contract legalese? Today we consider well and truly, which I was happily unaware of until I considered the recital of consideration featured in this post. Its use of well and truly caused me to hit EDGAR, where I found the following examples: This Agreement and each and all of the Obligations shall survive … Read More

Off-Topic: My Version of an Email Confidentiality Notice

(This is the first post in a new category, “Off-Topic.” Any post in that category will have nothing to do with contract drafting. Don’t worry, this won’t gradually become an off-topic blog.) I recently received the following from a reader: A recent change in IRS regulations has caused my firm, like many others, to drop the Circular 230 disclaimer that … Read More

Lame Word of the Day: “Utmost”

Utmost? WTF! Here are some examples of use of utmost in contracts on EDGAR: … provided that the party so affected shall use its best efforts to avoid or remove the cause(s) of non-performance and observance with utmost dispatch. A Seller’s agent or subagent has the following affirmative obligations: (1) To the Seller. A fiduciary duty of utmost care, integrity, honesty, and loyalty in … Read More

Revisiting “To the Extent That”

MSCD 17.16 deals with the phrase to the extent that. It makes the simple point that although to the extent that is appropriate when the degree to which a provision applies depends on some variable, drafters often use to the extent that when if would be more appropriate. Here are three examples: To the extent that [read If] an Award is intended … Read More

True Obscenity: The Contract Language in “Fifty Shades of Grey”

*This isn’t an April Fools’ prank!* I had been vaguely aware of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy, described in this Maureen Dowd column as “bondage-themed romanticas that have evoked hysteria, whipping up a frenzy with the housewives of Long Island and rippling out from there.” They feature a dashing mogul, Christian Grey, and the object of his stern affections, the winsome Anastasia … Read More


When you add verbiage to a contract provision not to change its meaning but to make it more emphatic, you’re indulging in “rhetorical emphasis.” Contract prose is better off without rhetorical emphasis, as contracts don’t serve to persuade. I’ve mentioned rhetorical emphasis plenty over the years; go here for a listing of posts on the old AdamsDrafting blog that mention … Read More