“If They’ve Been Promoted, Why Should They Still Be Writing Contracts?”

Consider the following quotation:

“We see partners who are doing the same work they did as associates,” he says. “If they’ve been promoted, why should they still be writing contracts?”

It’s from this article in Corporate Counsel about how law departments are increasingly requiring outside counsel to implement technology. It was uttered by the director of information systems for Microsoft’s law and corporate affairs department, in connection with how Microsoft uses e-billing to determine who’s doing what work at its outside counsel.

I understand the point: no company wants to pay a steep hourly rate for the dubious privilege of having a partner scissor-and-paste together a contract.

On the other hand, one could conclude from the quotation that drafting contracts is a rudimentary undertaking that can safely be left to associates. That brings to mind a scary vision of largely clueless associates hacking at forms of questionable quality and relevance.

The solution isn’t to have partners more involved. Instead, associates should be less involved: drafting should be commoditized.

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.