In a couple of weeks I’ll be in Geneva for my intime public “Drafting Clearer Contracts” seminars. For more information, go here. My wife and I lived in Geneva for three years in the 1990s, my daughter was born there, and my brother lives there, so I always enjoy visiting Geneva.
I’ve given perhaps a dozen seminars in Geneva to around 200 participants in total. One thing has nagged at me: only one of those participants was from a Swiss law firm. And no one from a Swiss law firm attended my one public seminar in Zurich.
By itself, that shouldn’t be surprising. After all, U.S. BigLaw has long been mostly immune to the charms of my public seminars. For example, participants at my recent New York seminar for Thomson Reuters included people from a big Canadian law firm and smaller U.S. law firms, but no one from BigLaw. Various factors might account for this:
- Law firms that subscribe to a given CLE vendor might not be inclined to go outside that vendor.
- Associates might be reluctant to lose valuable billable hours by spending a day outside the office.
- Associates might be focused on giving the partners whatever they want instead of developing their skills.
- Law firms might think they can handle in-house their training in contract drafting, although whatever they offer is unlikely to resemble my seminars.
- Copy-and-pasting dysfunctional traditional language has been profitable for BigLaw, so perhaps they have little incentive to pay good money to listen to someone agitating for change.
Some combination of those factors might apply equally to Swiss law firms.
But Swiss lawyers working with traditional English-language contracts are working in a second language. If English is your second language, the traditional prose of contracts is likely to seem that much more obscure, and on matters of wording you’re more likely to defer to whatever native-English-speaker lawyers you find yourself working with. My seminars offer a comprehensive antidote to that, so I’m confident that lawyers at Swiss law firms would find a “Drafting Clearer Contracts” seminar worthwhile.