Why My Seminar Isn’t Called “The Basics of Contract Drafting”

The ineffable A. Wright Burke, M. Phil., asked me today why I don’t offer gradations of “Drafting Clearer Contracts.” “Introduction to.” “Intermediary.” “Ninja.” And so on.

He posed his question with the best of intentions, so he probably didn’t expect me to start scowling and gnashing my teeth.

Contract drafting isn’t like learning macramé, where you can start with a bracelet and work up to a bedspread. (What the heck is macramé, anyway?) Or like learning French, where you start by practicing on a sneering waiter, with the aim of building up to debating existentialism at Les Deux Magots.

Instead, once you start drafting contracts, you’re immediately at warp speed. The building blocks are the same, whether you’re dealing with a generic confidentiality agreement or a hulking merger agreement. Sure, the deal complexity is vastly different, but that’s a function of what you say in a contract; the stuff of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting is how you say it.

So contact drafting isn’t amenable to incrementalism. No “Basics of Contract Drafting” and “Advanced Contract Drafting” for me.

And while I’m at it, no “Nuts and Bolts of Contract Drafting”—the “nuts and bolts” thing is perhaps a bit tired by now. And no “Secrets of Contract Drafting.” If there are any secrets, someone’s very good at keeping them, because I sure don’t know of any.

I suppose I could do “Son of Drafting Clearer Contracts,” or some such. But the whole point of the seminar is that it’s an introduction to the approach reflected in MSCD. After you’ve had the introduction, you don’t need yet another introduction; your best bet is to turn to the book.

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.