Key Drafting Tip

Posted: July 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Reflections on Law Practice | No Comments »

I believe lawyers (and in the future, computers/whatever) should be able to write clear, simple agreements that have a cohesive thread running through them rather than simply reproducing antiquated, legalese-ridden forms that laypersons don’t understand. 

There is a secret to this which has served me well over the years, and which I’m about to impart – it’s all in the “Introduction”!

I can almost guarantee you that wherever a legal document contains an introductory paragraph that succinctly and cogently summarizes the agreement’s subject matter in five or six bullet points, you will hold in your hands a great agreement.  I have written a great many legal documents over the years, but the most effective, readable ones were absolutely those to which I devoted a great deal of effort in first identifying the key issues or transaction, and then summarizing and presenting them in a logical sequence at the beginning of the document.  Sometimes, that process would take me about a third of the entire drafting time, but it always proved invaluable, particularly in the case of unusual or complex transactions.  If you can’t summarize the issues, the reader is unlikely to understand them.

Go ahead; try it.  You won’t be disappointed.

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