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The problem with drafting contracts

How can successful lawyers and law students draft contracts effectively in English?

Drafting Contracts in Legal English

by Michael Davies

When it comes to working with business contracts, legal English students will find that things are never simple. The language of contracts can appear odd and confusing to laymen and lawyers alike. As a result, the process of drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts takes longer and costs the client more than it should. The odd use of language and words that are misinterpreted can leave companies open to legal action if there is confusion.

When you work at a law firm, you will realise that contracts follow particular templates and that no lawyer will ever draft a contract from scratch. For example, an employment law contract for one executive will be much the same as another employment contract, give or take a few zeroes.

This lack of creativity means that contracts have remained the same for generations. If you take a cursory glance at any commercial contract, the language used will often be archaic and confusing despite the valiant efforts of organisations such as Legal English Language Training to improve the writing skills of lawyers.

What can be done?

While you should respect the general clauses of a contract, make it your priority as an active lawyer to break with the archaic language of the past. Do not merely copy and paste from those contracts that are already on file, but seek your own way forward with forceful and impactful language that leaves no room for misinterpretation.

Michael Davies is an instructor at Legal English Language Training. For more on how to draft contracts, take a course with us.

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