I did a “legal brief” on the radio show last week on what I consider my unique approach to contract drafting. I think too many contracts are full of pages and pages of term that neither party really reads, understands, or negotiates. I think this happens because we lawyers always work off of a boilerplate template that has been passed down and adjusted over the eons. Eventually, some lawyers come to blindly trust the document without really analyzing whether all of that mumbo jumbo is important to the deal at hand.
Contract law is about binding people to terms that they knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily agreed to in order to receive valuable consideration from the other party. Having a long contract full of terms that neither party truly baragined for (or even understands!) is a waste of time, paper, and ink. Imagine looking over your rental car contract and telling the clerk: “I’d like to go ahead with renting this vehicle, but I have some trouble with your company’s indemnification clause in Section 14, clause 10. I’ll have my lawyer get you a revised draft on Monday . . .”
When I write a contract, I spend extra time and effort making sure I understand and accurately describe the key business terms of the deal. This makes my contracts much shorter than what you would usually see. However, my clients seem to really like them.