Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Legal drafting: I teach putting words on paper

I teach legal drafting, but I do not teach how to negotiate a transaction, how to close a transaction, how to plan and carry out a transaction, or how to incorporate the substantive legal requirements of a doctrinal body of law into a transaction.

So what do I actually teach? I teach how to put words on paper to create binding legal text that is well written and clear according to modern, professional standards of legal drafting. I teach these things:
  • What ambiguity is and how to avoid it.
  • What vagueness is and how it is used appropriately.
  • The various words and phrases that create authority, obligation, entitlement, or discretion and how to use them consistently and correctly.
  • The canons of construction and how to draft for them.
  • Document design and layout.
  • Organizing the main topics in a contract.
  • Organizing the specific provisions within the topics of a contract.
  • Correct, modern rules of grammar and punctuation relevant to legal drafting.
  • The principles and practices of the plain-English movement in legal drafting.
  • Proper use of form documents.
  • Proper drafting of definitions.
  • Spotting and avoiding unnecessary formalisms, archaisms, and legalisms.
  • Employing an appropriate numbering and heading system in a drafted document.
  • Proper opening and closing language in a drafted document.
I usually throw in a few other lectures, on writing letters and on knowing and consulting the very best sources in the field of legal drafting. It makes for a good course, and when my students finish, they often know more about the mechanics of legal drafting than the majority of practicing lawyers.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home