Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Legal drafting: three definitions

If I said I am going to teach a class on legal drafting, I might mean three different things:
  1. "Legal drafting" can mean the preparation of any written legal document--a motion, a letter, a brief, a memo, or a contract. Lawyers and law teachers use the phrase in this way all the time: "Draft a brief" or "draft a letter."

  2. "Legal drafting" can mean the task of preparing a transaction, which includes a lot more than putting words on paper. It includes the substance of the underlying law, strategies for representing a client in a transaction, the skill of negotiation, and the ability to close a transaction.

  3. "Legal drafting" can mean the writing of binding legal text. It is the skill of putting words on paper to create rights and duties.
I use the phrase "legal drafting" only in the third sense. For the meaning in number 1, I say "legal writing." For the meaning in number 2, I say "transactions."

Teaching legal drafting as I conceive it is not as simple as it sounds. I've been teaching it for 10 years, and I cover a lot of things that are strictly putting words on paper. I'll list them tomorrow.

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