I get a surprising number of requests from people wanting to know good resources to learn about how to review and draft contracts.
I’ve found a great new book that I will consistently be recommending. It’s by Kenneth A. Adams and it’s called “A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting.”
From the back cover:
“The focus of this manual is not what provisions to include in a given contract, but instead how to express those provisions in prose that is free of the problems that often afflict contracts. This manual highlights common sources of inefficiency, dispute, and misunderstanding and recommends how to avoid them. It offers a level of practical detail not found elsewhere in the literature on drafting.”
That sums it up nicely. For example, there is a whole chapter on “vagueness,” that covers the common problems and shows great ways to clear up the problems and make contracts easy to understand.
I must confess that I ended up reading it from cover to cover in one sitting and got a lot of great ideas. In my defense, however, I did have the book on my “to read” shelf for a while before I worked up the nerve to get started on it. Even if you have to put it in a plain brown wrapper to hide from your friends, you will want to read this book if you play any role, as a lawyer or not, in drafting and reviewing contracts.
If enough people read this book and follow its principles and examples, we’ll all have an easier time dealing with contracts.
I’ll give you three choices for learning more about the book and purchasing it.
First, you can go to Ken’s website to learn more about Ken and the book.
Second, you can go directly to the ABA Web Store to purchase the book. The current special holiday sale price is $35.95 (a bargain, especially considering the prices of most books for lawyers) and this link should take you directly to the book’s order page.
Third, you can buy the book through Amazon through my affiliate link and currently find a $29.97 price and earn me a small commission. The downside of this approach is there appears to be a 3 to 5 week delay in shipping the book from Amazon. The upside is that you can, at the same time, buy Ken’s other highly-regarded book, Legal Usage in Drafting Corporate Agreements.
I’ll let you decide the approach you want to take, but the decision to buy the book is an easy one.
While you’re at the ABA Web Store, be sure to take a close look at the following:
1. For a great set of forms for IT, e-commerce and related agreements (with usable forms on CD – highly recommended), consider The E-Business Legal Arsenal with Forms.
2. David Masters – The Lawyer’s Guide to Adobe Acrobat.
3. Tom Grella and Michael Hudkins – The Lawyer’s Guide to Strategic Planning: Defining, Setting, and Achieving Your Firm’s Goals.
Note that a 10% discount is available for books 2 and 3 if you are a member of the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section. If you aren’t a member, well, darn it, you should be and this discount might be just the motivator you need.