Even before your pen hits the paper or your finger hits the key, it’s important to have an idea of how your document should be organized. In this latest post in our series on Drafting Clear, Concise Contracts, I’ve provided some important organizational principles that will make your contracts easier to read.

Principle #1: Lay out the big picture
Before you get into the nitty gritty, present the big picture to your reader. Details are difficult to understand without any context in which to interpret them. Think how hard it would be if someone handed a box of car parts and told you to build an engine without any blue print. Similarly, if you give the reader a list of complex details…

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In this latest installment in the Drafting Clear, Concise Contracts series, I’ll explain the importance of using personal pronouns in your contracts. Instead of referring to the other party to the contract (the “reader”) as “Company X” or “John Doe,” using “You” and “Your” will promote clarity, direction, conciseness, and avoid unnecessary abstractions in your contracts. Regardless of the sophistication of your reader, using personal pronouns will improve the readability of your contracts significantly.

Clarity
By referring to the reader as “You” you can clarify exactly what rights and obligations apply to the reader and what rights and obligations apply to you (the “drafter”). The easier it is to decipher what rights each party has and what obligations each party owes under the contract,…

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Some of the most valuable aspects of your business are the goodwill you’ve developed (including your customer relationships), and the intellectual property you’ve produced. A noncompete agreement can be instrumental in protecting these aspects of your business from a range of problems with departing employees, including the spread of trade secrets and other confidential information to competitors. Today’s post will detail the legal requirements for your noncompete to be enforceable, and the benefits of using a noncompete agreement in your business.

Painting the Picture
At some point during the life of your business, you will likely need to recruit, train, and rely on employees to help grow (or maintain) your business. You’ll have to trust your employees since they will likely have access…

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As my eyes glazed over while reading another section of a contract that began with “notwithstanding the foregoing” I realized it was time for a change. It was time to change the way I drafted contracts. It was time to eliminate unnecessary legal jargon and draft a contract that my client can read, understand, and (perhaps) even enjoy. I browsed through my archive of contracts and quickly spotted a dozen or so terms that needed to go (thereto, herein, set forth, and heretofore, just to name a few).

The idea here is not to “dumb down” the information contained in legal documents. Rather, the goal is to convey complex information in the clearest way so that your audience can understand it….

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