A clause in a contract draft has much in common with a legal brief — the purpose of each is persuasion. In a contract negotiation, the first task of each clause is to persuade the other side’s contract reviewer not to delete it or drastically mark up its language. Brevity is a cardinal virtue in legal briefs; it’s no different with contract clauses:
- Judges must read hundreds of legal briefs every year; likewise, contract reviewers must review hundreds of draft clauses.
- Judges overwhelmingly prefer brevity in in the briefs they read; we have no reason to think contract reviewers feel any differently about draft clauses.
If we were to take a poll of contract reviewers, I suspect most would prefer to read a contract that, while somewhat longer, was composed mostly of short clauses.
- Forget short contracts – focus instead on short clauses
- The Power of Brevity: Adopt Abraham Lincoln’s Habits, by law professor Julie Oseid (hat tip: Raymond Ward, The (new) legal writer).