Why don’t law firms don’t make more use of automated-template systems for drafting contracts? I suspect that lawyers’ psychological need for defensive lawyering is right up there with the factors listed in Ken Adams’s blog posting.
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Defensive lawyering is a powerful incentive to custom wordsmithing
Lawyers want to do a good job for their clients for its own sake, of course. But they also want to avoid loss of reputation and malpractice claims.
This is a big psychological incentive for defensive lawyering — and I strongly suspect that, in many a lawyer’s mind, no contract template can do as good a job of protecting the lawyer as a document that the lawyer himself has wordsmithed.
Add to that, the economic incentive of hourly billing.
You now have two powerful incentives in favor of custom wordsmithing over document-assembly projects.
The psychology is different when trade associations’ standard forms are available
Commenter Meade Ali points out that in the financial-services industry, lawyers make extensive use of standard contract forms developed by industry associations such as ISDA, SIFMA, and NAESB.
I think the psychological analysis is different here. I suspect that lawyers feel less vulnerable to being criticized when they’re using a form that the client’s own industry group has prepared, reviewed, and encouraged for use.