Take Care: Headings Can Affect Contract Interpretation

As a general practice, section headings should be used to identify the general subject matter of each contract provision, making it easier for the reader. Section headings are very useful for ease of reference. They enable the reader to skim an agreement when searching for a particular provision or group of provisions. But headings can be a trap for the unwary—courts have used them to interpret the parties’ intent when a provision is ambiguous or misleading. Here’s how to protect yourself from the unintended consequences of headings. Continue reading

How to Provide for Extending a Contract Term

agreement includes extension provisionMany contracts that have a fixed term provide for extending or renewing that term. Before you draft an extension clause, consider the common issues involved and review our sample language. Continue reading

Know These Interpretation Principles Before You Draft a Contract

contract document drafted by attorney with interpretation principles in mindWhen a contract dispute arises, there may be differing interpretations of the contract terms. A court asked to construe the disputed terms will look to statutory principles. But don’t wait for a dispute to learn these principles—be aware of them when drafting an agreement to ensure that they won’t counteract your client’s intent.  Continue reading

How to Write Effectively

When drafting any document—from a contract to a research memo—always remember: Effective documents are written in a way that the reader can easily read and understand. Here are eight techniques to make your writing as clear, and thus as effective, as possible. Continue reading

Oh, What a Difference Plain English Makes!

Any document you draft—from an email to a settlement agreement—should be written in plain, understandable language. But many attorneys still fall into the trap of using stilted, legalistic language, particularly in contracts and other transactional documents. Compare the following purchase agreement recitals and see what a difference plain English makes. Continue reading

This Is How to Count the Days in a Contract

Computing the time for performing an act under a contract may not be as straightforward as it seems—and miscalculating can have dire effects. Learn these rules on counting the days and, better yet, include a provision in the contract on how it’s to be done so that everyone can count on it. Continue reading

3 Keys to Structuring a Contract

Before you draft any of the provisions, you need to consider how you will structure the contract. In a nutshell, think about what to include, how to organize it, and ease of reading. Continue reading

How to Keep Contracts Out of Court (Part 2)

The key to keeping contracts out of the courtroom is drafting them well and making sure that they accurately capture the parties’ intent. In Part 1 of this post, we discussed five common contract drafting mistakes and how to avoid them. Here are five more. Continue reading

How to Keep Contracts Out of Court (Part 1)

The only contracts that see the inside of a courtroom are those that are poorly drafted or don’t accurately capture the parties’ intent. Here are five contract drafting mistakes and how to avoid them. Continue reading

Don’t Get Tripped Up on Contract Cross-References

When drafting a contract, it’s often necessary and useful to use cross-references to another part of the contract or a related document. This cuts down on redundancy and helps with consistency. But imprecise or problematic cross-references can make a mess of things. Here are some tips for handling internal and external cross-references. Continue reading