February 19, 2014
Raymond Ward: On Client-Centered Writing. And Vampires.
The Net, unfortunately, is mainly about what's trendy and hot. Most blog posts, like old newspapers, are dated within 24 hours of publication. But a few have an enduring, evergreen quality. Do take a look at this post by Adams and Reese's Raymond Ward called "The Vampires of Legal Writing" at his the (new) legal writer. Ray notes that over-reliance on legal forms and other stock language "tends to perpetuate bad legal writing."
The problem really isn’t with forms themselves. A good set of forms, properly used, can save time and serve as helpful guides. The problems arise with what contract-drafting guru Ken Adams calls “uncritical regurgitation”—the slavish adherence to poor or obsolete forms. Here are some tips for reaping the benefits of forms while avoiding the problems that over-reliance on them can cause.
Read Ray's four tips in his post. And we would emphasize that forms, even when they are not obsolete, can cause nightmares via their boilerplate alone. In both transactional work and litigation (especially discovery), lawyers often rely on and use stock provisions and language that are either inappropriate or just plain wrong for the matter at hand. Forms are a doorway to stale thinking and even non-thinking. In fact, they can be dangerous. If you're in doubt about the form you are using, don't use it. Toss it--and just rely on your brain.
Posted by Holden Oliver (Kitzbühel Desk) at February 19, 2014 12:59 AM