Clear language and respect
by: Seth Godin
Our connection economy thrives when people understand what to expect from one another. We’re more likely than ever to engage in interactions that involve an exchange, something that deserves a specific clarification. I’ll do this and you’ll do that.
More and more agreements are being made, because more and more transactions happen outside or between organizations. The question then: What does good drafting look like?
If the agreement starts with “whereas” and continues along with, “notwithstanding the foregoing,” and when it must be decoded by a lawyer on the other side, something has gone wrong. These code words, and the dense language that frequently appears in legal agreements, are symptoms of a system out of whack. It’s possible to be precise without being obtuse.
There’s actually no legal requirement that an agreement not be in specific, clear, everyday English. To do otherwise disrespects the person you’re hoping to engage with. There’s no legal requirement that even the terms of service for a website can’t be clear and easy to understand. In fact, if the goal is to avoid confusion and the costs of the legal system when conflicts occur, the more clear, the better.
Consider this clause, which can change everything: “Any disagreements over the interpretation of this agreement will be resolved through binding, informal arbitration. Both of us agree to hire a non-involved attorney, submit up to five pages of material to state our case, and abide by her decision.”continue reading »