Contracts are the foundation of all working relationships. Making them universally clear is essential to getting everyone on the same page. At Capshaw & Associates, we’ve seen plenty of good business relationships turn sour. Often, that rift could have been avoided or resolved through a clear contract – but the one they had came up short.
Writing a good contract requires a lot more than just copying and pasting. Here are our 6 tips for writing stronger contracts:
Keep It Clear
The ultimate goal of a contract is to get all parties on the exact same page and filled in on everything they need to know. Accordingly, a contract is not the best place to strive for eloquence or try to sound professional. A good contract is written in everyday English, not “legalese,” so that anyone reading it can easily understand it. Your sentences should be short and plain. A good contract doesn’t confuse or trick either party into doing anything. It simply explains what the expectations are so everyone can agree to them.
Use Consistent Language
Another way to make your contracts easily readable is to keep them consistent. Don’t change what terms you are using to refer to the parties involved or the work they are doing. You also want to be careful using words like “shall,” “will,” and “may.” They all mean different things. Saying someone “shall work overtime” is significantly different from saying they “may work overtime.”
Formatting your contract into short sections and subsections makes it easier to read. It is also very helpful when someone is checking their contract to find one specific detail. Like the words you use, make sure your format is consistent throughout the entire document.
Avoid Using Gendered Pronouns
Referring to the parties involved in your contract with gendered pronouns can be confusing and distracting to readers. Keeping them generic does a better job of future-proofing your writing. For instance, saying “The contractor will be paid for his work” sets a strange precedent about the gender of contractors you are willing to work with. Instead, write “The contractor will be paid for their work.”
Use Oxford Comma
Yes, the Oxford Comma is silly and pretentious. However, if a dispute ends in your contract being read in court, having Oxford Commas makes a big difference to lawyers. To them, writing “red, white, and blue” means something very different than “red, white and blue.”
Ask For Help
At Capshaw & Associates, a lifetime of handling disputes in the courtroom means that we know which contracts are solid and which ones need more work. Don’t send out (or sign) a contract without knowing if it will hold up in court. For help with contracts or disputes, contact Capshaw & Associates today! We believe in offering quality legal services at a fair price.