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Welcome to the 21st Century. Where practicing law requires us to don the garb of computers and the Internet. And where litigation is as costly as ever. Lawyer bills running $10,000 a month are not unusual in a hotly contested breach of contract lawsuit. With every word, phrase and sentence carrying the potential for winning or losing, the stakes are high. Simple logic, therefore, directs us to cautious and thoughtful drafting.  


Drafting contracts is actually one of the simple pleasures of practicing law. Just 3 years ago at this Convention I presented 50 tips for contract writing. This article updates those tips in the context of our new tools and abilities. Following these tips could result in your writing a contract so clear no one will want to litigate it, saving your client from the trials and tribulations of litigation, truly a good reason to write the contract that stays out of court.  


These tips apply to writing all kinds of agreements: office leases, real estate contracts, sales agreements, employment contracts, equipment leases, prenuptial agreements. They even apply to stipulations and settlements in litigation, where you want an agreement so clear that it avoids future litigation. Wherever clarity and simplicity are important, these tips will guide you there. The Appendix provides a few sample forms to illustrate these tips.  

这些招数适用于各种合同,比如,办公租赁合同、不动产合同、买卖合同、劳动合同、设备租赁合同、婚前协议。同样,如果你不想让你在诉讼中所起草的和解条款与协议再起争议的话,也可以参考一下这些招数。另外,通过了解这些招数,你就会明白,起草合同,清晰、的简明是多么地重要。本文的附录提供了一些简单的法律文书范本,这将有助于你理解这些招数。Before You Write the First Word第一部分:在动笔之前

1、Ask your client to list the deal points. This can be in the form of a list, outline or narration. Doing this will help the client focus on the terms of the agreement

.1、要求你的客户列出合同交易的要点,也可以说是合同的清单、目录或概述。这一招首先帮助你的客户弄清合同的重点所在。2.、Engage your client in "what if" scenarios. A good contract will anticipate many possible factual situations and express the parties' understanding in case those facts arise. Talking to your client about this will generate many issues you may not otherwise consider.


3、Ask your client for a similar contract. Frequently, clients have had similar transactions in the past or they have access to contracts for similar transactions.


4、Search your office computer or the Internet for a similar form. Many times you can find a similar form on your computer. It may be one you prepared for another client or one you negotiated with another lawyer. Just remember to find and replace the old client's name. Starting with an existing form saves time and avoids the errors of typing. Here are some Web sites where you can find forms:


5、Obtain forms in books or CD-ROM. Typical forms of contracts can be found in form books, such as West's Legal Forms (a nationwide set) and Florida Jur Forms, as well as in treatises and Florida Bar CLE publications. These can be used as the starting point for drafting the contract or as checklists of typical provisions and wording to include in the contract. Many treatises and form books now come with forms on disk or CD-ROM.


6、Don't let your client sign a letter of intent without this wording. Sometimes clients are anxious to sign something to show good faith before the contract is prepared. A properly worded letter of intent is useful at such times. Just be sure that the letter of intent clearly states that it is not a contract, but that it is merely an outline of possible terms for discussion purposes. See Appendix C.

6、如果没有特别申明,不要让你的客户在意向书上签字。有时候,在合同未准备好之前,客户为了表示诚意,往往急于签署某些东西,当然,在这种情况下,如果客户急于签署的是有特别申明的意向书,这也是可以的,但一定要注明:本意向书并非合同,只是双方为了更好地沟通协商,而拟定的对未来条款的概述。类似意向书的范例见附录C。Writing that First Word

第二部分:开始起草合同7、Start with a simple, generic contract form. The form in Appendix A is such a form. It provides a solid starting point for the structure of the contract. Like a house, a contract must have a good, solid foundation.


8、State the correct legal names of the parties in the first paragraph. As obvious as this is, it is one of the most common problems in contracts. For individuals, include full first and last name, and middle initials if available, and other identifying information, if appropriate, such as Jr., M.D., etc. For corporations, check with the Secretary of State where incorporated.


9、Identify the parties by nicknames. Giving each party a nickname in the first paragraph will make the contract easier to read. For example, James W. Martin would be nicknamed "Martin."


10、Be careful when using legal terms for nicknames. Do not use "Contractor" as a nickname unless that party is legally a contractor. Do not use "Agent" unless you intend for that party to be an agent, and if you do, then you better specify the scope of authority and other agency issues to avoid future disagreements.


11、Include a blank for the date in the first paragraph. Putting the date in the first paragraph makes it easy to find after the contract is signed. It also makes it easy to describe the contract in other documents in a precise way, such as the "December 20, 2000, Contract for Sale of Real Estate."


12.、Include to provide background. Recitals are the "whereas" clauses that precede the body of a contract. They provide a simple way to bring the contract's reader (party, judge or jury) up to speed on what the contract is about, who the parties are, why they are signing a contract, etc. The first paragraph in the body of the contract can incorporate the recitals by reference and state that they are true and correct. This will avoid a later argument as to whether or not the recitals are a legally binding part of the contract.


13、Outline the contract by writing out and underlining paragraph headings in their logical order. The paragraphs should flow in logical, organized fashion. It is not necessary to write them all at once; you can write them as you think of them. Try to group related concepts in the same paragraphs or in adjacent paragraphs. For example, write an employment contract's initial paragraph headings like this:Recitals.Employment.Duties.Term.Compensation.


14、Complete each paragraph by writing the contract terms that apply to that paragraph. This is simple. You learned this in elementary school. Just explain in words what the parties agree to do or not do paragraph by paragraph.


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