The year 2020 has brought contracts to forefront of the legal community in a very important way! Collectively, we #contractnerds have raised more awareness about the importance of drafting clearer contracts, negotiating better contracts, and managing contracts better with technology.
What I hope the year 2021 will do for contracts is even MORE. Let’s start by committing to holding ourselves accountable for these 10 New Year’s Resolutions for All Contract Nerds.
This year, I resolve to:
1. Attend at least one contracts-related webinar or CLE per month.
Are you the kind of person who intends to join these types of events, but can never find them or find the time to search for them? Just subscribe to our weekly newsletter and we’ll let you know!
2. Identify one action item from each webinar or CLE and apply it to my practice that month.
Learning is wonderful, but applying our learnings is even better. I noticed that when I try to do too much with one webinar, I end up doing nothing. Pick one thing, and incorporate that into your practice. Don’t be afraid to try something new or unique. The only way to know if something will work, is to give it a try.
3. Draft Clearer Contracts.
Yes, I’ve turned the name of Ken Adams’ masterclass on contract drafting into a resolution! Why? Because there is no better way to say it. We should all be striving to draft clearer contracts every single day, without exception.
4. Study the art of negotiation to optimize deal terms and strengthen counterparty relations.
There are two main skills that every contract expert should master: contract drafting and contract negotiation. The contract negotiation part is my personal favorite. With a background in psychology, I have always been drawn to the difficult task of trying to figure people (and even myself) out. Listening to skills-based podcasts, like Negotiate Anything by Kwame Christian, is an excellent way to learn more about the foundational art of negotiation.
5. Apply the rules of Contract Redlining Etiquette™ to my contract negotiations, even (and especially when) I’m in a rush.
Because let’s be real, when are we not in a rush? Contract Redlining Etiquette™ is a set of 10 modern contract negotiation rules that promote efficiency and professionalism. Rules 1 through 4 have already been published. Stay tuned for the rest!
6. Refresh my templates to eliminate the use of unnecessary legalese.
Like Colin Levy says, “Life is too short to be consumed by words like hereby, whereto, herein, and thereto.” Plain language is the way to go! We should be updating our template library every six months and there’s no time like the beginning of a new year to level set.
7. Advocate for the modernization of my team’s contract management process.
Process inefficiencies can waste time, cause contract leakage, and create legal and compliance risks. As contract experts, we have the unique perspective of knowing where the obstacles lie in our respective contract management processes. That’s why it is vital that we champion change across our in-house legal departments by starting with modernization of the contract management process. Volunteer to put a list of contract lifecycle management (CLM) vendors together, view a few demos, or map out your team’s contract management process.
8. Find more meaningful ways to connect with my internal clients.
Sure, we all have Zoom fatigue by now. But that doesn’t mean we should just abandon the idea of connecting with our peers altogether. Especially the very people that we are hired to serve. I admit that I’m guilty of communication burnout, but now is the perfect time to reset!
9. Look ahead at the risks and benefits of a post-COVID world.
Optimism is my power word of the year! We have focused a ton on managing the actual and likely failure of contracts. With this new year, it is time to start planning for the re-birth of services, activities and events. From a customer standpoint, service providers and vendors may start raising prices as demand increases so it may be time to lock in some favorable terms. Attorneys representing service providers or vendors should be collaborating with HR, supply chain and procurement departments to plan ahead for supply vs. demand changes.
10. Participate more in our growing online community of contract experts and in-house counsel.
In 2020, we saw a surge of legal content creators on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram. Our most creative attorneys are finding ways to connect with the community via TikTok! Even if you don’t want to be a content creator, you can be a content engager by simply liking, sharing and commenting on posts. Together, we can grow our community and support our law students and new attorneys who strive to be #contractnerds.
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Follow along on LinkedIn for daily conversations about these resolutions and more related topics with fellow Contract Nerds. You can also subscribe to the weekly Contract Nerds newsletter for community updates, upcoming events, and weekly blog posts.
Author: Nada Alnajafi, Esq.