Every year, I write an article outlining some new year’s resolutions for contracts professionals to help us do our jobs better and have fun in the process. In last year’s article, I outlined 10 resolutions because I was anxious to hit the ground running after all the setbacks in 2020. This year, I have reduced the number of resolutions down to just five because I plan on focusing my time on fewer objectives. Quality over quantity. Will you join me?
This year, I resolve to:
1. Attend one contracts-related CLE, webinar, or event per month.
Learning and self-improvement are crucial aspects of being a successful contracts professional because we are faced with change on a regular basis. We are expected to be contracts experts, well-versed in the goods or services we are contracting for, and savvy users of whichever contract management system (or lack thereof) that our organization provides. Whether you are new to contracts or more experienced, there’s a lot to continually learn!
Law firms rarely present on contracts because that’s not where they make their money. For a long time, our community was left to fend for ourselves and self-study in order to improve our contracting skills. Luckily, our industry is getting better at offering quality CLEs, webinars, and events about contracts.
Now, contracts experts and legal content creators are joining forces with one another and hosting their own events so they can share their expertise with our community. The How to Contract Conference hosted by Laura Frederick is a perfect example. (Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and I’ll send you a 20% off promo code.) These events are thorough, creative, informative, and usually not intended as a sales pitch. Plus, many of them are free!
Our weekly Contract Nerds newsletter provides a list of upcoming free events about contracts.
2. Speak at one contracts-related CLE, webinar, or event per quarter.
For experienced contracts professionals, one of the best ways you can give back to our community and create real change is by teaching. We need more passionate teachers who are willing to dedicate their valuable time to help students of contracts learn. I know this is not an easy task. It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to speak at an event, especially if you’re doing it in addition to your day job.
A good presentation will require an engaging Power Point deck, updated and accurate information, an organized and clear way of communicating the learning points, good quality recording devices, and a few hours of preparation and rehearsal time. But the rewarding feeling of teaching someone who wants to learn more about contracts is priceless and totally worth it. Plus, once you’ve done a couple, your prep time will reduce and it will become easier to fit into your schedule.
I have spent the past year writing my book on Contract Redlining Etiquette, updating the Contract Nerds website, and planning cool things for 2022. Now, I am geared up to start speaking at events again. I already have these events lined up:
How to manage the contract negotiation process, for the How to Contract Conference on January 14, 2022 (Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and I’ll send you a 20% off promo code.)
How to leverage the power of redlines to speed up contract negotiations, for In-House Connect on March 23, 2022
If you are reading this and thinking that it would be great to partner together on an event about contracts, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn to chat about it.
3. Leverage the power of redlines in contract negotiations.
A recent study by the WorldCC found that 60% of all contracts are negotiated. In addition, a higher-than-average amount of resources were expended on low and mid-complexity agreements. Another study by the WorldCC found that contracts are taking longer to negotiate than ever due to post-pandemic changes and limitations in the way we communicate with one another.
While technology is certainly a solution to faster contracting, it is not the whole enchilada. We, as contracts professionals, are still largely responsible for redlining and negotiating contracts. In particular, our expertise is needed in the more complex, higher value, and multi-layered deals. So what can we do to speed up our contract negotiations?
We can leverage the power of redlines to drive contract negotiations forward. If you’re like me, then you probably learned how to redline contracts on-the-job. Not in school, not in a training program, and not from a mentor. Until now, there was no uniform approach to redlining. In my book, Contract Redlining Etiquette, I write about 10 practical rules of redlining that any contracts professional can use to immediately improve the way you negotiate contracts.
4. Be more active on social media.
One of the exciting predictions about our industry is that more lawyers will appear on social media and write blogs. More content means more potential opportunities for interaction. You don’t have to be a content creator to check this box.
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.
I didn’t post on or engage with social media as much as I wanted to this past year because I was either pregnant, on maternity leave, or writing my book. This coming year, I want to post more frequently and comment on other people’s post more often. Not just because I want to gain followers, but because I learn a lot from reading other people’s posts on social media (particularly LinkedIn).
5. Watch at least three new legal tech demos per quarter.
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, procurement, and contracting departments. Volunteer to put a list of contract management system vendors together, view a few demos, or map out your team’s contract management process.
I’ve been hesitant to sign-up for demos if I’m not actively involved in the vendor selection process. Even if you are not currently on the market for a new contracting system, or maybe you’re not the decision maker at your company, it is still a good idea to watch demos. By seeing what legal tech products can do, you are arming yourself with knowledge and staying in touch with the industry. You never know when your team might land a healthy budget, or what position you might promote into next. Always keep your eye out for ways to improve the way you and your team contract.
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Nada Alnajafi is the Founder of Contract Nerds, Author of Contract Redlining Etiquette, and a seasoned in-house attorney. She is a contracts expert with 15+ years working in-house counsel for companies of all sizes and across various industries.