Ben is a writing and contract drafting consultant. He studied English and Law at Magdalene College, Cambridge, before joining Freshfields (now Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) in 1979. Ben was a partner in the firm between 1987 and 2002, and led an initiative to promote clearer writing and drafting throughout the firm.
Ben now advises law firms and other business organisations on the principles of clear writing and effective contract drafting, and also lectures at universities. He has recently published his first book, a short guide for lawyers entitled ‘Faultless Grammar’.
The course consists of nine core modules with associated reading materials.
Utilised and adapted from Ben’s consultancy work, this course covers the full breadth of drafting best practice. Contracts have to be clearly structured at an overall level, clear at the level of each clause or paragraph and clear at the level of detailed language.
Each module will be accompanied by an educational and instructional video, additional reading materials and short quizzes to conclude and evaluate your knowledge on the teachings. The modules must be taken in the order that is listed below and all nine modules must be completed to receive the certificate at the end of the course.
First level modules 1-3; Clear contracts at an overall level
First Level Modules 1 – 3: Clear contracts at an overall level. MODULE 1 A contract should not leave any ‘what if’ questions up in the air. If it does, the drafter has left room for disputes. Since as lawyers we are not clairvoyants, how can we guard against missing something important? Module length: 40 mins […]
First Level Modules 1 – 3: Clear contracts at an overall level. MODULE 2 This module looks at how best to make it clear how the contract fits together. What is the best way to make it clear what provisions prevail over others? Do you need to record the commercial background? Module length: 24 mins | Readings: 11 […]
First Level Modules 1 – 3: Clear contracts at an overall level. MODULE 3 A contract needs to be easy to navigate. What should come first, and what relegated to a schedule? This module also covers particular issues arising when basing contracts on industry standard forms or other precedents, and drafting multi-agreement deals. Module length: 26 mins […]
Second level modules 4-5; Clear clauses and paragraphs
Second Level Modules 4 – 5: Clear clauses and paragraphs. MODULE 4 At this level, the drafter needs to draft sympathetically for a reader. This module looks at what readers need to be able to readily absorb contract meaning, and what frustrates them. It also looks at the benefits and risks of relying on definitions. disputes. Since […]
Second Level Modules 4 – 5: Clear clauses and paragraphs. MODULE 5 Not only does each clause need to mesh together with other clauses, but it needs itself to be internally coherent. This module discusses how to order clauses ( including conditional clauses) to help the reader, and how to amend existing drafting without causing […]
Third level modules 6-9; Clear language at a detailed level
Third Level Modules 6 – 9: Clear language at a detailed level. MODULE 6 This module looks at the way the English language lays ambiguity traps for drafters who are not alert to modes of expression that lead to recurrent patterns of dispute. Module length: 23 mins | Readings: 8 MODULE 1 MODULE 2 MODULE 3 MODULE 4 […]
Third Level Modules 6 – 9: Clear language at a detailed level. MODULE 7 Contract disputes can arise from a single word. This module discusses how far you should rely on language familiar from other contracts, and the contrasting risks of choosing a word that is too vague or too emphatic. Module length: 25 mins | Readings: 9 […]
Third Level Modules 6 – 9: Clear language at a detailed level. MODULE 8 Small things matter: this module discusses the ambiguities that surround even words as simple as ‘and’ and ‘or’, especially in a negative context. Module length: 17 mins | Readings: 4 MODULE 1 MODULE 2 MODULE 3 MODULE 4 MODULE 5 MODULE 6 MODULE 7 […]
Third Level Modules 6 – 9: Clear language at a detailed level. MODULE 9 Lawyers often use lists to try and be sure a concept is comprehensively dealt with: this module looks at how best to be sure you have covered everything you need to. It also looks at the pitfalls that arise if not enough […]
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“Drafting contracts is central to lawyers’ work. Clients want contracts to be clear, relevant and easy to use.”
The Lawyer’s Drafting Contracts course has been designed to reinforce best-practice drafting, allowing lawyers to become more efficient, confident drafters and helping to manage reputational and client risk.
Delivered by a former partner at a Magic Circle ﬁrm, Drafting Contracts brings associates and in-house legal teams a flexible and effective way of testing and enhancing their existing skills. Through nine instructional videos and comprehensive reference materials, this course covers the finer points of contract drafting.
Who should take the course?
The course is designed for both in-house and private practice lawyers who are at an Associate level of experience. Junior lawyers and more senior associates will also find the course materials a useful point of reference.