Effective contract drafting and legal writing

in English

Practical and interactive online workshop. The trainer reviews and helps with drafting in breakout rooms.
Example outline below for a 12-hour course (six sessions of 2 hours each).
Can split into two courses or otherwise vary content and duration, to suit both career and English levels.
Small groups of up to 12 preferred, but please discuss higher numbers with us. 

Why choose this skills course?

This highly practical workshop will help you to draft and write clearly, effectively and confidently in English, whatever the governing law. It will improve your knowledge and use of legal language, and your grammar in a legal context.  In addition, you will practise drafting and writing with the benefit of trainer monitoring. 

What will you achieve by attending?

You will:

  • be able to spot common drafting issues, and be more aware of your own style and issues
  • start adopting guidelines for clear, succint drafting and legal writing
  • better understand, assess and amend precedent clauses 
  • be able to draft more effectively from scratch
  • revise and improve your grammar and legal English

What will we cover on contract drafting?

  • Problems that arise when English is not the first language, and when Common Law does not apply
  • Writing for the reader(s) and for your purpose
  • Structuring the contract, a clause (or article), a paragraph and a sentence
  • Getting to the point, signposting, and ‘if’-clauses, 
  • Ensuring completeness of content and language
  • Keeping drafting short and simple: including tenses, active/passive voice, syntax, and word choice
  • Dealing with provisos (provided that) and exceptions 
  • Avoiding over-cross referencing with subject to and notwithstanding
  • Recognising and avoiding ambiguity 
  • Choosing and using language of obligation and discretion: shall, will, must and may
  • Some comparisons between US and British English
  • Vocabulary for contracts (optional)

What will we cover on legal writing?

  • Writing for your reader and your purpose
  • Planning and structuring your document: getting to the point and ordering information logically
  • Keeping it short and simple, applying and adding to guidelines learnt so far, eg to legal letters
  • Comparing the English approach with that of law firms in the participants’ jurisdictions

What exercises will you do?

You will complete exercises throughout, to draw out best-practice guidelines and to practise drafting and writing with the benefit of trainer assistance and group feedback. Our context will be contracts, emails, letters or report extracts.

Exercises will include the following:

  • Analysing style and redrafting poorly drafted precedent clauses and legal letters/report extracts
  • Drafting contract clauses and writing a letter/part report, from scratch
  • Revising and improving grammar in a legal context, mainly remedially from feedback 
  • Revising and improving relevant legal language
  • Improving punctuation
  • Proofreading and spelling


Online method

Zoom (preferred) or similar platform
Work in pairs, threes, group and alone
Breakout rooms: trainer monitoring,
screen sharing and joint document annotating
Homework between sessions

Course materials

Guidelines with summary checklist for use in the office
Exercises, drafting analyses and suggested redrafts 


Stella Styllis or Alan Simmons