§ 40. If you don't understand a form provision--or don't understand why it should be included in your document--try diligently to gain that understanding. If you still can't understand it, cut it.
Decide whether you think the provisions described below have any real meaning. If you're part of a writing group or class, be prepared to defend your position.
Interview a lawyer who (1) has practiced transactional law for at least ten years, and (2) can recall a situation in which a provision relating to some other deal had meaninglessly crept into draft contracts where the provision didn't belong. Take specific notes on the interview. If you're part of a writing group or class, be prepared to report your findings.
Find a reported case in which a party has had to argue that a sentence or paragraph is essentially meaningless. Write a casenote. Decide whether you agree with the court's resolution of the issue. If you're part of a writing group or class, bring a copy of both the case and your casenote for each colleague.
© 2001, Bryan A. Garner
These exercises appear in Bryan A. Garner's Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text with Exercises, published by The University of Chicago Press and available at bookstores and on the Web at www.press.uchicago.edu.