Schiess’s biggest pet peeves: legal drafting

Here are my biggest pet peeves in legal drafting—primarily contracts and statutes. I’ve already posted my list for analytical writing here. This isn’t a list of the biggest problems in legal drafting, just the ones that bug me.

Sentence length

  • Sometimes sentences in a contract run to hundreds of words in length. A former student sent me a change-of-control provision that was a single sentence of 379 words.


  • Huh?

Archaic words that are not terms of art.

  • whereas, herein, said


  • It’s not just the word you use whenever you feel the sense should be “mandatory.”

Doubling text and numerals

  • This practice has annoyed me for nine (9) years.

Unnecessary or redundant word strings

  • right, title, and interest
  • transfer, convey, and set over

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