One of the many positives to being a small law firm is the close interaction between the litigation and non-litigation sides of the firm. We meet together on a regular basis to discuss files from both perspectives (how to avoid litigation and what strategy to pursue when litigation becomes inevitable). We also talk about avoiding disputes from the very beginning of a commercial relationship – this usually means getting the documentation right.

When we draft documentation for a client, we try to find out as much as we can about the way they do business; or more exactly, we find out about the way they want to do business and then we try to make sure that its completely compliant with the statutory framework under which the client operates, and any applicable case law. When possible, we try to approach the process holistically, and address as much of the business relationship as possible. We consider client solicitation, customer intake, the review of documents, imbalances in bargaining power, the need to retain specialized counsel on both sides of a transaction, the execution of the documents, the clarity of the documents, the term and termination of the agreement and what rights the parties have after the life of the document has ended.

When we talk about the clarity of legal documents, we’re talking about more than plain language and the clarity of our words – although we are talking about that too. We’re talking about everything from the readability of documents to font size, white space, kerning, the appropriate placement of margins in the event that a document will be faxed repeatedly, organization, numeration, and everything else we can think of. And then the litigators look at the document from the perspective of a judge, squinting to read and understand what exactly the parties have bargained for. And we fine tune.

At the end of the day, our goal is to provide a legal document that envisions the intention of the parties in a clear manner, contemplates current and incoming legislation, is adaptable for changes in case law and will add value to the underlying interaction between the parties. Our multi-disciplined and flexible approach produces excellent documentation. And that documentation improves the systems of our clients.

That’s the Andriessen Document Advantage.

Scott R. Young