All of us at some stage, and probably far more often than we realise, will be involved with legal contracts. When we sign an employment agreement, get married, buy a house, sign on a dotted line at the bottom of any document, we are entering into a contract. But many of us don’t fully appreciate what that means. This is in part due to the difficulties associated with navigating a contract. So, Verity White’s Secrets of Productive Contracts comes as both a relief and a signpost for the way contracts should be written. Ms White is a lawyer and works as a legal counsel (after being a paralegal whilst studying for her law degree). The focus of her legal career has been commercial law and contracts, so she is well placed to provide a way forward out of the dense and mystifying jungle of contracts.
Ms White’s Secrets of Productive Contracts reads well, her writing style invites you in for a friendly but intelligent discussion of how contracts usually are and why they could be different. It is almost like sitting in a café across a table from Ms White and listening to her lead you through to the much more user friendly alternative she has described.
The book is not free from legal jargon, but it must use such terms in order to indicate what other options could be used. The second half of the book seems better organised and presented. It comes across as more confident and sure of itself, with more concrete presentation of ideas and concepts. All the secrets in Secrets of Productive Contracts are presented in a way that ensures you understand them, and the section “Putting all the Secrets Together” is especially useful as an overview of how to combine the book’s messages. There is a one page summary/diagram which is excellent.
Ms White’s book has left me with a desire for contracts to be prepared in this way, and to have all my sandwiches in reverse mode. It is after all that contracts should serve the signatories, not the lawyers who draw up the contract. One can only hope this approach gets picked up.