Venable partner Chuck Morton was interviewed in a June 10, 2016 Law360 article common M&A writing pitfalls and best practice to avoid them. The article focuses on understanding the deal, looking past precedent, avoiding clichés, taking a step back to look for improvements, and considering the audience.
"One of the things I'll often do with young lawyers, is say, 'Don't look at the page, but tell me, what's the deal? Who's getting what in exchange for what?'" said Morton. "If you don't start with that sort of clarity of understanding, it's almost impossible to write a document that captures it." He added that attorneys will often flowery language or too many words in an effort to look smart or show off their writing skills when they should focus on clarity and concision. "Sometimes people confuse lots of words with intelligence, but I find that the opposite sometimes is true, that the better documents are briefer, more concise," he said. "Longer is not more clear."
Morton said he uses checklists and cheat sheets when drafting documents reminding him to double check cross-references, exhibit labels and currency usage. As deals become bigger and more complicated, the lists help keep track of nuances and details. "Lawyers can lose sight of the fact that there's no good writing, just good rewriting. At some point you run out of time, you don't run out of ways to make it shorter or more clear," he said. "This is a lifelong exercise. They call it practice for a reason."