The case for plain-language contracts

The case for plain-language contracts

Author: 
Burton, Shawn
Publisher: 
Harvard Business School Press
Date published: 
2018
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Harvard Business Review
Source: 
Harvard Business Review, Vol. 96, No. 1, January-February 2018, pp. 134-139
Abstract: 

What do you call a dense, overly lengthy contract that's loaded with legal jargon and virtually impossible for a non-lawyer to understand? The status quo, says Shawn Burton, the general counsel for GE Aviation's Business & General Aviation. When Burton was leading the legal team for that division's new digital-services unit, he and his colleagues noticed that customer contract negotiations were dragging on for months, hampering growth. So they set out to replace the unit's seven excruciatingly complicated contracts with one that even a high schooler could understand. In this article, Burton describes how the team went about achieving that goal and the lessons learned along the way. He also shares the results: Customers were delighted with the new contract, and some even signed it without making a single change. The time it took to negotiate contracts dropped by a whopping 60%. And now plain-language contracts are starting to spread inside GE.

Language: 
Date created: 
Wednesday, February 7, 2018