Understanding contract provisions

Here’s one of my favorite quotes, from Alice in Wonderland:

I can explain all the poems that ever were invented — and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet. 

Humpty Dumpty


Unfortunately, as good as I am, my skills do not extend to all contract provisions. I read at least one this month that didn’t have any conceivable meaning. I don’t know who wrote it, and I certainly don’t know why. Lawyers spend a good chunk of time, especially at certain law schools, learning how to both live in and construct hypotheticals, forwards and backwards, to understand the law and the facts and that intersection of the two that we call legal advice.

So when I can’t even come up with a hypothetical situation or meaning or intent for a provision, it’s really, really  broken. And while that usually means nothing bad will happen, I wonder: what was the client or lawyer trying to do that didn’t get done? What’s the opportunity cost of that?

And that’s one more reason great lawyers don’t sell forms: forms don’t give you advice.