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We Must Draft Contracts Using Fewer Words: Ones The Kids Know

James W. Martin

Experts report that teenagers know just 800 words but should know 40,000. These future contract signers have grown up on Facebook, Twitter and cellphone texting. They might not understand the words that Florida contract lawyers draft. Therefore, we must draft contracts with fewer words. The ones the kids know.

Retired Villanova law professor Michael Walsh, writing in ALI-ABA The Practical Lawyer (Aug 2010), notes that there are 1 million words in the English language, far more than the 500,000 Cantonese words, 250,000 Spanish words, and 100,000 French words. He also notes that a word must appear 25,000 times and be understood by 100 million people before it counts as part of the language. We are adding a new word to English every hour and a half.

Many of these new words are created by kids or their technology. Words like lol, texting and bff. Of course, we grownups have our own new words, like subprime and TARP.

The point is, Florida contract lawyers need to draft contracts using words people know. The best way to avoid litigation over contracts is for the parties to be able to read and understand the contracts before they sign them. So, we need to avoid the 39,200 words that our kids don’t know. Because they are the ones who will one day read and sign those contracts.

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