If you want to take control of your contract drafting, as opposed to regurgitating the language of whatever contract models you happen to be using, you’ll have to decide what to do with “shall.”

Here’s where things currently stand in the United States: On the one hand, the corporate bar is addicted to “shall,” with business contracts exhibiting rampant overuse of the word. On the other hand, some commentators on legal writing insist that “shall” be dropped from contracts. The most vocal is perhaps Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary and author of many books on legal writing. A useful statement of that view, albeit from an Australian perspective, can be found in “Plain Language for Lawyers,” by Mich�le M. Asprey.

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