This article is written by Ramanuj Mukerjee, CEO, iPleaders.
Contract drafting is a very basic skill that all lawyers, no matter in which area they eventually specialize, will be expected to have. Apart from drafting, contract negotiation is also considered to be a very important and valuable legal skill. Drafting as well as negotiating contracts happen to be very rewarding legal work, both in terms of earning potential, efforts involved and career opportunities available to those who are good at it.
However, a large number of Indian lawyers have poor drafting skills. Many Indian lawyers never receive proper training in contract drafting, and no training at all when it comes to contract negotiation. They learn these skills if at all on the fly, trying to handle client matters when they land up on their plate, and learn through trial and error if they have good seniors to review and give feedback their work.
Where do lawyers fall short with contract drafting?
As a result, a large majority of lawyers who claim to be able to draft contracts for their clients are often just borrowing a template from a colleague and changing a few details. They don’t have any real skills when it comes to understanding commercial aspects of a contract or with respect to drafting clauses that take long term interests or risks or even substantial legal issues into account. Their clients may discover to their surprise that the contract they paid for doesn’t hold good in law, or is invalid due to a glaring error or that very basic issues have not been addressed in the contract.
This kind of disaster takes a long time to be discovered, but completely ruins the credibility of lawyers. On the other hand, a good lawyer with the right skills will be guiding the clients through several stages like identification of commercial interests, best practices in the industry, several rounds of drafting and review, negotiation with the other side, and even execution and contract management.
Contract drafting: a highly rewarding skill
Contract drafting as well as contract negotiation is a highly rewarding and profitable part of any legal practice. Both individual lawyers and organized law firms tend to do make a significant portion of their revenue from contract drafting, and it is usually a highly reliable and profitable revenue stream. Compared to many other areas of work which are unpredictable in terms of investment of time as well as effort, contract drafting and negotiation is a more predictable process and margins are usually high. The best part is that even young lawyers can earn a good living from contract drafting.
Many young litigators who are working hard at making a name in the court as arguing counsel, makes comparatively very less money from the litigation side of their practice. However, contract drafting on the sidelines helps to pay the bills. Many lawyers with fledgling practices also hire juniors to do contract drafting if they are able to source enough drafting work to bolster the revenues of their practice.
Big law firms usually make a lot of money from their transactional practices such as M&A, Banking, Projects or Corporate Finance which involves a lot of contract drafting for those transactions and negotiation. Hence, having good contract drafting skills and negotiation ability is critical to doing well in big law firms, especially in the transactional practice areas which are usually more lucrative. Many big law firms pay less to litigation associates or IP law associates especially at the entry level as opposed to those handling transactions.
There is no doubt that a lawyer, unless already very successful and established, tremendously benefits from systematically learning contract drafting and negotiation.
Law schools do not teach contract drafting
Most law colleges have elaborate courses on contract law, but all they teach is the Indian Contract Act and case law regarding the act. This is what the BCI mandates law schools to teach as well. However, contract drafting is very different. Knowing the sections don’t help when a client asks you to draft a joint venture agreement or negotiate a joint development agreement. For that, an entirely different set of training is required.
Although some law colleges are supposed to have clinical training where contract drafting is supposed to be taught. In reality, there is not sufficient time, effort or resources given to it. As a result, graduates have next to nil contract drafting abilities or have to learn it themselves to an extent when they begin practice.
How can we help?
We created a comprehensive course on drafting and negotiating commercial contracts with expertise from top lawyers with cutting edge experience of drafting and negotiating high value commercial contracts in big law firms and private practice.
This is a fully online course for lawyers and professionals to learn drafting and negotiation of commercial contracts, and comes with live classes, simulation exercises that teach you how to draft around 100 important commercial contracts and you also get personalised feedback to improve your drafting skills. The course modules can be accessed 24×7, from anywhere in the world, through your smartphone or any computer. The classes are held after working hours so that lawyers and working professionals can easily attend. Plus, you can attend classes from your mobile using an app. Can it get any easier?
With this course, you can turn your unproductive time into productive. You can pull out your mobile and start studying while waiting in a queue, or traveling by a bus or cab or even a flight. You can download the material inside the app ahead of time and study while you have no internet connection as well.
You can log into the course from anywhere anytime and study the best material available to learn contract drafting and negotiation with respect to major commercial contracts and learn from successful lawyers who can teach you best practices from around the world.
What can you expect to achieve through the course?
Most of our students who learn contract drafting are practicing lawyers and in-house counsels. Practicing Lawyers can benefit from the course by refreshing their knowledge on drafting and negotiation and practicing drafting of various types of commercial agreements.
While you may be already drafting many agreements, the course will give you an opportunity to upgrade your skills in this area. Any creases will likely be ironed out and missing components will be worked upon with the help of regular exercises and feedback from our experts. You can expect to handle your clients better and deliver more value to them after you complete the course.
You will be able to connect what you learn in college about contract law with the real work contract drafting and negotiation work that lawyers do. This is extremely valuable from the point of view of doing well in internships, cracking interviews and bagging lucrative jobs as having good skills in contract drafting and negotiation will make you employable and set you apart from your classmates. You will notice that the kind of work you will get in your internships after doing this course will drastically change as lawyers realise that you can help them with much more than just proof-reading and basic research.
Perhaps, you can even begin to earn on the side even before your college is over. Why not, if you have got the skills?
Business Professionals and Entrepreneurs
Business Professionals as well as entrepreneurs have to negotiate contracts all the time, and while not all agreements are of equal importance, many of them are of make-or-break nature. It is neither possible nor advisable to employ lawyers in every step, and that’s why Steve Jobs said that every intelligent person should learn how to read a contract and understand it.
However, if you go a step more and learn to amend and negotiate it, it will truly make a difference to your business. It is not at all surprising that CEOs of many Fourtune 500 companies like Goldman Sachs, Disney etc are lawyers by training. While Tatas and Reliance can afford to hire armies of lawyers, you can have a competitive advantage by understanding the rules of the game when it comes to making binding contracts as well as enforcing them.
Who will be teaching you
The team behind the course has experience of drafting and negotiating contracts worth billions, for top law firms, large MNCs, startups and government projects. LawSikho is undisputed market leader in online legal education, and trusted by top Universities, MNCs and startups alike. We have done internal legal and compliance training for over 14,000 employees of companies like Microsoft, BCG, Samsung, JCB, Feedback Infrastructure, AgroCorp and a lot more. We proudly offer the most advanced legal courses in India and our courses have been pursued by thousands of individual students from over 24 countries so far. Check out the profiles of the faculty of the course on the course page itself. You can check out our others law courses here.
Duration of the course
Expected time requirement: 7-10 hours a week
Live class once a week over video conferencing (after work hours, usually 8-9 pm on weekdays, between 6-8 pm on Saturdays, Sunday afternoons or similar timing)
The course fee is INR 30,000. If one pays in one go instead of availing the installment facility, they get the course at one time payment of INR 28,000.
Where do we get the certification from?
After successful completion of the course and online exam, the certification is given from LawSikho.com. A physical copy of the certificate will be sent by courier to the address you provide.
If you are interested in pursuing the Contract Drafting and Negotiation course, please visit this link and enrol. For any questions, call us on +91 11 40845203.
Remember, successful people keep investing in their self-development. Masters are always improving their own skills ceaselessly. It enables them to spot and capitalize on new opportunities in their career, which they couldn’t even see before.