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Legal Writing

Practice-Focused Database Tools

Bloomberg Law Transactional Intelligence Center (Bloomberg Law password required)
Bloomberg Law’s Transactional Law Resources include documents and clauses used in real legal transactions, document descriptions, and drafting guides. Resources can be both searched and browsed.

Lexis Practical Guidance (Lexis password required)
Lexis Practical Guidance contains resources focused on transaction law including annotated forms, practitioner insights, and drafting guidance.  Resources are organized by eleven practice areas.

Westlaw Practical Law (Westlaw password required)
The Practical Law Center focuses on transactional law resources.  Content includes how-to guides and explanations of current law and practice, example/”standard” documents and clauses with drafting notes, practitioner-written articles, and legal updates. Ask Practical Law AI is also available on academic Westlaw accounts - it is a generative AI-based, question-and-answer tool that summarizes and synthesizes answers grounded in the close universe of Practical Law content.

Model Agreements and Forms

Bloomberg Law (Bloomberg Law password required)

  • Transactional Precedent Search (formerly DealMaker Documents and Clauses)
    Over 800,000 agreements that were used by practitioners in real transactions; documents are sourced from the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) EDGAR database.
  • Sample Agreements
    Bloomberg Law offers nearly 200 sample (model) agreements, many with explanatory annotations. 

Westlaw (Westlaw password required)

  • Standard Documents and Standard Clauses
    Standard documents and clauses within Practical Law are sample contracts and contractual clauses that provide practical drafting and negotiating guidance; the forms and clauses can be downloaded and saved in Word for easy editing.
  • Sample Agreements
    This Westlaw database provides access to over a million executed business agreements with clauses and provisions drafted by attorneys; documents are sourced from the SEC’s EDGAR database.
  • Form Finder
    A searchable database of forms; forms can also be browsed by state, topic, or publication.

Lexis (Lexis password required)

  • Sample Forms
    A collection of standard forms that can be searched as well as browsed by state and practice area.

AmJur2d Legal Forms
A multi-volume set that contains a broad range of common legal forms, organized alphabetically by subject. The volumes of this title are also available online via Westlaw (Westlaw password required).

Transactional Document Drafting Guides

Bloomberg Law (Bloomberg Law password required)

  • In Focus: Contract Drafting
    This Bloomberg page provides a one-stop resource for contract-related Practical Guidance, precedent documents, up-to-date sample clauses, and more.
  • Drafting Guides
    Bloomberg's drafting guides provide guidance on how to draft specific types of legal documents. 
  • Draft Analyzer
    Draft Analyzer is a tool that allows you to compare your drafted transactional document's language against EDGAR exhibits to determine market standard language. The system matches your text to similar templates representing consensus drafting from EDGAR. The Bloomberg system categorizes each paragraph based on textual similarity and constructs one or more unified versions (“consensus templates”) for each identified cluster of similarly worded paragraphs. It also identifies and quantifies areas of linguistic variance and displays the most common alternative words or phrases used in its source paragraphs.

Westlaw (Westlaw password required)

  • Practice Notes
    Practice notes are a nuts and bolts guide to an area of law. They provide a concise but thorough overview of specific legal matters and provide references to related materials.
  • Checklists
    Checklists on Practical Law incorporate timelines, flowcharts, tables, decision trees, and lists of issues to assist in tracking of steps to completion a specific legal undertaking.

CALI Contract Drafting Lessons
CALI has a number of lessons related to contract drafting, including Drafting Contracts Using “Shall', “May” and “Must,” Drafting with “And” and “Or,” and Contract Drafting: The Sale of Goods.  Information on accessing CALI lessons is available here (ASURITE ID required).

Adams on Contract Drafting
This blog from Ken Adams, a practicing attorney and the author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, provides opinion and analysis on topics related to contract drafting.

A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting (Kenneth A. Adams, 2023)
A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting is an in-depth survey of the building blocks of contract language.  The treatise focuses on how to express contract terms in language that is free of ambiguities and other problems.  It offers examples and analysis of sample terminology.

Contract Drafting: Powerful Prose in Transactional Practice (Lenné Eidson Espenschied, 2019)​
Through fourteen lessons, Contract Drafting provides an introduction to the substantive areas addressed in transactional documents and instruction on drafting topics that include avoiding ambiguity and proper word selection.

Drafting and Analyzing Contracts: A Guide to the Practical Application of the Principles of Contract Law (Scott Burnham, 2016)
This title is organized into three parts: Part 1 addresses how the principles of contract law are exemplified in drafting; Part II discusses how the principles of drafting are exemplified in contracts; and Part III guides the reader on how to read and analyze a contract.

Garner's Guidelines for Drafting & Editing Contracts (Bryan A. Garner, 2019)
This resource from a recognized legal writing expert introduces students to contract drafting and how to write clear, concise, well organized legal documents. It includes discussions on formatting including spacing and fonts and accepted conventions in contracts. Garner provides expert advice on optimal structure and word choice. He emphasizes the importance of avoiding "forbidden words," legalese, and unfamiliar idioms to  help students produce clear, effective documents.

Legal Drafting in a Nutshell (George W. Kuney and Donna C. Looper, 2021)
This compact guide provides guidance on producing transactional documents, contracts, instruments, legislation, and regulations. It offers instruction on approaching the drafting process both from the large scale, macro overview and the small scale, micro mechanics of a document.

Preparing Legal Documents Nonlawyers Can Read and Understand (Wayne Schiess, 2008)
This title focuses on ways the legal writer can connect with a lay audience through the use of appropriate language, grammar, and formatting.

Working with Contracts: What Law School Doesn't Teach You (Charles M. Fox, 2002)
Working with Contracts is a helpful handbook for drafting transactional documents and provides a roadmap for navigating the legal, business, and technical knowledge essential to drafting superior legal agreements.