What is Legal Document Drafting?
If you’ve ever signed a lease or purchased a car before, you’ve probably signed a contract. Have you ever wondered where all that legal talk that you’re supposed to read comes from? We have the answer for you: legal document drafting.
Legal document drafting is a task that involves writing documents to be used for legal purposes. While there are document templates that can make the process of creating them simpler, each legal document has unique qualities that make it custom-tailored to the situation it is meant to address. The drafting stage of a document involves crafting the clauses, provisions, terms and conditions, and more.
In the next sections, you will learn about the common types of legal documents, how to draft them, and what rules you need to follow while you do it.
Common Types of Legal Documents
There is a legal document out there for almost any agreement that you can think of. Think about every agreement that you have ever put your signature on. That was a legal document!
A legal document can fall under one of three categories: an instrument, a pleading, or a general legal document.
Examples of legal instruments include:
Examples of legal pleadings include:
- Legal complaints (for use in the courtroom)
- Legal answers (for use in the courtroom)
Examples of general legal documents include:
- Police reports
Check out this webpage to learn more about the different types of legal documents.
How to Draft Legal Documents
The good news about legal document drafting is that it is very rarely done from scratch. Most of the time, contract lawyers use contract templates and other assistive tools to help them in their legal drafting . These templates are often publicly accessible, but sometimes are owned by the lawyer’s firm.
Legal document drafting is as easy as having the information you need to fill in the blank spaces on a legal template in most cases. Here is a simple four step process that you can use to draft legal documents:
Step One: Plan Your Document
The first step to tackling any big job is to have a game plan, and drafting legal documents is no exception. Before you can draft the document, you must plan it out. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Know your audience : A legal document drafted for a business partner versus one drafted for an employee is going to be different. Write using language that your audience will understand.
- State the purpose : Each document you draft has a specific purpose. Be sure that purpose is clearly stated somewhere in the document.
- Gather the details : Before you can draft your document, you need all the pertinent information in front of you. Gather all these details, such as information, facts, statements, and evidence for your document ahead of time.
- Have a timeline : The best way you can ensure you are successful is to create a timeline for yourself. Have a plan for when you will complete each section to hold yourself accountable and make sure you are not rushed to complete the document before your deadline. Keep in mind that you may need to revise and edit the document before the final product is done, so allow time for that.
- Consider hiring a lawyer : When it comes to drafting legal documents, there isn’t much room for error. Working with a professional contracts lawyer ensures that your legal document is sound.
Step Two: Make it Easy to Read
It’s already hard enough for many people to get through the legal aspects of a legal document. The last thing you want to do is make it even more difficult by throwing too much legal jargon around.
Another thing you can do to make your document easy to read is to mind the formatting. If there are certain sections that you know are more important, you can bold their titles or highlight certain areas to draw attention to them.
This makes it easier for the signing party to get the information they need out of the contract without wasting too much time reading the technical aspects of it.
Step Three: Keep it Concise
Since legal documents need to be so well-thought-out and accurate, it can be tempting to include unnecessary information to err on the side of caution. Unfortunately, adding too many footnotes or placing the same information multiple times throughout the document can be distracting.
Remember to keep your language as concise as possible. Most legal documents are long enough – they don’t need any extra help being time-consuming to read.
Step Four: Complete a Contract Review
Once you complete your legal document, do a contract review . Make note of any spelling or grammatical errors and if you find an area where you didn’t include something important, go back and change it. It’s always a good idea to have a few different opinions at this step, so don’t be afraid to ask others to review your work and give their notes on it, as well.
While you are drafting legal documents, here are a few things you can keep in mind to help the process go more smoothly:
- Pay attention to your language . Sentences should be as clear and concise as possible and should be written in plain English.
- Watch your grammar usage . A legal document riddled with poor grammar not only looks unprofessional, but it could also be unusable in court.
- Accuracy is key. It is vital that you make sure the information in your legal document is as accurate as possible. You must go the extra mile and research when needed.
Basic Rules of Legal Document Drafting
Legal document drafting is a structured process that must follow certain rules. Since these documents must stand up in court, it’s vital to follow a few basic rules when it comes to the drafting of legal documents:
- Write in active voice
- Use letter-sized paper (8.5x11) – sometimes legal-sized paper depending on the document
- Use a traditional font
- Use 1-1.5-inch margins to make text easy to read
- Legal documents must contain captions, headings, signature lines, space for notary, space for attorneys to sign
Learn more the rules of legal document drafting by checking out this article .
Legal Document Drafting Fees
The below legal document drafting fee data comes from ContractsCounsel’s marketplace. The table includes 12 popular legal document drafting projects.
|Document Type||Bid Avg||Project Avg|
|Single-Member Operating Agreement||$525||$450|
|Multi-Member Operating Agreement||$1,100||$950|
|Terms of Service||$845||$450|
All data is flat-fee (not hourly), so the pricing you see below is the total to complete a project. Please note, pricing for drafting can vary based on document type, number of custom terms, and number of revisions needed. The above pricing table includes averages.
Who Provides Legal Document Drafting Services?
If you need legal document drafting services but you’re not sure where to start, we have good news for you: contract lawyers can help. Whether you need assistance setting up a contract template or you want to hire someone who knows how to write a business contract, they are perfect for the job. It’s always a good idea to get the help of a professional, especially when it comes to highly technical documents like legal agreements.
Post a project on ContractsCounsel today to connect with contract lawyers who specialize in drafting legal documents today.
Meet some of our Legal Document Drafting Lawyers
Brandon is a Texas Super Lawyer®, meaning he is among the top 2.5% of attorneys in his state. He has designed his practice to provide a unique ecosystem of legal support services to business and entrepreneurs, derived from his background as a federal district law clerk, published biochemist, and industry lecturer. Brandon is fluent in Spanish, an Eagle Scout, and actively involved with the youth in his community. He loves advocating for his clients and thinks he may never choose to retire.
Firm rated best ADR firm for Wisconsin and won an award for cultural innovation in dispute resolution from acquisition international magazine in 2016 and it was rated "Best of Brookfield" by Best Businesses in 2015. Attorney Maxwell C. Livingston was rated 10 best in Labor & Employment Law by American Institute of Legal Counsel and 40 Under 40 by American Society of Legal Advocates for 2016; he also won 10 Best by American Institute of Family Law Attorneys. He is licensed in Wisconsin in all state and federal courts, and in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, wherein he won a landmark decision in McCray v. Wielke.
Richard is a wizard at taking on bureaucracies and simply getting the job done. His clients value his straight-forward counsel and his ability to leverage a top-notch legal staff for efficient and effective results. Richard is a professional engineer, professor of law, and has been named among the top 2.5% of attorneys in Texas by the Super Lawyers®. When he is not driving results for his clients, Richard can be found with his small herd on his Texas homestead.
Experienced attorney and tax analyst with a history of working in the government and private industry. Skilled in Public Speaking, Contract Law, Corporate Governance, and Contract Negotiation. Strong professional graduate from Penn State Law.
I am an attorney admitted in NY, with over 6 years of experience drafting, reviewing and negotiating a wide array of contracts and agreements. I have experience in Sports and Entertainment, Real Estate, Healthcare, Estate Planning and with Startup Companies. I am confident I can assist you with all of your legal needs.
Rishma D. Eckert, Esq. is a business law attorney who primarily represents domestic and international companies and entrepreneurs. A native of both Belize and Guyana, she remains engaged with the Caribbean community in South Florida: as a Board Member and General Counsel for the Belize American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, and Member of the Guyanese American Chamber of Commerce. She holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B.) from the University of Guyana in South America, a Master’s degree in International and Comparative Law (LL.M.) from Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida, and earned a Juris Doctor degree (J.D.) from St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, Florida. Licensed to practice in the State of Florida and the Federal Court in the Southern District of Florida, Mrs. Eckert focuses her passion and practice on domestic and international corporate structuring and incorporation, corporate governance, contract negotiation and drafting, and trademark and copyright registrations.
Mark A. Addington focuses his practice primarily on employment litigation, including contractual disputes, restrictive covenants (such as non-competition, non-solicitation, or confidential information restrictions), defense of wage and hour, harassment, retaliatory discharge, disability, age, religion, race, and sex discrimination.
Founder and Managing partner of Emerald Law, PLLC, a business law firm specializing in contract drafting and corporate transactions. Kiel worked as in house counsel for a variety of companies before launching his own firm, and most recently served as the Chief Legal Officer for an international private equity firm.
Jay Pink is an attorney who works with businesses and families on estate planning, and business law matters. Having his CPA license, and working in multiple family businesses over his career has positioned him to provide valuable insight on successful business operations. He has formed many entities - LLC's, Corps Partnerships and non-profit organizations.
Skilled in the details of complex corporate transactions, I have 15 years experience working with entrepreneurs and businesses to plan and grow for the future. Clients trust me because of the practical guided advice I provide. No deal is too small or complex for me to handle.
I work with early stage startups (in Georgia and internationally) with their formation, contract and investment needs.