Several months ago, I posted the backwards paragraph to demonstrate the immense power of the brain to fill in gaps or to make sense out of the nonsensical. Understanding this brain functionality is important when you’re trying to communicate with others because of this difference between reality and perception.
But it’s not just words (the parietal lobe) but also the occipital lobe (colors and shapes) that can create this distortion.
So, what does all of this really have to do with contracts? Well, besides communicating with others, the problem I’ve seen in the recent past has been an increase in the number of missing words in contract templates. Now, I’m not talking about significant words – “liability” isn’t absent, for example. It’s an article of speech – an “an”, “a”, “the”, etc – that’s forgotten… or a word improperly capitalized. And your brain simply fills in the gap(s).
Of course, it might not be a big deal. But can you see that there is a difference between “the Services” (with a defined term), a service, or a Service? The Services could mean a group of behaviors, “a service” could simply be a single service component of the Services… or it could be a service separate and apart from any of the services. Which means that “a Service” could be one of several behaviors, but not all of them. The key here is learning to read in a different mode. Similar to the difference in reading a contract compared to reading a fiction novel, copy editing is a completely different style designed to produce a different result. Mastery of these different styles will help you become a better contract drafter and reviewer.