Chesler and Sneddon on Humanizing Transactional Documents: Why and How Transactional Drafters Should Use Narrative Techniques @MercerLAWSchool @ASUCollegeOfLaw

Susan Chesler, Arizona State University College of Law, and Karen J. Sneddon, Mercer Law School, have published Humanizing Transactional Documents: Why and How Transactional Drafters Should Use Narrative Techniques at 23 Transactions: Tennessee Journal of Business Law 222 (2022). Here is the abstract.

The core of many transactional documents will be the acquisition, creation, or exchange of property or services. Yet, transactional documents are not only descriptive legal devices that dictate the exchange of widgets for cash. They are multifaceted documents that have the ability to do more than memorialize a transaction and create the private laws between the parties. As narrative texts transactional documents tell the stories of the parties’ relationship, whether it be an employment agreement, trust document, or purchase and sale agreement. Transactional documents present necessary and relevant information as a series of linked events where the transacting parties become characters participating in a narrative arc. The effectiveness of the transactional document can be enhanced with the drafter’s use of narrative-based techniques.

The transactional drafter’s use of narrative-based drafting techniques results in documents that better achieve the drafter’s dual goals: (1) to facilitate performance by the transacting parties as intended and (2) to encourage third-party decision makers like judges and juries to interpret the document as intended when necessary. These dual goals of the transactional drafter relate directly to the need to engage the varied audience of transactional documents and to persuade those audiences. By using narrative-based drafting techniques that better engage and persuade audiences, drafters can craft more effective transactional documents.

Furthermore, the use of narrative techniques in transactional drafting achieves another, less obvious purpose: it humanizes the transactional document in the eyes of both the parties and third decision makers. As a result, the transacting parties and any third-party decision makers who engage with the document are more likely to view the parties and their transaction in a favorable, more appealing light.

This article addresses not only the reasons why transactional documents should be considered both narrative texts and persuasive documents, but also presents concrete examples of how drafters can use narrative-based drafting techniques to craft more effective documents. These transactional documents will not only better achieve the drafter’s dual goals, but they will humanize the documents and give voice to the transacting parties and their transactions.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.