People who work in corporations are often asked to rewrite some legalese into customer-friendly language.
I have found it best to be conciliatory in your approach to the legal department. I am sure you are all always diplomatic in your relations with them, but here is what I have learned from my experience.
Give them what you can afford to sacrifice: usually a recital of consideration is not required but if it can be understandable and brief, leave it.
Then be sure to cover off all points in the legalese, even if the lawyers get snooty and say that it is redundant or repetitive once you translate. In fact, suggest that it is so when you forward your draft, asking their permission to delete some.
Forward your revision identifying it as a draft with a disclaimer that is for their consideration and say that you would like to discuss it with them.
Once you force a lawyer to justify his or her junk words, they will seek to exceed your expectations (read as: show you up) by doing an even better job of clearing up your draft version.
As to technique, I find it helps to sort out the sentence segments of the legalese into small units of thought before trying to clear it up or even to make sense of the legalese. Like this:
Break it down
In consideration for
my ability to participate
in this [experimental]program,
I agree, for myself
and my successors, administrators, heirs and assigns,
to fully and generally release, waive and forever discharge [name of agency] , any affiliated companies or subsidiaries, their predecessors, successors, affiliates, assigns, directors, officer, employees, agents and attorneys, whether past, present or future
from any and all actions,
suits, debts, demands, damages, claims, judgments, liabilities, benefits or other remedial relief of any nature, including, costs and attorneys’ fees,
related in any way to
my agreements and
the conditions and guidelines contained in this Agreement.
Get Positive and Normal
Converting to positive constructions is the next step. Concerning this, where one side is required to do or not do something, I figure we should state what the other side should or how that affects the other person — in the interest of full disclosure to the consumer.
Also, the thinking process of going positive with the language usually brings you into standard English. Then you can rethink and shorten.
Luckily for me, I am never the final authority on the legal mumbo-jumbo. So the lawyers would definitely go over my draft below and have their input. Also, I have ente
A draft for a revision:
I agree as follows in return for being allowed to participate in this
[experimental] program. (This is a recital of consideration.)
I accept personal responsibility for any injury or damages arising
because I have not complied with the conditions and guidelines
communicated to me. (This is actually ALL that should be needed here.)
For myself and my successors, heirs and assigns,
* I release and waive [name of agency] and
* I discharge any affiliated companies or agents
(This I would leave to discuss with the lawyers because it could certainly be shortened.)
for any cause of action in tort or contract or otherwise that I now have
or may have arising from my failure to comply with the conditions and
guidelines contained elsewhere in this Agreement.
(This is also too wordy.)
I understand and agree that I will not make any claims against anyone
else that might result in that person making a claim for contribution or
indemnity against [name of agency] and I agree to protect [agency]
against loss or damage if any claims are made on my behalf.
I have read and understand this release. (Legal nicety but nonsense in reality.)
I know I can be a bit snarky about lawyers but no offence (Cdn spelling) is intended. I have loved a few.