What is legal drafting?
Legal drafting is the careful language used in documents and instruments setting out rights and duties, e.g. statutes, regulations, general terms and conditions, contracts, deeds and so on.
What are the goals of MLD training?
The goal is to express Dutch drafted text correctly, clearly and conventionally in English, while at the same time still bearing in mind the Dutch legal application.
The MLD programme covers theory, but the modules are practical and designed to immediately improve drafting skills. Each module consists of a series of explanations, discussions and exercises. The exercises are based on drafting practice, error correction, translation, multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank exercises.
Another goal of the MLD programme is to supplement good drafting skills, specifically by reinforcing a good sense of modern English drafting style, attention to detail, an alertness to ambiguity, and the confidence to avoid mere cutting and pasting.
The Mastering Legal Drafting programme is designed as a follow-up on the Mastering Legal English programme.
This programme does not cover the Dutch legal aspects of drafting. Nor is it training on English law or the drafting of common-law instruments.
Who can take the MLD programme?
This programme is suitable for Dutch legal professionals who are already working at a high level in English but who want to perfect their skills. Ideally, participants will have English drafting experience.
Courses can be organised for drafters at various levels.
Who developed the MLD programme?
The MLD programme has been developed by Greg Korbee, a Dutch-Canadian lawyer-linguist (and formerly a practising lawyer) who has been working with Dutch legal professionals and teaching legal English in the Netherlands for 18 years. His clients include many of the largest law firms in the Netherlands, corporate legal departments, government legal departments and legal training organisations.
What are the themes of the MLD programme?
The MLD programme is based on the following eight themes.
- “General” modules introduce legal drafting and basic terminology.
- Two “Practical” modules provide personal feedback on specific clauses and translation practice.
- Five “Obligations” modules look at various aspects of expressing Dutch legal obligations clearly and conventionally in English.
- Four “Entitlements” modules cover the clear and conventional expression of Dutch legal entitlements in text drafted in English.
- Seven “Conditions” modules deal thoroughly with the expression of Dutch legal conditions in English.
- Seven “Time Expressions” modules all pertain to the tricky issues involved in expressing Dutch time concepts clearly and conventionally in English.
- “Signposts” encompasses “delineation” wording (i.e. wording used to explain things in more detail) and cross-references.
- “Multiplicity” consists of three modules dealing with number, conjunctions and series in drafting.
What is the MLD approach?
Getting lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring and feedback
Drafting is a technical skill learned mostly “on the job” from mentors and more-experienced experts in the organisation. In the Netherlands, many Dutch legal professionals are drafting or translating legal documents without the benefit of feedback from English-speaking lawyers. The MLD programme fills this gap by providing lawyer-to-lawyer feedback on real-life clauses.
Connecting to the English legal drafting community
One aim of the MLD programme is to introduce the participants to the English drafting world, including the experts, the guides, the cases, the principles, the controversies, and so on.
The MLD programme is quality oriented. The standard is the same as for translation: How would this document be drafted if the drafter were a good English-speaking legal drafter?
Achieving the right balance
Many instruments produced by Dutch legal professionals in English have language and clarity issues. The goal is to eliminate or reduce these problems so that the document achieves its intended purpose under Dutch law and yet is drafted in correct, clear and conventional English.
Because drafted text is a formal and important way of writing, there is a particular reluctance to drift from the original Dutch text. The text is “too Dutch”. The opposite problem is that sometimes cutting and pasting results in Dutch legal documents that are entirely “too English”. There is an ongoing need to strike the right balance between Dutch law and the English language.
There is also a balance between elaborate, precise language and a plainer, more modern style.
Learning the nuts and bolts
It’s true that Dutch lawyers should have some understanding of the principles, theory and cases. However, the real problem is with the practical aspects, particularly the conventional wording used to achieve a desired effect and translating Dutch words and phrases into English. This training fills these gaps. We look carefully at what the Dutch wording is actually intended to mean, and how this is expressed exactly in English.