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A new generation of contract drafters faces increasing commentary advising them to change traditional contract terms into plain language constructions. Yet, traditional, tested terms have consistent meanings, and when these meanings benefit client objectives, advocates should consider retaining them. This article posits that failing to do so can impact a lawyer’s ethical obligations. Specifically, an attorney’s duties of competence, allocation of authority, diligence, and communication under the Model Rules of Professional Conduct require careful thought about modernizing tested contract terms. These duties require the ethical drafter to research whether the use of a traditional, tested term advances a client goal more effectively, and communicate with the client concerning the risks associated with the potential change.

Publication Citation

84 U. Cin. L. Rev. 595 (2016).