Re: writing drafts of legal documents?

Subject: Re: writing drafts of legal documents?
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- qwest -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2001 17:37:00 -0600

I have been asked to participate in writing/drafting legal documents in
the past. I have learned to be blunt back and tell them that I am not
qualified to write such documents and they need to get legal counsel. I
further tell them, very firmly, that I'm not comfortable participating
in such activities. I apologize for not being able to help, and I am not
too confrontational about it. But I put it back on them.

I think you are entirely correct to suspect that whatever you produce
will be the final document. They evidently aren't willing to do it right
to begin with, so I'm sure they'll feel it's okay to cut corners later.
But if anything ends up in a lawsuit, and it likely will (just the
nature of doing business these days), you could well end up being blamed
internally even if you can't be held liable. By the way, you should
check with your own attorney on that one. I'm guessing that because you
are performing work for your company you aren't individually liable, but
that is ONLY a guess.

Hmmm. Here's a thought: Ask them to sign a waiver stating that the
company understands the risks of asking you to prepare these documents,
that you are not an attorney and are completely unqualified to offer
legal counsel. See how they like *them* apples!

I have said it here before. I believe it is completely inappropriate for
employers to ask technical writers to create documents that have legal
ramifications unless the technical writer has a firm background in that
sort of thing.

That does not mean that writers should not participate in protecting the
intellectual property of the company, such as ensuring that copyrights
are included in code and documents and detailing the appropriate use of
trademarks. I do this kind of stuff all the time. Heck, I even just
completed the trademark applications. But I always have access to the

Lisa Wright


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