• Joel Ankney - Lawyer

How Blackline Drafts Help You Close Faster

Updated: May 17, 2020

A client recently suffered a lot of anxiety and used up a lot of time because he wasn't taking advantage of the benefits of the blackline drafts he received. Deal lawyers use the Track Changes or Compare feature in their word processing software to show additions and deletions to the deal documents as they are negotiated. It's a common courtesy to make negotiations and revisions transparent. Deletions are shown as strike-throughs or in the margin, and additions are shown by underlining.

My client received a contract that was almost 50 pages long. He took about four hours to read it the first time. We made some changes to the contract based on my review and his input, which were shown on a blackline draft. The buyer's attorney then made some changes to the contract in response to our edits, which also were shown on a new blackline draft. My client then spent another four hours reading the entire contract again. He was tired and full of anxiety about the prospect of having to read the entire contract over again every time someone made changes to it.

But here's the thing: he didn't have to start over each time he received a new draft. He could have saved time by focusing only on the changes in each new draft. As we negotiated and new blackline drafts were created, the number of changes to the documents steadily decreased until we had final documents to sign. Each time he received a new blackline draft with fewer changes, he would have spent less time reviewing it if he had simply focused on the blacklined portions of the document.

Perhaps my client didn't trust the attorneys, thinking the opposing attorney might try to slip a change into a document without blacklining it. Deal lawyers typically won't risk damaging their reputation by doing something like that, however, because they want to be trusted to close the deal. 

The moral of this story is that you can save time and anxiety and close your deal faster by using blacklining to your advantage.

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