Teaching the basics

IP Draughts has been out and about in the last few weeks, teaching practitioners. He has given in-house talks in Cambridge and London, and has further trips lined up for Oxfordshire and Southampton.

The students have been a mixture of university administrators, commercial managers and lawyers. They have  mostly seemed to appreciate the information that IP Draughts was able to impart. Over time, demand for his courses is showing a steady increase.

IP Draughts has reflected on what makes his courses successful. He puts it down to understanding the basics really well. Throughout his career, whenever he has come across a new subject, he has tried to get beneath the surface and understand not just what practitioners do, but what the underlying legal issue or principle is, and whether common practice is aligned with the legal principle. Spend an extra 30 minutes on each new subject to understand it better, and after 35 years of practice you build up a fair amount of knowledge. Surprisingly, many people get through life without that level of curiosity. Or they are in pressurised jobs where their employer doesn’t give them that extra 30 minutes.

This curiosity led him to write several books, and now leads him to teach those basics to others. He is sure that he is not unique among professionals in always wanting to learn more about his subject. Many experienced professionals have acquired a vast amount of knowledge on apparently small subjects.

Take, for example, the subject of execution of deeds, which this blog has mentioned before. In fact, we wrote a book called Execution of Documents, published by the Law Society, which is now in its third edition and covers the subject of deeds in some detail.

Students on IP Draughts’ courses have a varied knowledge of deeds, at least before they attend the course. Deeds raise many practical issues that are relevant to commercial agreements, such as:

  • what is a deed?
  • when must I use a deed?
  • when can I choose to use a deed? what are the legal advantages of doing so?
  • what alternatives are there to using a deed, e.g. by including nominal consideration?
  • what formalities are required for a deed, e.g. in the use of signature blocks?
  • when must a seal be used on a deed? where do organisations such as universities and NHS Trusts keep their seals? Who must witness their use?
  • is it possible to arrange electronic signature of deeds?
  • how does an overseas party execute a deed?
  • do other countries use deeds? what is their closest equivalent?

And so on. Usually, IP Draughts doesn’t cover all of these topics in a talk when the subject of deeds arises. But there are a few basic points that are worth making, e.g. that he has seen multiple examples of City law firms making a serious mistake when prepare deeds for execution by universities, because they fail to realise that universities must still use their seal, and that a signature block that is typically used for a Companies Act company is not appropriate.

IP Draughts also likes to get to the bottom of really complex legal issues, and he regularly writes peer-reviewed journal articles about them. Advanced-level research and writing attracts more professional or academic kudos. But he thinks that understanding and teaching the basics is what really matters.



Filed under courses and training, Legal practice

2 responses to “Teaching the basics

  1. ginabicknell

    And I’m so glad you write these books on “basics,” Mark! No matter what one’s PQE level is, having a trusted reference to hand that quickly explains (in plain English) what the legal issues are, with practical drafting tips, is invaluable.

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