Plain Language Standard

Start as you mean to go on — with clarity

Woman in pink blazer holds crumpled paper

Verity White of Checklist Legal believes plain language builds trust in client relationships | Photo courtesy of Checklist Legal

For a small-to-medium business, working with people who have similar values and goals is really important. Building a lasting and valuable client relationship relies on trust, and from the client’s perspective, that relationship starts at the point of engagement. So Verity White of Checklist Legal decided she wanted really clear documents to start off the client relationship.

She drafted the documents herself but decided to get some external help from Write and WriteMark. That way she could be doubly sure the client would know what they were signing up to and the relationship would start off on the right foot.

Checklist Legal makes legal advice clear

Verity’s company is all about taking the stress and confusion away from legal situations. One of the main ways she achieves that is through her clear, easy-to-understand advice. She creates readable documents that help her clients achieve their business goals.

Contracts are a core part of a business and reflect the way a business builds a client relationship. Verity is passionate about the ways that clear contracts support client connection and engagement, representing an authentic brand voice, so that the contracts feel like something that belongs to the business. That’s why achieving the WriteMark felt so important to Verity and Checklist Legal.

Verity tells her story below.

Using the ‘Rewrite’ principles to achieve clarity and develop trust

I first came across Write when I attended the plain language conference in Wellington, New Zealand in 2016. I absolutely fell in love with Write as a plain language organisation and with their Rewrite for Change programme. I knew I wanted to be involved with them in some way, shape, or form! And it took launching my own boutique law firm to make that opportunity come about.

Start as you mean to go on — with clarity WriteMark

Verity White of Checklist Legal was inspired by plain language principles to apply them to her own business | Photo courtesy of Checklist Legal

I thought my engagement documents were pretty good. I had met a bunch of the readability criteria that I had set for myself in creating them, as well worked on the information design. And then I got some really helpful feedback from the Write team, and they helped me refine things a little bit further.

Getting an independent peer review

Camilla Anderson, one of my other plain language and visual contracting heroes. always says that if you had two people speaking French and you wanted to simplify French into a different language, you wouldn’t get French people who only speak French to simplify that language.

So when it comes to simplifying legal writing, having someone else take a look at your own legal writing is often a great approach. It gives you a fresh eye, and it is that trained professional view that I really appreciated from having Write go through the documents. Of course, the ultimate decision on the legal bits and pieces of the documents sits with me. But I really appreciated the advice and patience of the Write team, as we worked through the finer points of the wording together.

Walking the talk by achieving the WriteMark and other certification

I wanted to be able to show that I was walking the walk and talking the talk when it comes to plain language, which I think is really important for law firms. A lot of law firms claim to be writing in plain language, but they really don’t go to the effort of getting their documents checked out fully. And I think that’s shown by the fact that Checklist Legal is the first law firm in Australia to have certified its plain language engagement documents with Write.

In very exciting news, Checklist Legal has recently become a certified B Corp! And I’ve published my new book called Create Contracts Clients Love — the title says it all really!

Check out Veritys book called Create Contracts Clients Love

Find out about Checklist Legals B Corp impact

Find out about Checklist Legals pro bono programme