"Be personable and reasonable about what the business is looking to accomplish" — How I Contract Interview with Amanda Godlewski

how i contract interview May 08, 2024

We have had the great pleasure to interview Amanda Godlewski, Founder and Managing Partner at Godlewski Law PLLC.

This interview is part of the How I Contract interview series designed to offer various perspectives from experienced lawyers and contract professionals on what works in contracts in the real world.

 Let's dive in! 

How have your contract drafting techniques changed over the years? What did you stop doing? What did you start doing?

Over the years I’ve been more intentional with my drafting – taking the time to understand the business needs and chat through stakeholders’ desired outcomes.

Context is everything.

Having a deeper understanding of the end result the business is looking to achieve will more fully inform you on what your main focus should be.

Everything exists on a risk spectrum.

Although you may want a “perfect” contract with your exact, preferred language included, a “good,” “risk-minimized,” and ”executed” agreement is far more important for the business.

What's your biggest lesson learned in contracts?

Even though you are working with a document, this is a people profession and effectively negotiating requires a human touch.

Drafting is half the battle, negotiating and closing on your desired terms is where the real work is.

If you could share just one practical, real-life contract tip, what would that be?

Pick up the phone!

I know that we are all very busy contracting professionals.

However, if you have a particularly complex agreement or a contract that is high-priority for the business, talk through it with your counterparty.

Be personable and reasonable about what the business is looking to accomplish.

I’ve found that adding the human element into the process can oftentimes have a positive impact and result in your favored terms being accepted by the counterparty.

What mistakes should contract lawyers and professionals avoid when working with contracts? How would you avoid them?

If you are working with a complex agreement — do not just send your redlines to the counterparty without any reasoning for the edits.

Adding comments to the margins and specifically addressing your concerns with the original language and what you are trying to achieve with your counter-language will provide context to your counterparty and can assist with persuading them to accept your proposals.

At the least, it creates a dialogue that encourages some back and forth to get the language to a place both sides can agree on.

You do not want a redlined agreement to sit with the counterparty for weeks or months because there has been a lack of communication as to each party’s unique business needs.

Are there any simple hacks our readers can use right away to improve their contract drafting and negotiation skills?

Educate yourself!

You used to have to read a ton of agreements to better understand what was standard language for each or create your own list of preferred contracting language.

Now with How to Contract, you have access to courses, experts, and contracting resources, such as checklists and playbooks, to craft the best language.

If you could give a shoutout to one (or more) person who has influenced your life in contracts (or is your mentor), who would that be?

I had a general counsel, during my first in-house role, who took the time and effort to mentor me.

She was hands-on in teaching me the ins and outs of contract drafting.

We spent a lot of hours sitting at a little round table going over my proposed redlines — with her offering her proposed redlines and comments as to why.

That commitment accelerated my learning and gave me the ability to confidently handle contracts autonomously.

Her training provided me with the foundational knowledge to efficiently and effectively contract.

Who should we interview next? Why?

Ana-Paola “AP” Capaldo-Aoun is Assistant General Counsel at TD SYNNEX, one of the world’s largest distributors of technology products, services, and solutions, and currently ranked at No. 64 on the Fortune 500®.

In her career, she’s been the youngest in-house lawyer, the youngest director, and the youngest assistant general counsel. Her leadership extends outside of her legal role, as the chair of Fuerza – TD SYNNEX’s Hispanic business resource group, and a volunteer as a pro bono attorney with Catholic Charities Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami, Inc.


Thank you very much, Amanda!


Want to learn more about how other experienced lawyers and professionals excel at contracts in the real world? Check out these interviews.

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