Strategic Legal Writing for Managers

by Prof Catherine Tay

Why You Should Attend This Course

This course is about legally protective writing strategies. Nobody gets it right first time. Writing in a strategic way is as important as oral statements. Strategic legal writing is critical for solving commercial and business or engineering disputes and winning legal battles. This course gives a wide range of topics that arise in everyday tasks in a business and commercial setting. It gives to the non-expert matters relating to drafting contracts and writing letters.

When in doubt and before you write your final draft in your office, check the dictionary and then the legal dictionary. Some letters are not easily readable. Lay readers cannot understand certain documents. It all boils down to “clarity” – using plain simple English in writing letters, office memos or documents.

What to avoid when writing documents and letters? How to draft documents? Learn the modern style to write clearly, properly and effectively in this 1-day course, which will take you through the effective strategies for a better writing of your letters and documents. Choosing the right word to write is ever so important, but also watch out for problem words with multiple meanings. Learn what works and what doesn’t.

  • Write in a strategic and winning way
  • Write in a practical, tactical and focused manner
  • Rely on boilerplate precedents
  • Write Plain English for maximum effectiveness
  • General Principles of Legal Writing and Drafting Letters, Memoranda and Reports

Writing Commercial Contracts

  • legalese vs. simple english
  • know your reader
  • decide on what to say; keep your ideas in check
  • grammar, style, correctness, meaning, spelling and organisation
  • use present tense and shorter words
  • use definitions
  • write in paragraphs
  • be consistent
  • avoid repetition
  • be careful of muddled sentences
  • sentence structure
    – avoid sentence fragments
    – avoid run-on sentences
    – eliminate redundancies
    – avoid incorrect deletions
    – use sentence structure for emphasis
  • watch out for problem words with multiple meanings or special legal meanings, vague words or confusing pairs
  • avoid negatives – why prefer the active to the passive voice?
  • how to make passive verbs active?
  • the power of punctuation
  • how to write effective letters and formal documents
  • factual instructional or informative
  • persuasive, influencing and advising
  • form, style and layout conventions
  • heading and numbering
  • tone, politeness and humanity
  • retain composure on paper
  • prompt response
  • voice of assurance
  • without prejudice letters
  • subject to contract
  • internal notes and memo
  • preparing memos, briefs and minutes
  • avoid legalese, archaic language
  • choose the right word
  • use of dictionary and legal dictionary
  • reasoning – writing a case analysis
  • preparing and organising an office memo

Practical Clauses

  • definitions and interpretation
  • commencement and termination
  • confidentiality and disclosures
  • intellectual property rights
  • standard warranties, guarantees and indemnities
  • exclusions of liability
  • liquidated damages clause
  • severability clause
  • retention of title
  • service of notices
  • whole agreement and variation clauses
  • novation
  • dispute

Structure of Standard Commercial Agreement

  • commencement
  • recitals
  • operative part
  • definitions
  • conditions precedent
  • boiler-plates
  • schedules
  • appendix
  • execution

Prof Catherine Tay Swee Kian has more than 35 years of experience lecturing law as Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, Department of Strategy & Business Policy.  She is a Barrister-at-law from Lincoln’s Inn, United Kingdom.  Prof Tay is also an Advocate & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore and an author of several books including her best seller books on Contract Law and Director Duties & Corporate Governance.

Prof Tay studied law at Queen Mary College, University of London and graduated with an honours degree in Bachelor of Laws and a degree in Master of Laws, in which she specialised in Company, Shipping, Insurance and Marine Insurance laws.  She was called to the English Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1978.  She did her pupillage under the Honourable Lady Mary Hogg in London and returned to Singapore in the law firm of Rodyk & Davidson. 

Prof Tay won the Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par Memorial Prize for the overall best student in 1980 during her postgraduate practical law course in Singapore. She was called to the Singapore Bar in 1980. 

Prof Tay is currently a member of the National Healthcare Group Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Domain Specific Review Board tasked to review the scientific and ethical aspects of research protocols since 2002.  She received her 15 Long Service Award from NHG IRB in 2018.  She is also currently a member of the Centralised Institutional Review Board (IRB), Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd tasked to review clinical protocols for human subject experimentation.  A/Prof Tay was a member of SingHealth Polyclinics IRB since 2003.  She received her 10 years Long Service Award from Singhealth Centralised Institutional Review Board in October 2019. 

Prof Tay was also a member of the Research & Ethics Committee of Alexandra Hospital. She was also the medical-legal adviser of the Institute of Mental Health / Woodbridge Hospital. She was a member of the panel for lay persons for the National Transplant Ethics Committee, Ministry of Health in 2009-2011.

Prof Tay was on the Board of Overseas Editors for the (United Kingdom) Journal of Financial Crime, an official publication of the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime.  She has presented numerous papers at many conferences and seminars on Business Law, Medical Law, Company and Insolvency Laws both overseas and in Singapore.  She is an examiner on law subjects for a number of professional bodies in Singapore and overseas.

Prof Tay conducts in-house customised corporate programmes and seminars / workshops for commercial firms, banks, hotels, hospitals, statutory boards and companies, clubs and associations on topics such as contract management; corporate governance in both public and private sectors including public-private partnership contracts; tender bids bidding in procurement contracts; service level agreements and tenancy agreements. For over 7 years annually, she was the Programme Director, for a Singapore-Commonwealth Third Country Training Programme, Singapore-Commonwealth Advance Seminar for Chief Executives 28 May – 7 June 2008, jointly sponsored by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation Commonwealth Secretariat London, United Kingdom at Training Institution – National University of Singapore Business School.

Prof Tay has supervised medical students in electives on Medical ethics & medico-legal subjects at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, and also for University of Manchester at Singapore Polytechnic. She also lectured nursing students in nursing law and ethics at the NUS Alice School of Nursing as well as in Nanyang Polytechnic. She has lectured medical law and biomedical ethics in the NUS Faculty of Dentistry for more than 15 years. She has lectured in executive training courses at the NUS Extension in professional and business management law courses for over 34 years.  A/Prof Tay was the external examiner on medical law ethics at the Hong Kong University, Law Faculty (2007-2008).

Prof Tay was a Visiting Consultant and adjunct lecturer at the Institute of System Science, NUS for over 16 years lecturing IT outsourcing contracts, intellectual property and contract law. She gave lectures in Industrial Relations and Labour laws at the Ong Teng Cheong Institute of Labour Studies for over 12 years on labour laws in industrial relations. She was also the local teaching affiliate lecturing business law for Adelaide University, Australia.  A/Prof Tay is the Honourable Legal Advisor for Singapore Optometric Association, as well as for the Singapore Institute of Engineering Technologists.

Prof Tay lectures on “The Legislature, Policy Formulation & Implementation for Good Governance” to Ministers from Nigeria, Kaduna State Legislators” on 16-18 April 2018 at Singapore 2018 Capacity Building Retreat at Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) Professional Development. She also lectures on “Leadership & Governance” to Legislators from Kenya, 21-22 May 2018 at SIM Professional Development. She also lectures Public-Private Partnerships (PPP contracts) and joint ventures to global audience. She gave lectures several times on Corporate Governance to bankers from Uzbekistan.


23 Sep 2021
17 Dec 2021

Course Fee


The class offers in-class or virtual learning
  • Time: 9am – 5pm
  • SDF Available (Non-WSQ) Code: CRS-N-0030624
  • SkillsFuture Credit eligible
  • MIS Member enjoy 10% Discount
  • Register for 8 or more participants to enjoy 10% Group Discount