Melody Kramer


Melody A. Kramer is a veteran trial lawyer and activist for positive change in the legal profession (making lawyers useful again). She has handled business litigation in state and federal courts in California and other jurisdictions for over 20 years, as well as negotiating and drafting business contracts collectively worth over $20M. She will be teaching a course on “Writing Killer Contracts (for yourself and for your clients).”

Melody started her own solo law practice in Lincoln, Nebraska, just two years after graduating from law school, tackling criminal defense, juvenile law, business litigation, and any other work that came her way in those early years, including a stint as a Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Children on the Omaha Indian Reservation. Along the way, she honed her abilities as a creative and vigorous advocate for her clients’ legal rights.

In 1999, Melody relocated to California and turned her focus to complex civil litigation matters, including patent infringement litigation and licensing efforts on behalf of a small research and development firm in San Diego. She currently works with startup businesses providing them with a sound legal foundation.

In the past few years, Melody has turned her efforts towards helping other lawyers navigate the challenges of being a practicing attorney in changing economic times. In 2006 she founded (the first of its kind network bringing lawyers and freelance legal professionals together) and co-founded the National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals (creating a community of legal freelancers around the country). In 2013 she founded Legal Greenhouse as a protective place for innovative ideas to be “grown” to a point where they are ready to launch into the bigger business world.

Melody is also a speaker and author of the recently released book “Why Lawyers Suck! Hacking the Legal System, Part 1,” a sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, expose designed to take the mystery and fear away from clients dealing with their lawyers.

You can also find Melody on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and

Syllabus – Writing Killer Contracts


Creating Killer Contracts is the essential guide to writing agreements that your clients will be happy to sign, and that their clients will be happy to sign, and that dramatically reduce the likelihood of eventual lawsuits over contract disputes. Revisit the essentials of a legally enforceable contract, and then learn the optimum structure for a well-written contract. Practice these steps in going through creation of a contract for you own legal practice, and then learn how to work with clients to draft great contracts for them.

An outline of the course is detailed below. Click here to read the full syllabus (PDF).

Session #1 – Contract Essentials

  • Back to Basics
  • What is a contract? What is not a contract?
  • Proposals, gifts, & contracts
  • Three requirements of an enforceable contract
  • Prohibitions on contracts
  • Writing for Real People
  • Anatomy of a well-written business contract
  • Escaping legalese
  • Formal, informal, and casual contracts
  • Contracts as part of branding and marketing

Session #2 – Practicing on Your Own Legal Services Contract, Part 1

  • “Sandwich Method” of contract drafting
  • Parties and signature blocks
  • How/where/when contract can be interpreted
  • Purpose (fka Recitals)
  • Term and scope of obligations
  • Identifying back & forth flow of relationship
  • Formatting for ease of reading
  • Payments and other client duties

Session #3 – Practicing on Your Own Legal Services Contract, Part 2

  • Ending the relationship
  • P.I.T.A. clauses
  • Term of agreement
  • Authority to terminate relationship
  • Procedure for termination
  • Miscellaneous provisions
  • Statutorily required statements
  • How contract will be interpreted
  • Where and by whom any dispute will be resolved
  • Ownership of IP
  • Definitions
  • Ensuring clarity of the entire contract
  • Common misunderstandings in this type of contract
  • Final assembly of agreement & signatures

Session #4 – Creating Contracts for Your Business Clients, Part 1

  • Everyone needs contracts
  • Entry point for relationship with business clients
  • Good, bad, and ugly of template contracts
  • How to price your work
  • Flat fees, always
  • Building a continuing business relationship
  • First client meeting
  • Understanding the client’s business
  • Importance of the entire business structure
  • Identifying other contract needs
  • Who is going to be reading contract?
  • Understanding your clients culture and brand
  • How to write in their voice, not a lawyer’s voice

Session #5 – Creating Contracts for Your Business Clients, Part 2

  • First draft
  • Follow anatomy of great contract
  • Demonstrating you understand your client’s business
  • Industry-specific clauses
  • Mutual perfection of draft contract with your client
  • Going above and beyond
  • Setting up for ease of use of contract
  • How to set up electronic signature platform

Session #6 – Using Contract Expertise to Build Your Law Practice

  • Building business clients for life
  • What business clients need
  • Litigation and avoiding litigation
  • Workshops, webinars, and teaching opportunities
  • Blogs and newsletters