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Making contracts delightful for non-attorneys

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Key Insights

Most people have never even considered the idea of law outside of government, but doing this can dramatically improve the experience that people have with law, making it more simple, easy, and just. It is like private arbitration but the law itself is a redesigned form of existing international common law.

SMB Service contracts are an interesting focus area because of the pains that are solvable with technology and redesigned law.

Research Notes

  • The focus on making contracts delightful is to zero in on how normal people, i.e. non-attorneys, experience law.  It is only through the possibilities of redefining the substance and procedure of law that enable Goodlaw to succeed in changing the user experience of law in general and the user experience of contracts specifically.  So while the mission is to enable voluntary law, the focus on contracts is what makes it possible.

  • We discovered that SMB IT Service Firms in particular have a lot of pain around contracts with clients.  They pitch their clients on removing complexity from their lives and then hand them a 30 page, super-complicated contract to sign:

    1. it's hard to read and understand

    2. their lawyers want it tilted in their favor but they want it balanced

    3. it feels like a bad first step in a client relationship

  • Distributed ledger technology combined with modularization is one way to enable clarity in what parts of contracts are boilerplate and what parts are unique to the particular situation.  In the Sample Contract,  boilerplate sections are in grey and customized sections are in white to make it easy for the reader.  Validation on a ledger shows that the terms have not been modified.

  • It turns out that contracts in Germany are much shorter because many of the terms are baked directly into German Law.   This suggests that law can be redesigned to improve the overall usability of contracts.  If every contract ends up having the same term, that term should likely be baked into the system rather than get repeated every time.

  • In many business-to-business contract negotiations, one side agrees to start with the contract of the other side's attorneys, but after paying the attorneys on both sides lots of money they end up at the same place they always do, which is a balance between the two and not favoring one or the other.  Why can't they save the trouble and just start there?

  • There is an interesting push toward "Plain English" in contracts.  Making contracts more user-friendly to non-attorneys will likely include both language and graphic improvements.

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