How to create contracts people want to read and sign

Richard Mabey, CEO and co-founder, Juro

Think back to the last time you had to deal with legal processes – whether it was reading through lengthy terms and conditions, or printing, signing, and scanning a contract with a wet signature. Chances are, your experience with legal in these situations hasn’t been a positive one. Most people typically see legal processes as being boring at best, difficult and frustrating at worst.

As the industry slowly embraces change, in-house legal teams are becoming more approachable, friendly, and ‘human’ – showcasing their value as strategic business partners in the company.

Most solutions towards becoming more ‘human’ involve the implementation of technology – but if you’re the sole counsel at a high-growth scaleup, for example, then you likely have a limited budget and resource towards buying and adopting new technology.

Lawyers can instead demonstrate this change and add value to the wider business by making small changes to the way they work, without having to start a huge tech adoption project at all.

Contracts, for example, are one of the most common touchpoints between business teams – from the non-disclosure agreements, people may send to cover confidentiality issues, to the employment offer letters people and talent teams send to new employees.

Legal can make contracts more human by making small changes to the document itself, such as:

  1. The details

Contracts tend to hide important details between barriers of text, making it difficult for the counterparty to find key information. This slows down the time it takes them to sign, and delays business, causing frustration between teams and potentially alienating the counterparty altogether.

We all know what they say about first impressions – make sure you set a positive first impression by changing the way you provide information in a document. Make sure the most important details are both easy to find, and easy to read. The quicker the counterparty can access and understand the information, the less time it’ll take to get a signature on the dotted line.

  1. The language

Your contract language should reflect the business’ tone of voice, but unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. Contracts are often riddled with legal jargon and complex clauses, making it difficult for anyone without a legal background to understand the information – if they decide to read it at all.

Contracts that are easy to read spend less time bouncing back and forth between parties in negotiations. Through a simple change, like altering contract language to be clear, concise, and friendly, you can make a huge difference.

  1. The structure

Most of us have had to read through a contract in our lifetime, and most of us can confirm …  it wasn’t an exciting experience. Contracts tend to be text-heavy, and full of legalese, making the whole process painful for the counterparty or candidate.

Instead, make sure your legal documents both stand out from the crowd and reflect the nature of the wider business by:

  • Adding the company logo – both yours and the counterparty’s
  • Adding images and GIFs
  • Linking to additional information, instead of including it all in a single document
  • Personalizing the contract

All these minor changes will impact the way your counterparty reacts to the contract – turning it from an obligatory legal process to something they actually want to read and sign.

Automating your contracts

Soon enough, legal may have enough resources and budget to implement legal technology. Contract automation is a great place to start – a contract automation platform can replace all the separate systems you use for your end-to-end process (from Word to emails, to Slack messages) and instead ensure the business has a unified workspace in which to agree and manage contracts.

Features like templating can help legal teams make their contracts more engaging and welcoming, while also enabling other teams to self-serve. In a remote working environment, this is invaluable – a single source of truth for your contracts ensures that there’s standardization across the business, so legally doesn’t have to worry about teams freestyling terms or using outdated versions of a document.

Making changes to the way legal works doesn’t need to be a huge, disruptive project – in fact, through small changes, legal can add value to the wider business and make a huge impact as an enabler and a strategic partner.

Related Articles

Back to top button