Adventures in Document Assembly

I’ve spent most of the past three months creating Koncision’s confidentiality-agreement template. It has been quite an experience.

I started with zero knowledge of ContractExpress. I’ve long been a booster of ContractExpress, but my understanding was rather, um, theoretical. So Koncision was based on a gamble that I’d be able to figure out how to use ContractExpress. That turned out to be the case, but it wasn’t preordained.

I was able to get the hang of ContractExpress for two reasons. First, it’s intuitive. And second, it’s logic-driven, and so is my approach to contract drafting. (At least that’s what I’d like to think—witness my fondness for comparing contract language to software code.) I’m willing to believe that lawyers with a more fluid approach to how you construct a contract might have a tougher time.

Most ContractExpress customers use it for contracts geared to the needs of a given organization. By contrast, I had to build a confidentiality-agreement template suitable for all kinds of transactions. That made it complicated, sufficiently so that Tim Allen of Business Integrity took to referring to it as “the Ferrari.” To give you a sense of what was involved in marking up the Word document to reflect all the permutations, below is a screen shot of a representative part of the markup.

But saying that I got the hang of ContractExpress doesn’t quite capture the flavor of it. For one thing, once the document started getting complicated, I found that working with it was an all-or-nothing proposition—unless I immersed myself in it, I’d bounce off it. And after working on it for a few days, I’d need a couple of days off.

The fact that the markup is complex doesn’t mean that completing a Koncision questionnaire is a complicated process. To the contrary—the markup complexity is the result of my wanting to ensure that a broad range of users will be presented with a clear questionnaire tailored to their needs.

I would have gotten nowhere in all this without the help of Business Integrity’s support personnel and management. They cheerfully gave me more tutorials than I had any right to expect.

So I’m now a ContractExpress fanboy. It handled everything I threw at it, and I’ve still just scratched the surface of its functionality. I hope the software and I have a long and happy relationship.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.