The latest episode of Bob Ambrogi’s LawNext podcast features Chas Rampenthal (general counsel at LegalZoom) and me. (It’s here on embed.ly and here on iTunes, and go here for some extracts.) In this episode, Bob breaks the news—I’m not suggesting it’s earth-shattering!—that I’ve joined Pulse, a company backed by LegalZoom. More specifically, I’m now head of contracts at Pulse, where we are creating solutions for small businesses.
I’ll leave you to listen to the podcast for the broader background. Here’s some basic information.
Why am I doing this, after 13 years of being on my own? I had always planned that my work on contract language would be a means to an end, not an end unto itself.
To turn contract drafting into a high-quality commodity process, you need comprehensive guidelines for contract language. So in 1996, I started work on creating guidelines. A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting became the primary repository for my guidelines.
From the get-go I had kept my eyes open for a potential partner with whom I could build an alternative to copy-and-pasting, but I found no takers. That’s because the obvious players either lacked resources or were heavily invested in the current dysfunction. But with publication of the fourth edition of MSCD, my search took on greater urgency. My work on the guidelines was largely done. If there ever was a time to get to work building automated contracts, that time was now.
Last September I listened to Bob’s previous podcast with Chas (here), and that set me thinking. Bob kindly agreed to introduce me to Chas. As a result, I’ve found a suitable partner. One that has financial and marketing muscle. One that isn’t afraid to shake things up.
But for the foreseeable future, you won’t notice much difference. I’ll still continue researching and writing. I’ll still do public and in-house seminars. (This week, Massachusetts; next week, Denmark; next month, Chile.) And I’ll still be an advisor to LegalSifter—I want to be involved in both contract creation and contract review.
The main change is that I won’t be doing the sort of consulting I’ve being doing in recent years. That’s something of a relief, as piecemeal bespoke drafting is way less efficient than creating customizable automated temples. And year after year, a significant proportion of my clients have choked on the change inherent in what I offered them. But wearing my Pulse hat, I’ll be on the lookout for projects that involve systemic change.
Regarding Pulse, you’ll have to be patient. After all, we’re starting from scratch—that’s what made it possible for me to join them.