Koncision Prototype Released for Testing (Including Thoughts About ContractExpress)

Koncision Contract Automation moved an important step closer to reality today, as I’ve just released a prototype for testing. The prototype is a one-way due-diligence confidentiality agreement; it will be tested by the confidentiality agreement editorial board. (Sorry, I won’t be releasing it for broader testing.) I’ll then adjust the prototype in various ways to fill out the confidentiality-agreement product line for the U.S. market.

Taking this step prompted me to adjust the note at the top of the home page. Instead of referring to “early 2011,” it now says “First Product Launching by March 31, 2011.” That’s the timeframe I always had in mind.

I’ve been working on the prototype pretty solidly for the past month. As you might have noticed from recent blog posts, for part of the time I’ve been wrestling with substantive issues.

But I’ve also spent a lot of time marking up the Word version of the prototype language to make it readable by ContractExpress, the document-assembly technology that will power Koncision’s products. For those not familiar with ContractExpress, it’s an online document-assembly system developed by Business Integrity for use by law firms and law departments. Contract specialists such as myself use the ContractExpress Author add-in for Word to create automated templates to run in ContractExpress on intranet, extranet, SharePoint, or in the cloud (like Koncision).

I’ve had to learn on the fly how ContractExpress works. It’s been an edifying process. I’ve long been a booster of document assembly in general and ContractExpress in particular, but from the sidelines. I can now confirm that ContractExpress is amazingly intuitive and sophisticated. For everything I’ve needed to do, ContractExpress offers the necessary functionality.

For example, if a given section contains four optional tabulated enumerated clauses and the user chooses to use only one of them, that clause will no longer be tabulated and enumerated; instead, has to be wrapped in with the introductory language. And if the user chooses none of them, the whole section has to disappear. With ContractExpress, you can easily accomplish that.

And if the user specifies that one party is incorporated in Delaware and the other in Ohio, the first has to be referred to as “a Delaware corporation” and the other as “an Ohio corporation.” With ContractExpress, it’s a straightforward matter to arrange that too.

But as your markup gets more complex, document assembly can become challenging. With ContractExpress you don’t need a programmer, but you do need to be able to think logically. That’s not a shortcoming of ContractExpress—it’s a document-assembly fact of life. And it reflects how contract language is compiled.

For my markup, I needed to learn perhaps 25% of ContractExpress’s functionality. But because Koncision products are intended for a broad range of users, I suspect that I had to provide for more choices than does the average ContractExpress user—the questionnaire for the Koncision prototype contains over one hundred potential questions, although any given user would end up answering considerably fewer questions than that. Keeping track of a markup reflecting options within options within options presented the occasional challenge, and periodically I had to set the document aside for a day to allow my addled brain to recuperate.

But Business Integrity’s support staff were very gracious about fielding my dopey questions. I’m well along on the learning curve, and I’ve done most of the heavy lifting required for the confidentiality-agreement product line.

One obvious question is, what do I think of the whole notion of Koncision Contract Automation, now that the first product is taking shape. The answer is that I’m too immersed in it to be able to say. That’s why I have the confidentiality agreement editorial board, and I’ll be very interested to hear their views.

By the way, if you’re interested in document assembly generally or ContractExpress in particular, starting at noon EST on Friday, January 28, Business Integrity will be holding a webinar to look at how law firms use ContractExpress, including, I’m told, a peek at an exciting new feature it will be launching at LegalTech New York. To register for the webinar, go here. Now that I’m a committed user, I’ll certainly be taking part.

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.