[Updated 18 August 2021: I belatedly remembered that I refer to this page at the end of the introduction to the fourth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. It might have been relevant then, but now it is irrelevant. For one thing, I no longer do consulting. My automated NDA is now, once more, in the garage, under a tarpaulin!]
Longtime readers will recall my confidentiality agreement template, automated using Contract Express.
It allows users to create a highly customized confidentiality agreement for use in M&A, employment, or a broad range of commercial contexts. The language complies with my guidelines. The annotations provide detailed guidance. It’s a highly sophisticated piece of contract automation. It’s way better than anything else out there. And I wager it’s way better than anything a company could create on their own or have a law firm create.
I launched it in 2011 and took it down in 2014. Well, now it’s back, tweaked and updated. But this time, it’s only for my consulting clients. And if you want to use it, you have to be a lawyer or be represented by counsel. That’s because I’m a consulting business, not a law firm.
Here’s how it’s going to work, at least initially: You would contact me to schedule a screen-sharing session. You would spend half an hour going through the questionnaire with me or one of my helpers, after which we’d send you the output document.
I’d charge you $1,500 for this service. I’m not interested in selling to those looking for an NDA for next to nothing or, even better, nothing. Instead, this service is for organizations that want to a top-quality customized template at a bargain price.
It’s a system I’ve already used with my consulting clients. Here’s a testimonial from the general counsel of a mid-size pharmaceuticals company:
Ken streamlined the drafting process and made sure we ended up with a template that works for us. Working collaboratively from his automated template, we were able to discuss and consider each available option in real-time to determine what provisions were best for our company’s situation. Our new template is a great improvement over our old “Biglaw” template—it is now easier for our core operational teams to understand and use, without sacrificing any of the key legal protections we need in our agreements.
Using a screen-sharing session would address a complaint I heard often from people using the template: “It asks too many questions!” Well, if you want a custom product, you have to be willing to answer more than a minimal number of questions. But with guidance from me or one of my helpers, you’d go through the questionnaire much more quickly than you would if you were completing it on your own.
My market research suggests that $1,500 is a reasonable price to charge for what is in effect a hybrid. It’s not bespoke drafting, but you’re not buying a static Word document either. Instead, you get to drive a sophisticated template, with me or one of my helpers to guide you. I think of it as custom-commodity drafting. Clients have paid me more than $1,500 for a confidentiality agreement, but I’m now looking to serve organizations that wouldn’t want to pay the rates I charge for bespoke drafting.
For $500 a year, you can also subscribe for updates: anytime I revise the underlying template to reflect changes in the law or deal practices or for any other reason, I would notify you.
And for $2,500, you can use the template to jump-start automated contract automation. Instead of expending resources to build your own template just so you can see whether automated contract creation is right for you, you could use a stripped down version of my template and a free trial of Contract Express. If you like what you see, you could license my template for $5,000 a year (with the $2,500 initial fee applied against the first year’s license fee). (If you want to customize my template, I’d charge a consulting fee.)
If enough people like this approach, I’ll expand it by offering other templates. Next up would be a suite of employment-related documents. Also, I’d establish a separate website with a scheduling function and other bells and whistles. I think this approach could offer at a reasonable price what so far no one else has come close to offering: top-quality contracts.
So there you have it. If you’d like to give it a whirl, contact me.