Information about Weagree, and vacancies

Internship for excellent law student

THE FOLLOWING VACANCY IS CLOSED (June 2014):

UPDATE: The vacancy is filled successfully. Persons interested to work for Weagree can still apply to join our enthusiastic, passionate team.

The student will work on the finalisation of our book, training and examination materials on cross-border contracting, which materials will be used in training workshops and courses for the 50 LDC’s (the least developed countries worldwide).

The work includes a review of various specific legal topics (a quick scan of paragraphs related to cross-border payments, documentary credit, Vienna Convention CISG, and intellectual property law, as well as an actualisation of the paragraph on antitrust/competition law). You must have a good understanding of competition law (i.e. focus is on ordinary course contracting where dominant market position in manufacturing, resale, R&D research etc. might be questioned) demonstrated by either having passed your exam successfully or by being in the midst of such courses.

You will undertake this review in collaboration with and under supervision of Willem Wiggers.

The internship may include other work for Weagree, related to contract drafting and document automation. The review work will presumably take an overseeably limited period of time. The work must be done at our offices in Amsterdam.

For more information, contact Willem Wiggers (+31 6 461 555 08, ww@weagree.com).

Vacancies * Smart Law Students *

SMART LAW STUDENTS
vacancy

We are hiring smart law school students, who will be available regularly during the forthcoming year or two. Ideally, you are a third year law student. Potentially, your future employer is amongst our customers.

Our students…
…are ambitious, communicative team players with an independent, creative mind.

  • You’re computer-wise (preferring keyboard shortcuts over mousing).
  • Your English is excellent.
  • You have succesfully written (university) bachelor exams on private (contract) law.
  • You’re authentically interested and eager to learn.

Disruptive and inspiring innovator
Weagree is changing an industry. With a focus on user-friendliness, our ‘Weagree Wizard’ relieves legal professionals of routine contract drafting work, helps companies control risk and improves their efficiency. Weagree’s contract assembly wizard creates contracts of the highest standard.

We enjoy being recognised as an expert on best practices of contract drafting, and like to inspire our customers by improving their quality of contracting. Weagree’s natural target customers are multinationals, large SMEs with cross-border activities, and law firms. We help them accelerate contract drafting. They are enthusiastic about our services.

Looking for
We like to work with ambitious students to support our customers. The work consists of inserting contract templates and related contract template questionnaires into the Weagree Wizard. You will conduct preparatory research and analysis work on model contracts.

Proposing
Initially, you will receive a few weeks of training during which you will become familiar with contracts and how to insert and modify contract templates in the Weagree Wizard. In your work, you can familiarise yourself with international commercial legal practice. You will see how top quality contracts are drafted. We will call upon you from time to time, as and when needed to meet our customers’ demand. Your work location will be at our offices in Amsterdam.

We kindly invite you to send your motivation letter and CV to: ww@weagree.com

Weagree Wizard: upgrade of the administrator tooling

Yesterday, we released a new software upgrade of the contract assembly wizard: version 3.5.0!

Especially for administrators, the new upgrade of the Weagree Wizard means a considerable upgrade.

Inserting templates will become more user-friendly. And we already know what “user-friendliness” means:

  • Simple and attractive. Highly intuitive interaction design, no abundance of explanatory notes. (You’re likely to see them only the first times, before they become distractive ‘noise’.) An attractive interface serves the considerable change-management challenges.
  • Giving a strong sense of being ‘in control: well-designed navigation, an underwaterscreen in which the contract appears real time.
  • Only seeing what is relevant.
  • Maximum flexibility.

For this upgrade, improved user-friendliness brings:

I.     On the New contracts page, templates can be accompanied by an explanatory note in the well-known info-icon.

II.     Three improvements of the Clause library:

  1. more flexibility to attach (explanatory) files to clauses.
  2. management of clauses has become easier.
  3. we included search functionality for the administrator.

III.     We replaced the entire ‘template creation tool’ (see the screenshot below):

  1. over 250 icons were replaced by new icons. Their design appeals more logically and intuitively to the functionality they trigger.
  2. copying text through the Microsoft notepad is unnecessary: all invisible, Word-originating clutter is filtered out automatically.
  3. icon text flags are more instructive.
  4. performance issues with super large templates have been solved.
  5. inserting cross-references has been optimised.
  6. building blocks (contract articles) can be converted into contract clauses (sections) and vice versa.
  7. clause names may now contain diacritic characters (such as: ‘, ” , & etc.) and be in Russian, Arabic and Chinese (etc.) characters.
  8. modifying tables is more flexible.
  9. the template navigation bar scrolls, focuses, and is redesigned.
  10. the Wizard-internal clipboard (for copy-paste) has been optimised.
  11. several administrator actions have been  simplified and automated.
  12. several ‘erroneous’ actions commonly made by less-experienced administrators are alerted automatically.

IV.     The order in which Schedules or Annexes appear in the contract can be modified.

V.      Text can be set in ALL-CAPS or Small-Caps (whilst inserted in underscores).

VI.     The screen that appears during contract generation is restyled and more dynamic. It gives the user a more convenient experience.

Here is a screenshot of the administrator’s ‘template creation tool’, where the model contract is inserted and the Q&A is added:

We have prepared the Weagree Wizard for our next roadmap steps. The current improvements make the Weagree Wizard a highly modularised, flexible application.

In the meantime, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Weagree: milestones, milestones, milestones

We are very happy to share that we are finalising the training materials for our project for the International Trade Centre (ITC, a joint agency of the U.N. and WTO). After completing a Cross-border contracting training programme, I was commissioned to add a chapter on intellectual property rights and draft three model contracts (an MOU, an NDA and a Trademark Licence). Apart from correction rounds, language review and translation work, our preparatory work for the ITC is now done!

But there is more to share about Weagree:

Weagree Wizard – new release
Two weeks ago, we released a software update of the Weagree Wizard. It marked the end of a development programme that started a year ago. Of all of last year’s updates, this one brought about the greatest performance and user-experience improvement. Contracts of up to 100 pages will be ‘questionnaired’ at a speed almost equal to that of a simple NDA. It makes us curious as to the current limits: will performance decrease with a contract of over 200 pages? Or with 350-plus pages?

We had planned this release for mid September, but our software engineers seem to be over-delivering – not unusually – which is putting us ahead of schedule. So the anticipated time of our roadmap-to-go is looking very promising.

Milestones of the past 12 months
Milestones achieved include:

  1. Significant performance improvements (Q&A speed)
  2. Enhanced user’s sense of being ‘in control’
  3. Improved underwater screen
  4. Improved clause library
  5. Multi-browser compatibility (also for iPhone and iPad)
  6. Strengthened workflow and approval functionalities
  7. An e-mail workflow alerting system
  8. Centralised ‘contract house style’ management
  9. Multi-language support (incl. Russian, Chinese and Hindi)
  10. Improved software release testing protocols

Our roll-out to 10,000+ users at our long-standing launching customer, ASML, (replacing their global NDA tool) confirmed that the Weagree Wizard is highly user-friendly: user-training is not needed. The implementation was realised without complications, but for the improvement of a few approver functionalities.

What’s next?
The update brings the Weagree Wizard to the next level. From here, we will expand the Q&A-capabilities relatively easily. We are planning to connect to contract lifecycle management and DMS solutions, and will introduce new, advanced Q&A-options (without compromising on user-friendliness).

Concerning product development, our focus will shift from the user-experience towards a dramatic simplification of the administrator function. (As if it is not already extraordinarily simple!) As yet, approximately six hours of initial training followed by some ten to fifteen hours of template coach is required. Whilst the six hours of training will probably remain the same, we anticipate that inserting a contract template will become much more intuitive, and open to less tech-savvy lawyers.

Weagree is growing
From now on, our first priority will be Weagree’s operational support. We are working hard at bringing Weagree to the next level: we have been formalising all our internal processes, we’re further improving the administrator support function, we’re discussing strategic partnerships, and we will intensify our communications and sales efforts. More about this in the next newsletter. Contact me if you would like to hear more about the details of our plans.

Newsletter – Free eBook: Making and managing model contracts

Weagree has reached two great milestones, which we want to celebrate by publishing a new free eBook: Making and managing model contracts.

1.  Drafting contracts has welcomed its 3,000th member
As you may know, we initiated the discussion group Drafting contracts on LinkedIn. In some five months, the group has evolved into an active community of over 3,000 members!

Legal professionals from around the world share their experiences on contract drafting. Have you ever wondered about some of the following?

  1. MOU’s, letters of intent and ‘pre-contracts’
  2. Penalty clauses (or liquidated damages): a global overview of local issues and particularities
  3. Which type of damages do you exclude in a contract? With contributions about the parameters of such clauses
  4. “Losses” vs. “damages”: several jurisdictions appear to treat them as entirely different concepts
  5. The use of plain English, or legal jargon
  6. Are you an ‘Andorian’? About writing and/or
  7. The tension between “notwithstanding” and “without prejudice”
  8. Another item triggering response: words and phrases you hate most
  9. Why is initialling pages desirable (or unnecessary)?
  10. Not unimportant: what happens after signing the agreement? Common errors and best practices

Understanding differences and similarities between national laws facilitates business and brings people together. Our community appears to be successful in creating such understanding in the area of contract drafting. This is something that makes me rejoice.

If you (or a colleague) have not joined the Drafting contracts group yet: click here (and on the LinkedIn page click “Join“).

2.  The Weagree Wizard has +10,000 users
The other milestone we reached a week ago: Weagree’s launching customer, ASML, replaced their NDA-tool with the Weagree Wizard: all employees and in-house subcontractors now create their NDA’s with the Weagree Wizard. This encompasses a group of about 12,000 users in all parts of the world. Obviously, share purchase agreements of 75 pages work equally well.

The launch went smoothly. An anecdote: a user, more acquainted with Chinese characters, filled in the field “short name” with the full address details of the counterparty (and skipped the neighbouring address fields). The Weagree Wizard is proving to be as user-friendly as we aimed for it to be.

For those who are interested: the Weagree Wizard is a true SAAS-solution (operating from our ISO-certified datacentre, with automated user identification (in jargon: ‘user-provisioning and authentication’)). It has an approval workflow (which can also be linked to external workflows) and it communicates with our customer’s e-mail server to alert about submitted requests or return the approved NDA (as PDF or Word-document).

3.  A new free Weagree eBook
To celebrate these milestones, Weagree has published a new eBook. Of course, the eBook is free. The topic of this eBook covers one of the key focuses of our LinkedIn group: Making and managing model contracts:

  • Ten steps to upgrading your model contracts
  • Contract drafting conventions (a sample)
  • Implementing contract assembly

The eBook gives practical suggestions, based on Weagree’s experience.

We hope you like the eBook. You can download it by clicking here.

If you have any suggestions, please let us know. If you want to share your thoughts or ideas, you’re welcome to do so in the LinkedIn group.

Our LinkedIn group welcomed its 2,500th member!

Today, our LinkedIn group Drafting contracts (click here to join) welcomed its 2,500th member! Since the start of the group in February of this year, numerous discussions have been initiated on various aspects of contract drafting. The group members are very enthusiast about the high level of discussions and discussion topics. They give a tremendous insight in the experience of legal professionals from all over the world, who explain the particularities of their own national legal system.

The discussion topics in the group address everyday contract drafting aspects. Have you ever wondered about some of the following:

  1. Stipulate “represent and warrant” or just “warrant”?
  2. Best practices re. MOUs, LOI‘s and pre-contracts.
  3. “Shall” or “will” – which obliges more in a contract?
  4. Recitals and preambles – what do they mean in your country?
  5. When do you opt for arbitration and when for a court of law?
  6. For the avoidance of doubt” : in which rare contexts would you use the phrase?
  7. Why exclude the CISG (Vienna Convention) from your contracts?
  8. Should a contract provide for ‘equitable relief‘?
  9. Indemnities in purchase contracts: how to draft them and do you need one?
  10. Counterparts clauses: why do we include them?
  11. Pathclearer‘ – a sensible approach to contracting?

Why is the LinkedIn group so helpful? Well, the world has globalised. Over the past decades, cross-border contracting has triggered an increasing need to understand the other party’s interests. Whilst national laws and case law have been converging in solutions and approaches, lawyers still begin to argue from their traditional national-legal-cultural point of view. Understanding the differences and similarities between national laws facilitates business and brings people together. The LinkedIn group appears to be a useful platform for creating such understanding.

This is a niche group: we maintain focus on issues related to contract drafting. Permitted subjects relate to:

1.  Sharing model contract clauses
2.  Best practices of drafting clear and unambiguous contract clauses
3.  The use of ‘legalese’ or archaic contract language
4.  Why or when to use certain contract language
5.  Legal or practical impact of certain contract clauses
6.  Comparative (contract) law enquiries
7.  Cross-border contracting and negotiating
8.  Checklists for contracts
9.  (How to) cooperate on model contracts
10. The look & feel of a contract

We will not approve (and will remove):

– job inquiries
– contributions mainly aiming at the sale of a product or (legal) service
– personal advertisements

Does this sound like an attractive environment to reflect on contract drafting issues?!

We started the LinkedIn-group Drafting contracts

Last week, I gave a contract drafting course to the in-house counsel of a Dutch multinational. The topics of the session included (“without limitation”):

  • The vacuous use of and/or
  • The rare circumstances in which for the avoidance of doubt serves a proper purpose
  • How to refer to numbers in sentences like “One (1) Shareholder will receive 12,000 euro, seven Shareholders will receive one U.S. dollar, and 14 Shareholders will receive 13 million euro” ?
  • Archaic legalese such as legal and valid, made and entered into, and in witness whereof

Our discussions were heated and spirited. Legal professionals appear to have their own thoughts about what is supportive or necessary when drafting a clear contract, without ambiguities. Sometimes, this goes against rules of grammar or even aligns with common parlance within an organisation. I doubt whether this is the right approach for contracts.

 

You will appreciate that I started a LinkedIn group “Drafting contracts“. As a legal professional, you’re welcome to join the group:

    Click here to be amongst the first to join!

The group focuses on Contract Drafting only. Share, discuss or observe any aspect related to drafting contracts:

  1. Model contract clauses
  2. Best practices of drafting clear and unambiguous contract clauses
  3. The use of ‘legalese’ or archaic contract language
  4. Why or when to use certain contract language?
  5. Legal or practical impact of certain contract clauses
  6. Comparative (contract) law enquiries
  7. Cross-border contracting or negotiating
  8. Checklists for contracts
  9. (How to) cooperate on model contracts
  10. The look & feel of a contract

Targeted members are legal professionals (attorneys-at-law, in-house legal counsel). The group drafting contracts is not intended for job inquiries, commercial advertisement or mere hyperlinks to your weblog. This is why we will moderate the group, at least in the beginning.

Tell your colleagues and other legal professionals
Obviously, we like to share and discuss aspects of contract drafting with our colleagues. If you know people who are in to contract drafting, or who like to join, link them into the group! Again:
http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=4036673

Forthcoming courses Contract Drafting

We will organise a new series of contract drafting courses. In collaboration with the Network Ondernemende Juristen (here is their website). The course is meant for experienced legal counsel and entitled:

Contract drafting – Techniques, Best practices, do’s and dont’s related to contract drafting

The training sessions will be on Tuesday evenings, 26 February, 12 & 26 March and 9 & 23 April at the offices of Netwerk OndernemendeJuristen in Amsterdam.

The contract drafting course is targeted at legal counsel with broad experience in drafting contracts. The course is given by Willem Wiggers (Weagree). The emphasis will be on aspects of writing an unambiguous contract (and not so much on recent case law). The language of instruction will be Dutch, clause examples will be from English-language agreements.

The programme is divided into five blocks of two+ hours each. Each block can be followed independently from the others:

1.     Drafting techniques – Tuesday 26 February
(tricks for improving readability and avoiding ambiguities). Subject matters:

  • Preventing ambiguity
  • Where in a text is the most important information? (The “left-right principle” and the “pyramid principle”)
  • Drafting ‘conceptually’ (not exhaustively)
  • Techniques to keep it short

2.     Setting up and drafting an agreement (1/2) – Tuesday 12 March

  • Contract structure (do’s and don’ts, schedules and annexes)
  • Letter agreements, side letters and LOI’s
  • Best practice rules for drafting recitals, definitions, conditions and covenants

3.     Setting up and drafting an agreement (2/2) – Tuesday 26 April

  • Drafting warranties, limitations of liability and indemnities
  • Dispute resolution (arbitration vs. court) and applicable law clauses
  • Miscellaneous clauses (about counterparts, severability, ‘entire agreement’ and other boilerplates)

4.     Legalese, other misfits and numbers in contracts – Tuesday 9 April

  • The misuse of various typical contract phrases (e.g. for the avoidance of doubt, deemed to be, without limitation)
  • Archaic doublets & triplets (“acknowledge and agree”, “indemnify and hold harmless”, “made and entered into”, “right, title and interest”, “execute and deliver”)
  • Guidelines for using numbers and figures in contracts (e.g. 30 (thirty))

5.     Cross-border contracting: the main foreign legal systems – Tuesday 23 April

  • Typical common-law-features and their impact on agreements (consideration, remedies, deeds, miscellaneous-clauses, “in witness whereof”)
  • Contracting under foreign law (what should be your focal points and where can you be more confident): a tour d’horizon of French and German law vs. ‘the’ common law
  • Remaining subjects from previous blocks

The costs are 180 euro per evening. Paying members of the OJ Network pay only 120 euro per evening. The course evenings are from 19:00-21:15 h. (doors open at 18:30 h.) at the offices of OndernemendeJuristen Emmastraat 40, 1075 HL Amsterdam. You will earn 1 credit points for the Dutch Bar per attended course hour, and will receive a certificate afterwards.

Newsletter – update: innovating and courses

Today, Weagree has published a new eBook, volume 9. Of course, the eBook is free. It complements part 1, about the miscellaneous provisions at the end of your contracts:

  • Miscellaneous (boilerplate) clauses (part 2, including confidentiality clauses)

We hope you like the eBook. Download it here.

We also distributed the following newsletter:

After the update of the Weagree contract assembly wizard in May, we enjoyed a wonderful summer. Two major Dutch multinationals signed up for a license, which enabled us to define new functionalities.

Over the past few months, we contacted Weagree Wizard users individually, and interviewed those who had seen our presentations. The users are proving to be very happy with the Weagree Wizard.

1.  Weagree’s ‘design slot’ for our contract assembly wizard
Our users are drawn to using the Weagree Wizard: they find our document automation solution convenient and rich in features and possibilities, and experience great time savings both in drafting time and response time. Happy users are more than happy to provide us with feedback. And so they are enthusiastically taking part in our innovations.

In May, we upgraded Weagree’s contract assembly wizard. Along with various technicalities, we improved multi-language support, simplified the user-interface and improved contract formatting capabilities (house style).
The forthcoming upgrade characteristically remains focused on user-friendliness. Having listed some 48 points for improvement, we made detailed specifications, requested quotations for realising them, and prioritised the list according to committed license fees.

A noteworthy comment came from Chantal, long-time user at our launching customer: she told me about her ‘lawyerish’ inclination not to delete her contract assembly history: lawyers wish to archive. A feature to put on the list.
Equally, we will continue to improve centralised contract house style management. Many organisations struggle with the ‘enforcement’ of a unified contract house style (if there is one at all). In a previous free Weagree eBook, we made various suggestions on how to achieve this. The coming upgrade will permit differentiation between different types of automated documents. (All house style changes will be managed from one central place and changes need not be repeated for all templates.)

2.  New courses on contract drafting
This autumn, we will be giving contract drafting courses. Not the boring type of programme, which discusses the latest pseudo-developments in case law on general terms and conditions, on contract rescission or pre-contractual liability. Rather, we’ll be offering tricks and techniques on the subject of:

  • How to avoid ambiguities and write clearer
  • How to set up a first draft agreement
  • Best practices on the use of definitions, conditions, covenants, warranties and limitations of liability

Obviously, we will also address legalese and the stupidity of archaic doublets and triplets, together with a comparative law tour d’horizon of the major legal systems worldwide. If you’re interested, it is all in my book Drafting contracts – Techniques, best practice rules and recommendations related to contract drafting (Kluwer 2011).

Newsletter on free eBook and our project for ITC

In April, I received a phone call from Geneva, “whether I was willing to develop a training programme on contract drafting.” I tell you the story, which I circulated in our Newsletter of this morning, in this blog post.

About a year ago, Weagree’s work had attracted the attention of the International Trade Centre (ITC), a joint agency of two major ngo’s. They were planning to establish the contract drafting training programme for the world’s 48 least developed countries (LDC’s). Though we were somewhat short of time, we undertook this dream job, being aware it was a unique opportunity.

1.  Forthcoming book: Cross-border contracting – Practical guidance and training materials

Our work for the ITC will result in a new book “Cross-border contracting – Practical guidance and training materials“. It will constitute the basis for training sessions that the ITC will provide to the 48 LDC’s during the coming years. For this purpose, I travelled to Cambodia and Laos, where our training sessions were received with great enthusiasm. It struck me that these countries are clearly developing into full members of the world community. As you can imagine, this work and the feedback are highly rewarding!

The new book builds on eight key model contracts developed by ITC with the involvement of over 50 law firms worldwide. The contracts cover international sale of goods, long-term supply, manufacturing, commercial agency, distribution, provision of services, alliances and joint ventures. If you are interested, click here for a free PDF.

The forthcoming book complements the model contracts with explanatory notes, do’s and don’ts regarding cross-border contracting, contract drafting best practices, negotiation tips and training materials. A considerable part deals with the Vienna Convention (CISG), as well as intellectual property law. Also, various well-known materials of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) will be worked out: documentary credit, Incoterms 2010, arbitration proceedings.

2. The Weagree Wizard upgraded

Early May, we upgraded Weagree’s contract assembly wizard. Along with various technical improvements, several functionalities were added:

  • Multi-language support (i.e. date format, country lists, and headers, footers and cover page can be generated in the correct language)
  • Generating PDF’s
  • Simplifications for users
  • Improved workflow
  • Improved contract formatting capabilities (house style)

This upgrade is in line with the key feature of Weagree: focus on user-friendliness.

3.  A new free Weagree eBook

I’m happy to tell you that Weagree has published a new eBook, volume 8. Again, the eBook is free. This time, it focuses on whether to insert and how to draft the miscellaneous provisions at the end of your contracts:

  • Miscellaneous (boilerplate) clauses (part 1)

We hope you like the eBook. Download it here.