How to Design Human-friendly Contracts

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Cover letter for law firms
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Every business runs on contracts, even law firms. Contracts don’t just lay out the details of an agreement; they’re a key touchpoint that governs and strengthens relationships.

Unfortunately, the language used in contracts doesn’t reflect the excitement the company feels when welcoming a new employee or securing a new partnership. The joy of closing a deal or establishing a new relationship is seldom reflected in the document. 

This seems to compound when more and more lawyers are working remotely. The lack of face-to-face interaction makes the contract process seem even more disconnected from the business, its values, and the actual human beings who run it. At best, teams see the contract process as an inconvenience. At worst, it alienates the counterparty and sets a terrible first impression for the new relationship you’re building with clients. 

But reinventing contracts and making them more human doesn’t need to involve a lengthy, disruptive project. Legal teams and law firms can follow these five small steps to make a big difference to the user experience they give to contract users.

1. Mind your legalese

Teams work hard to capture the brand voice of a company through socials, emails, and various other documents. So why are contracts any different? Instead of using legal jargon that confuses your legal clients, keep your language clear, concise, and friendly. By doing so, you can create contracts that are easy to read, and ultimately, easy to sign.

This can be a make-or-break situation when it comes to securing new talent: For example, when your business sends out employment contracts that are easy to read and understand, the candidate doesn’t have to sift through several pages of complex terminology before signing. Instead, they feel like they’re joining a business that treats them like a human being, rather than a legal risk.

2. Be transparent

Don’t hide important details in the depths of your contracts. The longer it takes the counterparty to find this information, the more frustrated and alienated they will feel. Besides, they could decide not to sign altogether. Legal teams need to capture and articulate the most important details at the beginning of the document, so all the key information is on hand and the counterparty can make an informed decision.

This is especially important when it comes to closing deals—since speed is of the essence. If you’re sending non-disclosure agreements and order forms to a counterparty, prioritize the most important information and showcase the key details right at the start. This way, both parties can have confidence that the document won’t slow down the process.

3. Write to excite

There’s no reason why contracts shouldn’t be human, readable, and optimistic. By altering the tone of the documents, legal teams can capture the excitement of welcoming a new employee to the company or welcoming a new customer to the community. 

This is more important now than ever, where face-to-face interactions have been restricted.  To make the counterparty feel welcome and pleased that they chose to sign, you need to go the extra mile. 

When it comes to hiring new employees, for example, the offer letter needs to sound like it’s coming from an individual, instead of a faceless organization. Adding the personal, human touch to a contract can make all the difference—for example, you can refer to what happened in the interview, or the new hire’s hobbies and interests.

4. Set clear expectations

Make sure that the document sets expectations of what will happen post-signature. In a remote world, communication—and over-communication—is key. Don’t leave any space for ambiguity or uncertainty, and maintain the momentum of an exciting new relationship by mentioning “next steps” in the contract.

For example, getting a signature from a client is only the beginning. Depending on your law firm’s process, the next steps could involve client onboarding and various sessions to help the client and their team learn about working with your firm. Get your new clients excited about your legal service by detailing the stages to come, introducing the team members involved, and setting a timeline. This way, everyone’s on the same page from day one.

5. Make it visual

Add a little flair to your contracts to make them stand out from the rest. Your key documents should be branded consistently. 

This can be as simple as branding your documents with a logo, brand colors, and messaging. 

The power of automation

Automating the contract process can help legal teams create more human contracts, and simplify the entire process. By creating a set template, you can enable self-serve from a single version and create visual, exciting, design-led documents that positively represent the business and still follow legal requirements. 

What’s more, if you need to update the contract, someone else can easily access and edit a single document. In a remote working environment, where everyone is distributed and working on their cases and projects, automation can help you maintain visibility on contracts and standardize the process across different business functions.

Now is as good a time as any to reinvent contracts and make them more human—by making these small changes, you can save time for the work that matters, create contracts that set an incredible first impression, and enable the business to succeed in the long run.

Categorized in: Business

A Course in Client-Centered Lawyering: Introducing The Client-Centred Law Firm

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