Common Form aims to bring legal drafting and collaboration to the browser

/dev/lawyer Common Form

First, it aims to make drafting generically, as one would draft a form or template, more efficient and reliable than drafting expediently for one deal and one deal only. This is possible because an out-sized part of drafting is glaringly menial paper shuffling, on the one hand, and haphazard grasping, on the other. Untold lawyers flail, even now, in haystacks of TNR-12, wondering what needle-point technical errors lurk within. The better off delegate that hunt to hired help so they can rack brains and files for that elusive, perfect such-and-such clause seen, written, or stolen some years back. The would-be early-adopter types among us pay out for clunky third-party tools, get bitten (again) and adjust practices or expectations accordingly, lose the faith.

Common Form aims to expunge these experiences from the practice of law, and to collapse the long cycle of incremental improvements to the state of the art by forms committees, CLE handout scrambles, and traditional publishing deals. Public goods in law ought to be cheaper and easier to make.

Second, Common Form aims to make verification and sharing of contract content free, reliable, and instantaneous. Many a lawyer has reached the end of a non-disclosure agreement only to realize that, yes, it is in fact the same agreement they have read and approved, from top to bottom, many times before. Conversely, many a bespoke drafting project has devolved to a second-rate knock-off of a standard form Not Invented Here, then been thrust into circulation nonetheless to justify process or bill, polluting the ecosystem. Clients pay dearly for such duplication, sometimes unjustly, and good lawyers find no joy in the taking or making. Everybody drinks it off, and the wheel keeps on turning.

The code is open source and available on GitHub at I’ll be taking a good look at this and will report back.