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Just when you though you couldn't feel any more obsolete as a practicing attorney, a new startup begins offering a free service that threatens to take away more legal jobs.
These days, even getting work as a "doc reviewer" is the best that many licensed attorneys can hope for. But Silicon Valley's latest legal startup looks poised to strike the final nail in the coffin of the tedious practice of paper contract management.
Enter the New Guys
Concord Worldwide Inc.'s co-founder, Matt Lhoumeau, claims that Concord is the first company to "offer free and unlimited signature and contract management." The services aims to streamline the execution of contracts via e-signatures and is billed as a one-stop program for all aspects of contract management.
The idea that would become Concord was seeded when a CEO at a large company requested that Lhoumeau renegotiate the terms of 500 vendor agreements. What he found was that just getting a manageable hold on the contracts was a monumental task. Contracts worth $30 million would go missing.
In the words of Concord, contract law has been stuck "in the stone age."
A Real Need to Get With the 21st Century
Years ago, I was tasked with organizing a discovery nightmare in a medical malpractice/fraud case that involved six states and some federal IP law. Several dozen boxes of discovery lined the walls of the firm, turning it into a cave. Photographs, orders, contracts, pending motions -- all chaotically mashed together. The kicker? No electronic record of any of it.
This this sort of scenario is not uncommon in small law firms. Although electronic discovery has become standard in complex litigation today, contract law has mysteriously remained rooted in paper. That's the appeal of Concord's free service: even penny-pinching firms have an option of a new contract management approach.
When Free Will Do
The paid "Enterprise" version of the program appears to be intended only for much larger, much more heavily funded companies. It features contract templates, workflow management, and compliance reporting assistance.
In reality, the free version of the program is probably more than adequate for most small-business purposes and that upgrading to the Enterprise version would be gilding-the-lily.
Time will determine whether or not Concord's business model will prove effective for the company. Concord offers features that other companies typically charge for, such as being able to track versions of a contract and legally binding e-signatures. Given the importance of the enforceability of e-signatures, it's notable that this feature is being offered free of charge.
It looks like contract management is beginning to catch up with the 21st century. About time.