Managing online legal terms is often difficult for fast-growing companies. As businesses become more digital, there is great pressure to onboard processes online. Digital contracts are a major part of the new business era, but it can get complicated when these contracts are scattered across the business. It can make e-discovery more difficult, create significant contract bottlenecks, and even create liability risks. A great solution to this problem is legal centers.
A legal center is a centralized location that powers user agreements and other contracts that must be managed and tracked. It gives your company an effective contract management tool to streamline your processes and improve revenue by saving you time and minimizing legal risk. Your company can benefit greatly from using a comprehensive legal center to manage your online terms.
What is a legal center?
A legal center—a legal content management system—is a centralized location that allows your online users to access terms easily. This makes it easy to give users unfettered access to your online terms and manage their acceptance. With one glance, users can access any terms that apply to them, which helps you provide notice and collect affirmative acceptance more quickly.
Standard web content management systems are not easily repurposed or a sustainable option because they are not designed to manage complex legal agreements. A legal center needs to address all of legal’s unique needs. Automation and proper distribution of key agreements in a legal center help a business:
- Defend the terms of its agreements in court
- Fulfill contractual obligations to avoid legal liability
- Manage key contract dates
- Encourage affirmative acceptance of terms by users.
Quiz: test your own contract management process
Giving control to legal
In-house legal departments understand the challenges of handling high-volume contracts in a business. Modern companies deal with millions of digital contracts that govern important aspects of a business and relationships with outside users. Whether the user is a consumer or another business, it is critical that legal has control over the terms of a contract—not inexperienced departments like IT.
In too many companies, legal depends on the technical team to update terms. This often creates mistakes with contract versioning or other issues that expose you to serious litigation risks. Other legal departments are at the mercy of their marketing department for changing online agreements.
How a legal center gives control back to legal
A legal center puts control completely back in legal’s hands. Its sophisticated technology doesn’t compromise the integrity of the digital experiences the company desires. Now updates to contracts, new contracts, or any other change can be handled directly by the in-house legal team who understands the significance of what they are doing.
Legal can now accomplish its goals on its own timeline instead of waiting for other dev teams to get around to it. They can maintain control over how agreements are presented to the user and ensure affirmative assent.
What a legal center looks like
A legal center puts all of your most important legal terms in a single location for your users. It presents them with a single web page with links to important terms, conditions, and agreements that may be part of their relationship with your company. This helps provide notice to users of the terms that apply to their conduct, purchases, or use of software.
A legal center should be labeled “Legal Center,” “Legal,” or another similar name that is obvious to the user. It should have important contracts and legal terms that may include, but are not limited to:
- Terms and conditions
- Professional service agreements
- User guidelines
- Subscription license agreements
- Privacy policies
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Terms of service
The purpose of the legal center
The legal center’s purpose is to put users on notice of all the legal agreements they may be subject to. It helps your company comply with statutory and regulatory requirements concerning legal notice.
Legal knows what must be part of the legal center to comply with state and federal law. When in control, they can make changes and update the legal center to ensure they comply with the law and provide an efficient experience for users.
Benefits of using a legal center
A legal center gives you and your company many benefits. These benefits can streamline your contract lifecycle management, improve compliance, and reduce legal liability risks in the following ways:
The primary benefit of a legal center is risk mitigation. A fast-growing company like yours significantly reduces risk by storing important contracts in one place. If this one place is controlled by legal as it should be, your department can manage important updates and easily enforce contracts.
It gives legal control of its own affairs without involving other departments that might misunderstand the legal significance of particular language or formatting of an agreement. For example, marketing may prefer the design of a clickwrap agreement to be a little more attractive, but it alters the screen design. Screen design is a major component of an enforceable clickwrap, and marketing interference could have significant liability risks.
A legal center vastly improves legal’s ability to maintain and record contracts. A digital contract repository captures and secures every agreement. It lets legal answer questions instantly instead of searching through legacy storage systems and leverage contract data to help automate their business and ensure compliance.
This improved recordkeeping provides key benefits like:
- Improved versioning capabilities to strengthen contract enforcement
- Easier to push and manage updates to contracts
- Easier access to back-end records
- Ability to filter and search for specific contracts or contracts with certain characteristics
- Excellent records about who accepted the contract and when
Puts users on notice
One of the primary factors of an enforceable agreement is that the user has notice of its terms. Too many companies have discovered their contract was unenforceable because they failed to provide adequate notice. A legal center helps solve this common problem by centralizing important contract terms to put users on notice of what they are agreeing to.
Users need to be able to find these terms easily. When the terms are in a single, easily accessible location, courts are more likely to enforce them.
Legal center best practices at a glance
A legal center should help your department and company protect itself from liability, improve compliance, and encourage affirmative assent to user terms. Certain best practices can make your legal center more effective:
- Keep legal in control: The legal department should remain in control of updating terms and the content stored in the legal center. As attorneys, you are best positioned to determine what should be available to users. You should control what is in the legal center and how it is displayed. You know that ease of access and screen design can play a significant part in whether a contract is enforceable.
- Include key agreements:Important agreements should be part of the legal center and available to users. Your company will have to decide which agreements qualify, but examples include terms and conditions, service agreements, and privacy policies. If you expect most users to sign a particular agreement, you should include it in your legal center.
- Link out to full agreement: If you reference a legal agreement like the terms and conditions, you should provide a hyperlink that takes the user to the entire agreement. While most users will never read the whole thing, providing them the opportunity is key to contract enforceability.
- Integrate with contract lifecycle management software: A modern and sophisticated contract lifecycle management software can help you manage all aspects of your company’s legal agreements. A CMS system can expedite updates, keep accurate records, and provide key contract metrics to help you reduce risk and improve contract enforceability.
Manage online terms with a legal center
A legal center puts your legal department in control of agreements and contracts. When you have control, you can help ensure enforceability and efficiency in your business contracts. You can put users on notice of important terms, create enforceable digital contracts, and manage all of your back-end records in one centralized location.
Traditional CMS systems were not meant to handle legal content or legal centers. Switching to a sophisticated contract lifecycle management software gives you the necessary tools to run an effective legal center.
- What is a legal center?
- Quiz: test your own contract management process
- Giving control to legal
- What a legal center looks like
- Benefits of using a legal center
- Legal center best practices at a glance
- Manage online terms with a legal center
Want more content like this? Sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Ironclad is not a law firm, and this post does not constitute or contain legal advice. To evaluate the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability of the ideas and guidance reflected here, or the applicability of these materials to your business, you should consult with a licensed attorney. Use of and access to any of the resources contained within Ironclad’s site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and Ironclad.