Are you in the right place?

Are you in the right place?

Are you in the right place?

Maybe not–most first-time visitors want simple templates in Word format that they can edit and show a lawyer friend. If all you need is an NDA or an employment agreement, try one the prior-art template libraries. Legalese is overkill for basic contracts, which are the corporate equivalent of a gist.

When should you use Legalese?

When you’re raising funds. Anything to do with investment or shares is more like a kernel patch. If you mess up, you might be breaking the law or you might just make other people very rich yet walk away with nothing.

The normal response to this level of FUD is to go talk to a lawyer. But startups aren’t normal. They don’t want to spend any money on lawyers. Is there a better way?

Opensource hackers are used to downloading, for free, entire stacks of abstractions which (with all due respect to lawyers), dwarf the complexity of any given contract or even any lawsuit. In the unlikely case that what you want doesn’t exist, you can create it yourself and send a pull request! In the open paradigm, the answer to complexity is computation; the answer to repeating demand is scalable supply; and the default social dynamic is cooperation.

But the world of legal is still stuck in the 1980s. In the proprietary paradigm, the answer to complexity is human expertise, the answer to repeating demand is billable hours, and the default social dynamic is competition and conflict.

Legalese brings the open paradigm to law. Software is eating law – first we model corporations in software, then we put contract clauses in Github, and pretty soon the drafting of transactions starts to look a lot like writing code. Or, rather, downloading free code and configuring for your local situation. Just as programmers write an application once for a million end-users to play with, legal hackers will write a contract once for a million businesses to execute.

A handful of startups are in the game, focusing on investment workflows. Legalese is the opensource member of that family, created by hackers, for hackers, to help founders and investors configure and compile the “loadable modules” for startups: ESOPs, vesting schedules, convertible notes, and equity angel rounds are just another problem in algorithms and data structures.

Investment deals involve up to a dozen overlapping agreements. If you omit any one component, the entire patch may be void, or you might be in breach of a prior contract. For example, most companies define pro rata rights: any new investmenta greement requires sign-off from existing shareholders. If you issue new shares without consulting existing shareholders, you might be breaking the law. For fundraising deals, filling in random Word templates without thinking about the bigger picture is like whacking at a binary executable with a hex editor.

That’s why we made Legalese. It produces complete, consistent, coordinated sets of documents that confidently move your company’s state vector from A to B. We’ve gathered free early-stage fundraising agreements published by YC and 500 Startups, marked them up, and turned them into Legalese templates. You only have to fill in your details once, and we’ll generate all the agreements that you need to get your seed, safe, or Series AA round going.

There are more startups outside the U.S. than inside, so we’ve also added an i18n layer to internationalize the agreements for jurisdictions like Singapore and India. All the templates are open-source, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for, send a pull request!

Of course, Legalese is not a substitute for qualified legal advice. You should read every word of every agreement you sign, and that includes the PDFs that Legalese produces. You should also show those PDFs to a lawyer for review. If you get substantive edits from your lawyer about the *legal* elements we produce, please submit a pull request so those changes can benefit future users. If your lawyer gives you business or commercial advice, you might want to consult our comparison of standard docs below to find an alternative document that makes her happier.

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