oneNDA Club Launches to Standardise Key Contract(s)

An ambitious and potentially market-shaping project launches today with the goal of developing ‘a universally standardised’ NDA that will reduce legal work, increase transparency and speed up business dealings.

The project, named oneNDA has been created by The Law Boutique, a UK-based legal optimisation company. And, as mentioned below, they may well then target other commonly used contracts once the Non-Disclosure Agreement project reaches its goal.

The plan is three-fold, and will take place like this:

Phase 1: founders club – timeline: 16 Feb – 1 March 2021

‘We’re looking for 100 brand ambassadors, NDA standardisation evangelists and legal innovators to form our founding members’ team.  Founding Members will be asked for input on the #oneNDA roadmap, they’ll get early access to the oneNDA toolkit (coming soon) and get to be part of something amazing!’

Phase 2: consensus – timeline: 1 March – 31 March 2021

Being able to tell the world that the #oneNDA was created collaboratively by our Founding Members is a pretty compelling argument for accepting standardisation. It’s also a key component for its wider adoption. The aim is to gain consensus from our founding members on the format, language and content of the document that will form the #oneNDA.

Phase 3: launch – timeline: 1 April – onwards

Once we have an agreed template, it’s time to grow the #oneNDA club. Our aim is to get 1000 companies to formally adopt and use the #oneNDA by the end of 2021.’

Artificial Lawyer for one is going to be a big supporter of this project. Why? Because it goes to the heart of much that is amiss with the legal sector as it currently operates today. Greater standardisation (or even any standardisation…) along with legal data sharing and shared matter taxonomies are going to be essential for real change to take place. Tech won’t truly shift the means of production just by itself, nor can tech operate in isolation.

In fact, when you think about it, tech and standardisation go hand in hand, as both orbit the centre of gravity that is efficiency. But, let’s hear from the co-founders of this project, Electra Japonas and Roisin Noonan, (L and R below), who also run The Law Boutique.

Why do this?

Lawyers – particularly in-house lawyers – spend a disproportionate amount of time negotiating NDAs. This isn’t warranted. Not only are they mostly variations on the same, they’re rarely litigated, because of the near impossibility of demonstrating that breach of an NDA directly resulted in loss to the non-breaching party. Yet people still insist on spending hours negotiating them when in-house lawyers should be advising on strategic initiatives and driving business growth.

Is this really achievable?

It’s understandable that people will have doubts. But we believe that by first bringing 100 lawyers on board to validate the concept and again expanding that out, it’s definitely achievable. Plus, everyone hates NDAs so…

Is this just for England & Wales, or for all the world?

Universal is the goal.

Who will own the NDA once it’s created? Will it be open source?

The oneNDA club will act as custodian of the document and will be responsible for reviewing it annually (if not more frequently) to ensure it’s keeping pace with market requirements and any feedback received from members using it.

What else can we do…employment contracts?

Completely agree. We believe oneNDA is just the beginning. For too long, legal documents have been the preserve of lawyers. There’s no need for that to be the case. By creating balanced templates, we make law more accessible, usable and sensible, which can only be good for business and the broader economy. 

This is a great project, and one could call this brave. It’s brave because seeking to build and establish standard contracts isn’t just a matter of providing something very useful and efficient to the market, it’s something that will no doubt be seen by some lawyers as undermining their open-ended, always tending toward maximum complexity approach. I.e. it will cut across the ‘time = value’ production model that has quietly sustained the NDA nonsense that Japonas and Noonan are targeting.

If most standard contracts were…well…standard…..and a company didn’t have 200 versions of what is essentially the same thing, then you’d need a lot less input from external advisers on such matters. (The inhouse lawyers would also be more able to focus on legal matters that…well….really mattered.)

For lawyers who may be worried about a loss of income, there is solace in the fact that the clients are happy to pay (a lot) to law firms for expert advice and input that really reduces significant risks – and they always will be.

But, the penny really has started to drop now that the unlimited time approach, with an inherent tendency toward maximum complexity and an exhaustive coverage of any and all possible risks, is only a good fit for certain types of legal matter.

You could say that a contract is a piece of work that could in effect never end, if the client allowed all possible eventualities to be covered off. But, at some point you have to say: stop. You then have to say: hold on, where are the commonalities between all these documents that are trying to achieve the same result?

It will be fascinating to see how this goes. Artificial Lawyer wishes the oneNDA Club the best of luck.

If you’d like to contribute please see the link here.