February 6, 2019

How to Design Contract Playbooks and Standards

Written by
Henal Patel

At DocJuris, we're focused on helping legal teams collaborate, learn, and iterate with great software. After a few experiments with real/large customers, we discovered an easy and simple process to create an MVP - that is, a minimum viable playbook!

We're excited to share this fun and interactive process. Let's face it.  Contracts can be boring, and bringing people together to talk about them . . . is hard.

Materials Needed

Below is a quick list of supplies, which you can pick up at any office supply store.  Using tangible supplies is a great way to bring people out of their screens and into an interactive environment. We've also found that this type of exercise is "different" from what legal teams are use to, and it's a great way to change up an otherwise boring meeting.

  • Large yellow sticky notes
  • Medium green, yellow, red, and purple sticky notes
  • Fine point permanent markers
  • Chisel point permanent markers
  • Painter's tape (optional)
  • Lunch!
Make it interactive!

Team and Location

You'll need about two hours with the legal team to fully bake an MVP for your playbook. In our experience, one hour is also a great way to start the process, but for more complicated agreements and contract types, you'll need a meaningful chunk of the day. The good news is that the work will payoff - in a few hours, you'll have real, tangible results.

  • No more than 4-5 contract review experts in the organization
  • Moderator (e.g., DocJuris)
  • Internal champion
  • Large conference room with a wide area (glass works well)
Complex contract playbook involving several heavily negotiated legal concepts and provisions.

The Process

First, we explain the purpose of the meeting: build an MVP. Second, we encourage the meeting to be highly interactive + engaging.

Third, we provide a brief overview of the playbook design process and how we'll use the materials above to accomplish said goal.  Here's how it works:

  • Large notes represent issues - i.e., the primary points of negotiation. Pick no more than 5-10
  • Green notes represent preferred positions
  • Yellow notes represent fallbacks or alternative positions
  • Red notes represent show-stoppers and deal-killers
  • Purple notes are designated in random locations to identify deviation steps - i.e., who we need to talk to in the event of an impasse

From here, let the meeting flow organically.  Engage the team and allow the moderator to guide the discussion in the right direction. Stack the sticky notes, identify opportunities to streamline, and extract! Following the meeting, outline the results, take photos of the board, and share.  Remember the goal - in a limited amount of time, ask as many questions as possible and encourage the team to share.

A six issue playbook design covering procurement related contracts.

Tip: go through the high level issues first, and follow-through by digging into each issue. Working each issue one-by-one can be difficult, especially if you want a view of the forest. Contextually, looking at the forest and then the trees can help correlate related legal concepts.

What We Do

Lots more to share here - we love meeting with our customers to configure algorithm enabled playbooks. Our team of lawyers can meet with you, moderate a playbook design session, and provide a seamless implementation into DocJuris. If you're interesting in learning more, please contact us at hello[at]docjuris.com.

Written by
Henal Patel

Henal is a native Houstonian and the CEO of DocJuris. Before founding DocJuris, he worked as a senior in-house lawyer and legal ops specialist for over fifteen years.

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