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Understand contracts before you sign them (lawgeex.com)
136 points by lawgeex on Mar 4, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments



As a lawyer, I am always excited to see innovation in the legal space. This seems like an interesting concept: using an algorithm to summarize a document (contract) and to flag unusual clauses. Put the document in, and out comes the legal blessing.

However, I am a little concerned about the viability of this concept in terms of producing a valuable analysis. A true analysis considers the context of a document. For instance, a one-year term is a common residential lease clause. However, what if the tenant was under a 6 month employment contract and needed to change locations? The algorithm would not know this and would not flag the clause. Or what if the tenant was 17 years old and couldn't legally sign contracts in the first place?

Sometimes interpretation of a contract comes down to the exact wording of a contract. Most boilerplate language is the result of years of evolution and precedent. A summary might subtly change or obscure the meaning.

Finally, you are getting very close, if not into, the unauthorized practice of law. I recommend contacting your state bar association for feedback.

That being said, I input my email address into your website and look forward to monitoring your progress.


Fellow JD here.

I have to disagree with you re: viability. Not only does most of our work lend itself well to automation (discovery, researching precedent, and predicting case outcomes), but this particular startup is aimed squarely at the most obvious domain where humans mostly aren't needed anymore: formulating contracts. Translating boilerplate legalese into natural language and running both parties through checklists of essential elements seems like an obvious solution to an expensive problem. I really don't see why 99% of contracts can't be automated outside of high-level practice.

Nor do I really understand your examples. I can't recall the last time anyone I know hired a lawyer to sign a rental agreement, nor do I see any reason why contract software wouldn't first check that both parties are legally competent.

Finally, I'm pretty uncomfortable with the idea that "if you automate our profession, our protectionist guild will go after you." You're not wrong, and it would be wise for LawGeex to stay wary -- of all trades, the lawyers are going to fight tooth and nail to stay relevant -- but startups like LawGeex or RocketLawyer are clearly far more in the public interest than our ludicrously expensive middleman services. We may as well ban self-driving cars because the Teamsters want to keep dangerous, error-prone human truckers.


Yes, you would have to have some sort of questionnaire for the user to complete, along the lines of the TurboTax wizards or legal document assembly software, with questions based on the algorithm's analysis of the contract. I didn't see anything like that on the website, but it is certainly doable. At the moment, the website is only accepting residential real estate contracts which is why I used them as an example.

As a member of the State Bar of California, I can only wish it acted as a guild protecting my interests. Quite the contrary, it has an adversarial relationship with its members from overseeing the attorney discipline system to enforcing continuing education rules. It is more about consumer protection than attorney protection. I see your point, though.


>I can't recall the last time anyone I know hired a lawyer to sign a rental agreement

I know the OP was talking about residential leases; however, in the span of ~3 years I would say I have been retained ~100 times to review/negotiate/revise commercial lease (rental) agreements.

The real value would be comparing the results of LawGeex with a lawyer's legal opinion for the same contract. Even then, it is easy enough to say one could compare 2 attorney legal opinions of a contract and have drastically different opinions, or that while a LawGeex contract review may be identical to an attorney on one contract, it may not on another.


Think of it as a first pass. Yes, you'll have to go over it again anyways, but the 'flags' it pulls out give a little bit of landmarks and a tiny bit of extra awareness that you may have missed. It's probably going to have a error rate much higher than yours, but it's errors have a chance of being not yours and it may catch things you missed. The real question is how much better of a lawyer does it make you? Can it save you 1 hour a day, 1 hour a week, 1 hour a month? And if it can, how much does that cost you in terms of billable hours or whatever your rates are like?


If this service is for lawyers, then it could have value. However, most lawyers pass their time costs onto their clients, so they have no incentive to be efficient. I would aim at corporate lawyers, although it's a very small market.


I can then see the aim to the mass market. It is something that in the very least gives you confidence in the contract in some small way. If the software gives it a pass, you can then sorta assume it is somewhat legit. However, if it gives a pass with conditions, you can then have something to push back on the other party for. It'll give people some confidence to argue their own rights, even if it is terribly misplaced and wrongheaded, it might get people to read their contracts.


We have the ability to calculate a rough estimate of the time required to read a given text. This means we can create a law that states that for a contract to be valid, each party must be given at least 80% of that time[1] for the contract to be considered valid.

Don't want to give the necessary 30-60min? Don't write so long of a contract, or figure out a way to do without.

[1] 20% is to remove any margin of error in the calculation; the exact amount is configurable


I'm curious, at what point in time did you (everyone on HN) learn about contracts? Did your father or teacher sit you down one day and say "here's this piece of paper that is legally binding and here's how to understand it and here's everything you need to know about contract law and your legal obligations, etc.?"

It seems like something that is never taught yet is an ever present part of our lives. It also seems like one would have a hard time accomplishing anything today because there are contracts for everything, many with clauses one would otherwise not want to accept.


There are three levels to understanding contracts.

1) The language itself.

Contracts are written in English (at least in the U.S.), so anyone with a strong understanding of English can read one top to bottom and comprehend what it is saying.

Experience in analyzing writing (like from a few college English courses) can help a lot, both in learning to quickly parse sentences, and in learning to infer motivations from the language on the page. You always want to be able to answer "why did they write it this way? What are they trying to get?"

2) What is typical and standard in contracts.

You can only get this from experience--from reading a lot of contracts--because it's often industry-specific.

For example, many software contracts, even 6 figure enterprise deals, include an ALL CAPS DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY. THIS SOFTWARE IS OFFERED AS-IS AND WITHOUT WARRANTY. WE DON'T GUARANTEE THIS WILL WORK FOR YOUR PURPOSES, OR INDEED, WORK AT ALL.

I'm exaggerating, but not by much. This is a totally standard clause in the software industry, so whether or not you like it, you generally just have to swallow it if you want to do the deal

Likewise, most EULAs are very similar to one another. Once you've carefully read a few of them, you can quickly skim for the important bits (copyright, liability, data sharing) on new ones.

3) What the law says.

Contracts can't break the law. For example a contract that contains lies would be fraudulent. A contract that says you need to speed or drive drunk is not enforceable. A contract that says you can commit murder would not protect you from prosecution.

This is probably the hardest area to build knowledge, without going to law school. For me, it has helped to read news stories and good forums like HN. For example, I know that non-compete clauses in employment contracts are unenforceable in California, because so many people have said so.

There are some lawyers who post here--grellas for example--and AMAs from lawyers on Reddit are helpful too.


Your first point may be better if broken into two. While a contract is written in English, you need a legal specific understanding, not merely a strong understanding of English. For example, consider affirming something.

If I affirm a statement, it is generally understood to be me agreeing with/supporting the statement. But if I affirm an appeal, I am supporting the original ruling that was appealed, which is in a very basic sense the opposite of what affirming an appeal would be seen as to most people using the English definition.


Also essential:

4) What is enforceable? What contractual violations will either party invest in enforcing? Enforcement may require too much time or money (e.g., it's not worth suing over $1,000), or it may disrupt valuable relationships (e.g., if the contract is with a customer who accounts for 50% of sales, you are unlikely to sue them).


There's no need for such a law.[1] If you haven't read it, or if you don't understand it, don't sign it. Problem solved.

If you don't have the confidence to ask for time to consider or seek advice about a contract you've been asked to sign, that is a different problem.

[1] In some jurisdictions there is a statutory 'cooling off' period for particular classes of contract (eg five business days for the sale of residential property) during which the purchaser can decide not to proceed, but there is no such need in relation to commercial transactions generally.


Have you read and understood the T&C for Hacker News? How about your ISP? The captive portal in your local coffee shop? Your computer's/phone's OS upgrades? Your car's ECM (it's probably buried in the user manual)?

We encounter too many of these on a daily basis, on things required simply to participate in modern life, to read/understand the vast majority of them.


The proposition that it is impractical to read and understand every contract we enter into does not present a need for a law invalidating or avoiding every contract where insufficient time to read and understand it is not given. I think the only consequence of the proposed law (if that proposition is correct) would be to destroy contractual certainty for a time; the premise denies that anyone would actually use the period of time for its intended purpose.

I also only referred to contracts that are signed. Signatures are important: as a general rule, you are taken to have read and understood the terms of any contract you have signed. If you agree to the terms of a contract without signing (eg many of the examples you mention, or oral acceptance, or clicking a button) there is generally no such assumption. Whether that will afford you any greater measure of relief if you later want to get out of the contract depends on the individual case, but there are circumstances in which it will.


In theory, the "cooling off" periods you mention should cover the "minimum time" requirements that I'm suggesting. The devil is in the details, of course, but such periods where the contract being negotiated can still be called off would account for my concerns.

As for the rest of contract law, this very thread exists because of the problem of people not actually reading contracts. We can't make people read them, and we can't make sure that people understand what a contract contains[1].

What we can do is show that one of the requirements for a contract[2] hasn't been met.

I'm totally fine with skipping this requirement if it is the 2nd or later time you've signed the contract. I would also say that a business that wrote the contract has obviously met the time requirement already. This types of details are flexible and open to negotiation.

I am simply suggesting that trowing a multi-page contract at someone and letting them sign it seconds later shouldn't count as a valid contract, and that we can now calculate a lower bound length of time. It would be nice if this encouraged shorter contracts in some situations or favoring common language over what most people consider obtuse legalease, but this is not required.

[1] but maybe we should

[2] the "meeting of the minds", or mutual agreement to the contents of the contract and requirements of each party


I understand the concern, and I agree that real problems arise - relatively often - when people don't take the time to read and understand contracts before they sign them. I don't have any data for the following assertion, but I would hazard a guess that the reason most people don't read contracts is not that they do not have the time to read them, but that they do not want to take the time to read them.

I think building in a cooling off period is not likely to incentivise people to take the time to read and understand their contracts. The experience of reading and trying to understand a contract is too unpleasant. Could the experience be made more pleasant? I don't know, but if you find a way to crack that nut, you might find a unicorn inside.


> incentivise people to take the time to read

That, technically, is not what I'm proposing.

I suggest a burden on businesses or other parties that want to require a contract, in the form of a forced delay roughly proportional to the length/complexity of the contract they wish to use.

In practice, I expect businesses will find this unacceptable[1]. They would therefor work to find some alternative solution.

It might be that there wasn't a need for contracts in some situations, or that the contract language could be made much simpler/shorter. Alternatively, maybe a handful of "well known" standard contracts could become popular, similar in style to the Creative Commons licenses.

We cannot (and should not) avoid complex contracts entirely, but we might be able to fix a lot of common "simple" situations that shouldn't use a complex contract that few people read. By setting up the time burden, I expect complex contract (that might already have a "cooling off" period) wouldn't be significantly affected, but everyday small-time stuff will be incentivised to move away from the current practice of throwing usually-one-sided legalease at everything.

[1] I have often heard that the reason our current credit card system hasn't been updated to something with actual security (chip+pin, one time numbers, some sort of callback system, etc) is that any of these better methods would slow down transactions, resulting in less sales. Regardless of this being true or not, I'm attempting to utilize the perception.


>people don't take the time to read and understand contracts before they sign them

Should an individual be bound by an agreement they did not understand when they entered into it? Take phone contracts. Every time I've spoken with a sales person, they outright lied to me about the contract. I'm one of the only individuals who sit down and read the contract realizing where they lied to me. But friend and parents are far more trusting and have been tricked numerous times.

Given the evidence that companies are exploiting both customer's trust and customers limited understanding (especially when you consider that many below average individuals are signing these contracts), I feel these contracts should be just as valid as a contract signed by a 7 year old.


Read or understand? This is legalese we're talking about.


Understanding is beyond the scope of what I'd like to see fixed in contract law. The idea is that if you have a 5 page contract, it should have taken at least 8 minutes[1] to read regardless of if it is legalease or written in a plain style.

It's a lower bound. Failure to satisfy that bound can then be seen as prima facie evidence that the has not been a "meeting of the minds", due to one party being given sufficient time to even read the contract.

As I tried to imply, there are various configurable details here that would need to be negotiated; I just believe that some sort of minimum bound should be established in law. The alternative is to allow the current trend of de facto contracts of adhesion to grow.

[1] or whatever the length of time is calculated to be - I just made up this number


So effectively, the individual signing must spend 8 minutes doing nothing but looking at the contract (even if they are daydreaming). I can see where this is would be a concrete improvement, even if just a minor one to a much larger problem.


I'm always shocked by the number of people who don't read the contracts they sign.

It's one thing if you have hundreds of pages of legalese in front of you - I can see the value of a service such as this, or hiring your own lawyer for such cases - but for a few pages, five minutes of your time max, I just don't understand why so many people don't take the time to do so.

One habit I've noticed in highly successful people is that they don't skim over bits of contracts (something I'm certainly guilty of); everything is read in detail.

Does anyone have any anecdotal stories about successful people not taking 10 minutes to read a contract?


I think there are two things at play here.

1. People perceive they don't have a choice. For example when you visit the doctor and you have to sign 12 different form/contracts. Most people believe they either sign them or don't get treated.

2. Fear of not understanding. They think they wouldn't understand they legalese even if they tried, so why even bother? Personally I don't blame them. I've read contracts that were so wordy and had so much legalese in them you'd be convinced the lawyers wrote them that way just so everyone involved would need to hire as many lawyers as possible simply to understand the darn thing.


I think a grossly underutilized tactic is learning the art of quickly reading and red-lining a contract. Meaning you go through line by line and cross out particularly nasty lines or clauses, or make quick edits, and then initial next to the changes. Then sign at the bottom and hand it back.

It's a habit I picked up from being in the music business for years, specifically being a concert promoter in my early 20's, where it's absolutely standard and normal practice to get a contract, red-line or change the stuff that doesn't apply or doesn't work for you, and return it. A good example would be striking language like "or for any other reason" at the end of a cancellation clause, or changing terms from perpetuity to 12 months, stuff like that.

I've since done it at doctor's offices, when renting or buying things, when signing a simple freelancing contract, and many other contexts. It's much less confrontational, after all you do sign it and hand it back to them, putting the onus on them to deal with it if it's a problem. I recommend this approach highly if you're the type to care.


Don't they usually contain things like. "Any changes to this standard contract have to be approved by the CEO of LargeCorp in writing, otherwise it is invalid". And every change has to be initialed by has to be initialed by both parties.


In that case the entire contract is invalid and neither party is bound by it.


It's compounded with scummy tactics too. I've had one office email me a few forms to read and sign before the first office visit. Then, when I arrive two minutes before the appointment, they give me "just one more form", which is the arbitration agreement.

Why couldn't that have been sent with the others? To pressure people into signing.

Heck, I've even had medical doctors insist that I don't need to read something before signing it, just "get the gist" so they can go ahead with the appointment.

Edit2: I almost think the world is designed around prodding you not to read the contract, by any means necessary, and then holding you personally responsible for it. Like, imagine parking garages. Try asking for a contract there and see what happens. Let's say you don't like the terms. Then what? They make everyone back out of the single lane entry while glaring at you? What about negotiating the terms? And good luck expecting them not to assert rights they can't legally get via contract.


Thanks, those are some really interesting points!

I still find both explanations a bit strange, though. I mean, wouldn't you at least like to know whether there are any restrictions on operating a company from your rented accommodation, even if you perceive that you don't have any choice in it? Or even just where you stand in general?

I've also read some crazy legalese, but the thing is that I've read a heck of a lot more contracts that aren't legalese, and are very easy to understand.

That leaves me wondering whether it's the common introductory bits (e.g. that state "THE TENANT is John Smith") that make people give up early?


I've walked out of businesses and/or offices on account of contract terms offered. There is that option.


Do you find that has a negative affect on your interactions with society? I can't imagine I could find a dentist or doctor that didn't have patient contractual obligations that I'd rather not agree to.


This is the problem, really. Don't like some terms in e.g. a mobile phone agreement? Take it or leave it. If you can't mobilize a mass of people to join you in rejecting it (you almost certainly can't, even if everyone hates the terms) your choice is to sign or go to another carrier (who will have the same problematic clauses in their contract). It'll hurt you more to be without a phone than it'll hurt the company not to take some special snowflake contract with you and get your tiny monthly payment in return. This is broadly true for loans, employment contracts, even doctors'/hospitals' contracts.

For the overwhelming majority of business interactions most individuals participate in, they're the weaker party by a large margin. The notion that any substantial portion of contracts and business agreements are being freely made between equals is a fiction. Degrees of coercion are everywhere. Consider: it's common to require candidates for low-wage jobs to take a piss test. If they say no, someone else will agree because they need the money. The business can afford to be at 98% capacity (or just overwork their employees) for another couple of days—an individual may not be able to afford an income of $0.00 for another couple of days. The job is worth more to the candidate than the (particular) candidate is to the employer. Agree, but insist your potential manager show you the results of a piss test, too? Laughed out of the room. Equals? Not even close.

Yadda yadda yadda this is the reason we have laws and don't just rely on contacts for everything. Also why unions exist (and why they must require membership, or else be largely ineffective) for employment issues specifically.


In the phone market, increasingly, you can go non-contract with pay-as-you-go / prepaid SIMs.

What's starting to emerge is the concept of a WiFi-only device which is usable for voice / messaging when within network range, but not otherwise.

I agree with you generally vis-a-vis power relations -- that's really a highly underappreciated element of economics, though Smith's own second discussion of wealth begins: "Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power".

More generally, organizing politically to prohibit such measures is necessary.

Not merely "making them unlawful to use for discrimination", as there are plenty of other unrestricted grounds for discrimination. But prohibiting outright.


It depends on the situation. But I'll generally raise the question, and if it's flat-out rejected, I'll keep shopping around.

I'll note that there's discussions that happen as well. WallMart's story on HN had a substantial discussion of their mandatory drug test requirement.


In Australia, we have some beneficial consumer laws (eg prohibiting misleading conduct in trade or commerce), and I have heard of some people deliberately not reading contracts so that they can rely on favourable oral representations made to them by the other party, which could be a big business representative or (more commonly) a shop assistant or clerk. The idea is that it doesn't matter whether the contract (often handed to you at the same time) says anything different to what you were told by the representative, provided that you don't know what the contract says and are genuinely relying on what you were told (and can later prove what they told you). There are some other caveats too but you get the idea. You do leave yourself open to the risk of agreeing to other nasty clauses in the contract wholly unrelated to what was said to you though.


That would be fantastic. I've recently signed a complicated contract (which I read, but which I don't fully understand, and it's in an area I know is rife with hidden gotchas), and while my employer gave me a very explicit and unambiguous explanation of how wonderful it is for me (and yes, I recorded the call), I would love the confidence of knowing the law would defend me if he was lying.


Since you wanted anecdotal stories, I've known multiple relatively successful people (not billionaires, but millionaires who moved in high powered social circles) who didn't read the contracts for their rental cars or hotel rooms.

It's not a particularly interesting anecdote. The anecdotes aren't interesting. Nothing ever came of not reading the contracts, but they were successful people who didn't take ten minutes to read a contract.


Maybe they have read one before, and they're all pretty similar so the benefit of reading another one is minor compared to just having insurance pay for it.

Also the rental companies have a an incentive to not be featured in a 60 minutes style expose.


I was given a non employee poaching contract to sign when I gave my notice at BIGCORP. It had some vague language like "I will not attempt to contact any BIGCORP employees with information about other positions". I gave it back to the manager at the exit interview unsigned and said nice try. I guess they are just hoping someone doesn't read it.


Software license agreements. Huge numbers of successful people click "ok" and don't read the license at all.


Huge numbers? If I ever met anyone who said they read the full license for all software they use, I would call them a liar.


Re-read what you replied to.


I was alluding to 'huge numbers' being an understatement.


Stallman


Lawtonfogle changed the original statement regarding reading a contract that required an affirmation to the more nebulous "the full license for all software they use."

One does not require a software license in order to use it. An elevator may be controlled by software, without having to sign an EULA. I have seen Stallman using a network connection where the router ran a non-free OS and where he did not sign a license agreement in order to use it.


>Lawtonfogle changed the original statement regarding reading a contract that required an affirmation to the more nebulous "the full license for all software they use."

TBH, I was actually meaning just the software that you have to click agree to or that has the 'by signing up with an account, you agree...'. I may not have worded it fully accurate for my intention, and if so I apologize for the confusion.


In that case, tormeh is right. Stallman is an example of a successful person (founder of an international movement, winner of the MacArthur genius award, etc.) who uses computers and has not signed an EULA without reading it first.


Judge Richard Posner claims that he didn't read the contract for his home equity loan:

http://abovethelaw.com/2010/06/do-lawyers-actaully-read-boil...


Do you read the entire End User License Agreement before clicking 'Install'?


Yes, I read every contract I sign my name to, or prevent myself from taking that action. I didnt start doing this until I was probably about 16 or 17 and realized the terms that people were tying themselves to, and often that said terms were legally binding.

I have had employers and peers ridicule me when I take my time to always read everything in the contract, and I simply dont care, I will continue to do it anyway.


Honest question, how do you get anything else done? I'm in the coffee shop for my morning hacker news dose, and I've already interacted with 2-3 contracts in the form of EULAs in the 20 minutes I've been here.

If I took the time to read and comprehend each of those (while looking for changes in one I've read before, after all there's usually a "terms may change without prior notice" clause), I wouldn't have done anything else this morning.


Trying not to be hyperbolic since some people apparently didnt like my earlier comments, but it doesnt take that long to read most contracts unless they are purposefully misleading.

Most EULAs have very little original content and dont require deep analysis.

Considering those 2-3 things you signed up for or agreed to meant, even insignificantly, that you have given away something of your rights, I think it absolutely behooves anyone to spend the time to decide if those random websites are worth it if they make you agree to a EULA that is pages and pages long.

The point about terms may change without prior notice is fair, I still struggle to regularly read the various changes to the TOS for things as simple as my credit card (which have way WAY shittier contracts to read compared to a EULA). Wile I have seen some services which could provide a diff and notify you on changes, I have decided it is better to not use abusive services instead of play a game of cat and mouse with them.


Me too, especially when the presentation of the contract indicates that the other party desires information asymmetry (e.g. they look impatient and try to rush you, or they have a huge contract in a tiny scrolling window on their site). You have to be ready to walk away from the deal too, or why bother?

Still, I see some totally one-sided (and what I believe to be unenforceable) terms sometimes and I may sign anyway. For the other party to actually get what they want requires a lot more work than just getting my signature, and I'm firmly in the "Fucking sue me" camp. Classic blog post from Pud that everyone worried about contracts should read: http://pud.com/post/10103947044/fucking-sue-me


I think a sample report (from a fictitious but plausible contract) would be helpful to clearly explain what the service does.


Thank you for the idea. We were thinking of adding a short video or screenshots when we release the updated Beta version of LawGeex


I really hope this (or something like it) will succeed. There are so many situations, where a lawyer would be helpful, but is too much of a hassle to get involved (often because they are expensive).

AI lawyers giving plain language information and indicating areas where you want to get a real lawyer involved sound pretty neat.

@lawgeex: Your Headline with the Register-Button is weirdly aligned to the left in my browser (Win+FF), not sure if this is intentional. It looks wrong, as all the following sections are well centered.


I had you analyze the monster 37 page lease I just signed for a new apartment. It looked mostly boilerplate to me with several addendums attached. I'm not sure your engine was able to process the PDF, it just sort of spit back a page of "issues" that were garbled text and weird characters. I can't seem to get back to the page I was on now either.


Hi Thank you for trying to upload your monster 37 page lease :) I apologise that LawGeex didn't work. So that we can figure out why it didn't work, I would really appreciate if you can email PDF to contactlg@lawgeex.com so that our tech team can take a look at it. Many thanks


Interesting premise. I often wonder about liability issues in these kind of intermediary cases. The tenant signs agreement on basis of plain English summary. Landlord seeks to enforce agreement. Subsequently it turns out there is an error in the summarisation process and an important clause was missed or incorrectly summarised. Yes, the tenant will be liable to the landlord but a cause of action may be available against the intermediary.

Clearly the intermediary will have various disclaimers in their terms of use but that doesn't greatly assist the tenant and reduces the value of the proposition from the tenant's perspective. Certain disclaimers may be unlawful under consumer protection law also.

I tried to upload the following as a .docx document but got the 'Unsupported document' error.

  RESIDENTIAL LEASE

  Landlord permits you to stay in the property for 6 months from 1 January 2016.
  In consideration you agree to provide Landlord with your firstborn within 30 days of his/her birth, or in the absence of children prior to 1 December 2020, $1,000,000 no later than 1 January 2021.

  ………………………………….
  Landlord

  ……………………………………
  Tenant
As an aside, as a site extolling the virtues of plain English in agreements, I would have thought you could have put some effort into providing plain English terms of use.

Finally, any stats on the territory breakdown between the 60k documents that have been uploaded? Would be fascinated to see this!


> Currently, Lawgeex only supports residential lease agreements

Sadface.


I feel like this would be great from employment contracts and nondisclosure agreements where the asymmetry of the situation is rather large and, depending on the company, the contract may actually be long enough to warrant a professional analysis. Of course, collecting multiple contracts from the same employer would help with pointing out what is actually unusual/normal (for that particular employer).

Residential leases seems like one of the worst contract markets to start off with. Firstly, because what is legal and illegal to put in a lease varies from place to place. For instance, in Ontario, it is illegal to collect a security deposit (a deposit may be collected but it can only be used towards last month's rent). Secondly, what is normal and what is unusual will also vary, most likely on a much finer grained level (ie: by city/town rather than by state/province). Thirdly, you'll have to deal with leases from less-than-professional landlords (e.g. using a lease drafted according to the rather different laws of a different province/state). Fourthly, the lease will vary a lot depending on the landlord (ie: large property management company vs small property manager vs individual owner-landlord) and the accomodations (ie: house vs condo vs apartment).

Lastly, few residential leases need to be more than about 5 pages long, including all the things the landlord has added over the years after being burned by various bad tenants. If there is a problem, the landlord and tenant will either resolve it or: if the landlord wants the tenant to move out, either it is easy to evict or it is difficult to evict but nothing in the lease will change that that much and if the tenant wants to move out, they will break the lease and good luck to the landlord suing the tenant trying to get the money back (the tenant risks very little by breaking the lease if they are not going to rely on the current landlord as a reference for future landlords). I doubt there is a special clause which can be put into a residential lease which will make it more difficult for the tenant to break it.

Then again, I rarely find legalese which I can't parse (although sometimes it seems written in such a way that it will take me a full five minutes) so perhaps I'm not in the target market for this kind of service.


I tried to upload a PDF and a TXT file and it said they were both unsupported :(


This is a GODSEND. Legalese has long been used to irritate and take advantage of customers who don't have time to read every contract. Short of rewriting the laws to require plain english overviews of contracts, this is the next best thing!

Great work guys!

Note: I didn't click on the link the first 3 times I saw it because (of the title) I assumed it was an article telling me I ought to read contracts ;-]


I clicked on Register Now and got a 404 page.


For me,

- 404 when connecting from mozilla android with China IP,

- page crashed on my netbook from chrome with China IP,

- loads fine with mozilla with Japan IP & ublock enabled.


Hi I am sorry that you experienced a 404 page error message. Our tech team is investigating the problem.

Thanks for reporting the problem


It's caused by (some) ad blockers because you call ga() (google analytics) in your javascript which loads through google tag manager which is blocked from loading by default with uBlock for example. This all causing the modal window to not show, leading to a catch error forwarding to your 404 page.


Thank you for bringing this to our attention. You are 100% correct and we fixed the problem


That response sounds an awful lot like customer service at a major ISP, or automatic email replies in helpdesk systems.


Sorry for not coming up with a more original response- but thats the truth :) On our side, everything is working ok, and the site is running well, so our tech guys have to investigate why a user experienced an error


fwiw, with uBlock enabled, the Register link takes me to https://www.lawgeex.com/static/Error.html

If I disable uBlock, it works.


It's a javascript popup. Enable javascript.


I get it too and I have javascript enabled. The URL is https://www.lawgeex.com/static/Error.html - which isn't too helpful for a 404 ! Also, the error page breaks my browser's back button.


Huh... somehow it works on Firefox, but not on my Chromebook. :(


Interesting. NOTE: With cookies disabled, a 404 page is displayed. That's very confusing.


> @2015 LawGeex. All Rights Reserved

Not sure if that's a typo, but I like it. It's different.


Tried a PDF and a .docx and got an << Unsupported document type >> error.


Hi thank you for uploading a doc. Currently we only support residential leases. If you were uploading a residential lease and got this message, i would appreciate if you could email me the doc contactlg@lawgeex.com so our tech team can investigate.


Just the title of this is along the lines of "check if the crocodile is real or plastic before sticking your head in its mouth."



"LawGeex compares your legal document to thousands of others in our database" They should start selling those as well.


Probably cannot. Many databases of this type are constructed with confidentiality agreements.


Just have tried to register, got this:

Server Error in '/' Application. The resource cannot be found.

Firefox/Mac.


Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our tech team will look into this.


I tried to register and was taken to a broken page.


Hi Apologies for the error message. What browser/OS are you using and have you tried registering again? thanks a lot


Chrome/Manjaro, both at the latest.

I haven't tried registering again, the contract I wanted reviewed expires in a few hours so I picked a different method.


Register seems to be crashing under load.


Same here...




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