This is one of the most overlooked aspects of legal design, but it really matters. Your company will have spent a significant proportion of its marketing budget on developing an attractive user-brand, and that should extend to all its user-facing outputs, including Legal.
Don’t think it’s that important, or that maybe it’s “not my job”?
Consider whether a tech company famous for its sleek, minimalist devices should have user terms and conditions running to 39 pages…ask yourself what impression that creates among users of those products?
Or perhaps ponder why a law firm famous for its attention to detail should issue a supplier contract allowing that service deadlines might be suspended for 48 hours in the event of a volcano in central London. Does this give a supplier confidence that the firm won’t miss anything?
Neither example – both true, by the way – speak not to the needs of the end user, but to the needs of a Legal department determined to exclude every single possible conceivable risk.
Equally, if your internal processes are lean, slick and rely heavily on user collaboration via the latest technology, Legal should be no exception. Legal should not be the laggard, it should not be “the complicated bit” or a black hole when it comes to responsiveness. Your own brand within the company matters hugely to acceptance and take-up of what comes out of Legal.
OK, we’ve hammered the point, but this is a very real issue and yes, it causes brand damage.
If you’re trying to be ‘different’ but end up looking and feeling the same as every other company because the foundation of your user contract is fussing and pernickety, you’re failing your mission.
And you’re even at risk of losing business. For instance, if your service Ts&Cs are 50 pages long and threaten all manner of remedies if broken, a user might wonder what you’re trying to hide. They may even decide to use a different supplier whose Ts&Cs are three pages of plain English, nicely laid out so that everything is easily understood.
Sceptical? This last example is exactly why the author of this piece switched electricity companies…