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Keeping it Lean

Keeping it Lean

You know what they say – treat them mean, keep them keen.

We prefer to treat them lean. From our business model to our legal documents, we’ve found that lean leads to happier clients.

Last week, we hosted a ‘lean documents’ pre-conference session for the International Bar Association’s (IBA) 4th Annual European Startup Conference focused on leaner and more user-friendly startup investment documents.

The lean documents project is an initiative started by a number of leading start up lawyers and firms within Europe, with the IBA’s support, to create a pan-European standard investment agreement.

Over 50 lawyers from leading jurisdictions have been involved in the lean documents project for over 18 months.  The initiative is being led by Antonia Verna (Portolano Cavallo, Milan, Italy), Jens Wenzel (Hengeler Mueller, Berlin, Germany) and Marco Rizzi (Bratschi, Zurich, Switzerland).

Unsure what lean documents are?

Lean documents are more concise and comprehensible documents that provide exactly the information that is needed and nothing more.

You know the stereotype of legal documents. Thousands of pages of waffly legal-ease that take forever to draft and cover every contingency. Even the Zombie apocalypse is covered by Amazon’s Terms of Service (see clause 57.10 of the AWS Terms of Service if you don’t believe us).

Yet by keeping legal documents lean, they’re quicker to draft and negotiate, more customer friendly to read and ultimately more efficient.

Lean documents also have significant international benefits. They decrease the time it takes for legal documents to be transported or translated due to their shorter length. They increase accuracy as there’s less scope for errors to be made when disseminating documents across borders. They even open up the path towards achieving a standardised approach towards certain types of legal documents.

However, lean documents also come with their own unique challenges. They must strike the right balance between legal certainty and flexibility. They must be detailed enough to cover the main points, without becoming so detailed that they’re no longer lean. They must also be accepted by the relevant players (particularly the lawyers, courts and judges), and any other associated persons.

During the session, we discussed a lean approach to a venture capitalist investment agreement. By exploring how certain clauses could be simplified in a more user-friendly fashion, our group of specialised lawyers from eighteen jurisdictions provided their insight into the benefits and challenges of lean documents.

At Peregrine we are determined to make a difference and help modernise the legal industry for its customers and other key stakeholders. As such, we are really pleased to have found so many like-minded lawyers at the IBA.

Big thanks to Antonia Verna (Portolano Cavallo, Milan, Italy), Jens Wenzel (Hengeler Mueller, Berlin, Germany), Marco Rizzi (Bratschi, Zurich, Switzerland) and all the other great people and their law firms who are involved in this ambitious project.