The dangers of using “standard” or template legal documents

This post is a part of a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?
  5. Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business.

Template and automated legal documents are increasing in popularity.

For years there have been many websites offering standard contracts for download. Most of these have a US/European law focus, but the past couple of years have seen some similar services launched in Asia.

Some of these websites offer a very comprehensive collection of legal documents which address the needs of startups and small businesses in particular — everything from NDAs to equity investment agreements are available for download, usually with a fee.

Say no to cookie-cutter contracts.
Say no to cookie-cutter contracts.

My cover slide for this part of the workshop reads: “Be very very very very careful when using standard contracts” — I’m not sure whether I should have added a few more ‘very’s to statement.

Business owners should be extremely cautious when using these legal documents.

Continue reading

The complete series: DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — the end of lawyers?

We’ve come to the end of the series of posts based on my presentation at The End of Lawyers, the Future of Law, which was the launch event for the Collective of Applied Law and Legal Realism.

Those who think you can complete a conveyancing transaction without a lawyer please raise your hands.
Those who think you can complete a conveyancing transaction without a lawyer please raise your hands.

My overall conclusion is that obviously conveyancing lawyers aren’t going to be redundant anytime soon, but I’m hopeful for changes which will make the conveyancing process less of a maze. Certainty and clarity will be good for everyone (including lawyers).

Continue reading

Ideating the future — how DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions can become the new reality

This post is the final post in the series.

Please read the following earlier posts for context:

  1. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — can we really do it without lawyers?
  2. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — why some people think you don’t need lawyers in a sale and purchase of property.
  3. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — understanding the basics of a sale and purchase property.
  4. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — sale and purchase and loan agreements.
  5. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — time for a reality check.

From what we’ve discussed so far, it’s obvious that currently the ideal is very far from reality.

The conveyancing ecosystem in Malaysia means that a non-lawyer intending to complete a sale and purchase agreement without a lawyer will end up entering a maze. It’s dangerous, it’s complicated, and it’s impossible.

Ideating the future of a conveyancing transaction.
Ideating the future of a conveyancing transaction.

I’m sure that the organisers know this — that “DIY conveyancing” isn’t possible now. But the purpose of the project is to ideate solutions for the future.

What needs to change for DIY conveyancing to be possible? Hopefully CALR and others can come up with some solutions. Here are my quick thoughts before everyone gets to ideating.

Continue reading

Oversights which could destroy your startup or small business

This post is a part of a series based on my Law for Startups workshop at MaGIC in September 2015. It’s a basic introduction to legalities for startup founders. You can access the slides here.

Read the earlier posts for context:

  1. Law for startups in Malaysia — building on the best foundations.
  2. The legal landscape in Malaysia for startups — a hybrid of traditional corporate practices and Silicon Valley models.
  3. Choosing the right business vehicle for your startup or small business in Malaysia.
  4. When should a startup hire a lawyer?

The opening slide for this part of the workshop reads — “Don’t let your business end up like the Titanic”.

Not something your startup wants to see in its journey.
Not something your startup wants to see in its journey.

Continue reading

DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — time for a reality check

This post is part of an on-going series. Please read the following earlier posts for context:

  1. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — can we really do it without lawyers?
  2. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — why some people think you don’t need lawyers in a sale and purchase of property.
  3. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — understanding the basics of a sale and purchase property.
  4. DIY legal documents for conveyancing transactions — sale and purchase and loan agreements.

The earlier posts provided a very quick tour of what’s involved in a basic sale and purchase of property.

We had an ideal earlier about conveyancing being essentially about swapping the keys for money — but what is the reality?

The ideal from an earlier post:
The ideal from an earlier post: “Let’s swap! Who needs lawyers anyway?”

Continue reading