Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about OpenLaw.

What is OpenLaw?

OpenLaw is a blockchain-based protocol for the creation and execution of legal agreements. Using OpenLaw, lawyers can more efficiently engage in transactional work and digitally sign and store legal agreements in a highly secure manner, all while leveraging next generation blockchain-based smart contracts.

Using OpenLaw, you can create “legal templates” which can be enhanced using our “Legal Markup” language. Our Legal Markup language is akin to Wikipedia’s “wiki text” with greater functionality and enables anyone to wrap logic and other contextual information around traditional legal prose.

What is the legal markup language? Is it difficult to learn if I don’t have a technical background?

Our Legal Markup language is comprehensive and provides the tools necessary to create truly programmable legal agreements. Currently, OpenLaw’s markup language supports if → then logic, aliasing, multi-variable expressions, hidden variables, and can even perform basic calculations.

The OpenLaw markup language provides an easy way for anyone to reference and trigger an Ethereum-based smart contract to manage contractual promises.

Should I mark up the agreement in Microsoft Word or on the OpenLaw protocol?

You can mark up your agreement using the OpenLaw protocol. Once an agreement is uploaded onto OpenLaw, you can mark it up by clicking the red ‘source’ button.

You can also link separate documents together into a ‘deal’ as well. Check out OpenLaw’s markup language to learn how to do so.

How does OpenLaw interact with blockchain technology?

A contract can be created via OpenLaw. Once the agreement is signed, a cryptographic hash of the agreement will be created and recorded to the Ethereum blockchain. In other words, using OpenLaw, any Ethereum smart contract can be embedded into a legal agreement in a few lines and automatically triggered once the agreement is digitally signed by all parties.

How does OpenLaw work with ConsenSys?

ConsenSys is a venture production studio building decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain network. OpenLaw is a ‘spoke’ of the greater ConsenSys ‘mesh.’ This spoke-and-hub model is what ConsenSys does to organize its ever-flowing and ever-growing global formation of developers, entrepreneurs, creatives, lawyers, and technologists.

How do I create a new agreement onto OpenLaw?

You can create an agreement onto OpenLaw in two ways. The first is to upload a Word document under the ‘Agreements’ tab. Right now, OpenLaw is compatible with Microsoft Word and plain text, and we will eventually allow you to upload PDFs as well.

If you’d prefer to not upload a document, you can create an OpenLaw agreement by clicking ‘Start from Scratch.’ Here you get a blank slate to draft whatever agreement you would like to. You can also copy and paste an agreement in this space.

What is the distinction between an OpenLaw Agreement, Templates and Drafts/Contracts?

Drafts/Contracts are available to users who have been explicitly invited by an OpenLaw account holder to sign said draft/contract. Drafts can be viewed in Manage > Draft Management. OpenLaw Agreements which have been finalized and signed by both parties (or just awaiting to be signed by a party) can be viewed under Manage > Contract Management.

Agreements and Templates are available to everyone with a certain level of privilege on the protocol. Privileges vary between Admin of an account and approved users of the Admin.

How do I see when and what agreements have been uploaded?

Once you upload an agreement, it is saved and available in the ‘All Agreements’ tab. You can search for the agreement by the name created upon saving the Agreement.

What does the ‘contract management’ tab do?

The ‘contract management’ tab gives users the ability to have oversight over what contracts have been executed on the Ethereum blockchain. As of now the contract management tool gives you the following information: contract drafted by the user, the signatories of the contract (including the status of who has signed), and a date and time stamp of when the contract was created. You will also have access to download a Word copy and a JSON file of the agreement there as well.

We plan to add more features to the contract management piece of OpenLaw as time goes on. We plan to automate and provide notifications to contract parties (e.g., send notifications of a contract renewal period or log terms of enforceability, etc.).

How does an OpenLaw signature process work?

You can sign an agreement on OpenLaw by including the requisite markup language Identity variable. It will likely look like the following: [[Signatory Email: Identity]]. Once a party receives an e-mail notification to sign an agreement and clicks the ‘sign’ button, the signature is then recorded in both the agreement and the Ethereum blockchain.

How can I purchase OpenLaw?

Our aim, at OpenLaw, is to keep things accessible and open as possible. We hope to keep all of the openlaw.io agreements publicly available. We will have more clarity on pricing once our release happens around the middle of this year. Stay tuned!

What are ‘private instances’ and how do I get one? Are documents shared between openlaw.io and private instances?

At OpenLaw, we understand that some agreements are meant to be private. Because of this, we’ve given users the ability to have their own private version of OpenLaw in order to keep agreements out of public view. The documents are not shared from private instances to openlaw.io. With that said, we pre-populate private instances with a few frequently used agreements from openlaw.io such as NDAs and Employee Onboarding agreements.

You can request a private instance by clicking on Request a Private Instance from openlaw.io's main page. Note that the link is only visible if you are logged out.

How can you confirm the identity of the counter-signatory?

Right now, OpenLaw confirms identity through e-mail login and password. Eventually we plan to confirm identity by leveraging a third party identity solution.

Can anyone just edit a document on openlaw.io? Isn't it concerning that a malicious actor could edit the agreements?

At OpenLaw, we intend to be a “knowledge commons,” in that we want to have users from all over the world to contribute content and code to our public repository. While it is possible that malicious actors may delete vital information, we have built versioning which allows users to have access to prior saved documents. It would be very easy for a user to go back to a saved prior version of an agreement.

In addition, OpenLaw community may have the ability to track a malicious actor and remove them from the system if they are engaging in such nefarious activity.

What if I want to change my password after logging on? Can I link multiple emails to my single OpenLaw account?

If you’d like to change your password after logging on go to Manage > Manage Profile. From there, you should be able to easily change your password. You can also reset your password if you have forgotten it.

If you’d like to use another e-mail address, you can add your e-mail by requesting that the Admin invite the new e-mail address. You can also sign up again from the main page of the site once locked out. If you are the Admin of your instance then you can add an account by going to the Admin tab and clicking ‘Add User’ and inputting the new user’s e-mail address.

We are working on integrating common identity providers such as Google into our platform to enable users to log into our site via accounts they already have.