I'm excited about the new crop of law startups that are offering what I like to call "mass customization" or "pareto law". That is, 80% of clients have the same needs, 80% of the contractual language/work is standardized, and it's only the last 20% that's actually customized to a client's needs. Note though that I don't think the 80/20 rule applies to litigation. Fairdocument (SF) seems to be doing this for estate planning because, let's face it-- if you're married, have two kids without special needs, and are worth less than a couple million, you probably have the same needs as 80% of the American population. Snapterms (LA) is using the 80/20 rule for terms of service, as co-Founder Hansen Tong explains below.
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am the co-founder of SnapTerms, and also provide legal services through my law firm, Kelly Warner Law. I specialize in what people call “Internet Law,” so I generally work with startups, online companies, internet business owners, and internet marketing firms. I advise clients on terms of service, privacy policies, COPPA, TCPA, Can-Spam, CDA, and DCMA. My firm also helps with contracts, funding, corporate governance, and some intellectual property. Essentially, we help companies with what they deal with on the Internet.
Tell me more about SnapTerms.
Why this workflow?
It makes things more efficient and keeps costs down.
How did you guys get started?
We’ve been operating for about two years. In my regular law practice, we work with lots of companies, but the rate we charge for drafting is generally more than what some bootstrapping entrepreneurs are willing to pay.
What are terms of service? Why and when would an online business need that?
It’s a contract between you and your online clients or customers. For example, what if a customer buys something and it breaks? You need a document that explains your return policy. A TOS is basically a relationship document that outlines a company’s policies and its relationship with its customers.
How about privacy policies?
And what are the consequences if you don’t have either one of these?
I like Pinterest’s TOS because they break down the legalese into little blurbs that decipher the language for average users. Most users don’t understand the TOS, so anything that can give them clear guidance always stands out.
What is SnapTerm’s greatest challenge?
We’re looking for funding and trying to expand and diversify our document offerings. We’ve already gotten past the idea state and are now thriving but the challenge for us is scaling while making sure that our customer is satisfied and that we’re doing things the right way.