If you’ve ever been asked to sign a contract filled with page after page of the most incomprehensible legalese, then you’ll appreciate the work of Seth Redniss.
The attorney, a member at WeWork Soho, is the creator of Level. Instead of starting from complex long-form documents, Level’s software makes sure that people considering working together discuss and agree on the issues that are most important to them. Using easy-to-understand language, they can communicate in real time, approve, or reject changes, and, once all the terms are ironed out, sign electronically and receive a custom finished document.
The upshot? A clear contract that can be negotiated in a matter of minutes.
“There’s nothing that’s intimidating or even complicated about a legal contract,” says Redniss. “But the language that we use can make it seem that way. A good contract should reflect what was actually agreed, just like a check at the end of a meal that should accurately list what you ate.”
Redniss has set up a special login for WeWork members wanting to try out Level. Simply open the platform and sign in with the username “we” and the password “work.”
He demonstrates his point with a non-disclosure agreement, a document that many people and companies use to protect their intellectual property when hiring a new staffer, working with an outside contractor, or talking to a potential partner. They are often many pages long and written in language that’s difficult to decipher.
“The real problem,” Redniss says, “is not even that the documents are long and complex. It’s that people spend so much time trying to decipher someone else’s arbitrary documents that they may never discuss what’s most relevant to them. Written agreements come after terms are agreed, not before. Level lets anyone do this.”
Level’s non-disclosure agreement couldn’t be simpler. None of the sections is longer than a sentence or two. And all the negotiable terms of the agreement can easily fit on a single page, calling out up front the specific confidential materials that need to be shared.
What if you want to make some changes? You can propose them with Level. The other side can easily see your changes and decide whether or not to accept them with handy thumbs-up or thumbs-down symbols.
“What I’m doing is making sure this is a collaborative process,” says Redniss. “We’re making sure everything is transparent.”
After negotiating thousands of contracts over the past 14 years, Redniss says he realized that even the most experienced executives don’t understand the deals they are making. That’s because they skip the discussion about the key points.
“A business relationship is like any kind of relationship,” says Redness. “To really have a meetings of the minds, you need to be able to talk about what’s important.”
Redniss says the name of the software comes from his desire to “level the playing field” for everyone involved.
“I learned kind of the hard way,” Redniss says. “I was involved in some of the highest profile cases in the country. I was on my own, battling with organizations with unlimited resources. I saw the unfairness of how unlimited money and resources substitute for fairness. Fairness should be non-negotiable.”
Redniss, who became a member of WeWork earlier this year, says that he’s been gratified by the feedback he’s gotten so far about the software.
“We’ve had a really great response,” he says. “People we’ve talked to love the simplicity of it, and the fact that it’s available 24/7 and on your phone. And another thing they also love is that they don’t have to wait for a lawyer.”
Photos: Katelyn Perry