Posted on Monday, May 28th, 2012 by Danny Davies
DOCRACY aims to do for legal documents what Wikipedia has done for general knowledge: completely democratize it. It’s a collaborative database of legal documents for anything from a non-disclosure agreement to an apartment lease (and more). You can access and edit the documents, and even sign them as well.
Docracy is pretty much a web service for anyone (currently anyone American) who needs a legal document drafted, but doesn’t have the finances or budget to hire a lawyer to do it for them. If you need a standard legal agreement, it’s likely to be up on the Docracy database, which potentially makes Docracy a useful resource for anything quick / simple you or your business needs. The bundles of documents for similar scenarios (see the startup documents bundle for example) is particularly interesting.
On the other hand, Docracy certainly doesn’t substitute the need to hire an attorney for most circumstances – you can’t really rely on a form you’ve found on the Internet if there’s an important agreement or a large amount of finance at stake. For a start, although you can modify the documents, you could unwittingly be drafting an agreement that won’t hold up legally if something goes wrong: A short term saving can often turn into a greater expense in the long term, fixing a badly drafted contract.
If you need a standard document fast and cheap – whether it’s an incorporation document for your startup, a power of attorney or living will, or a lease agreement on a new apartment – Docracy is a useful resource. Uniquely it’s free to access, you can modify any document and re-publish it to the database, legally sign any of the documents, and join the growing community. While a lawyer would always be recommended for anything even remotely complicated, there’s no doubt that a free, open source legal documents service – almost a legal wikipedia – is a genuinely useful online service indeed. Watch this space!