Agree2 creates binding legal documents that won't hold up in court

It's a cool contract management app, but you know what they say: garbage in, garbage out.

Update: Agree2 CEO Pelle Braendgaard takes issue with my argument about the quality of the agreements on his service. Read his rebuttal here.

Agree2 is one part great service and one part really scary idea. It allows users to create, collaborate on, and digitally sign binding legal agreements. But it does nothing to ensure that the agreements are legally sound.

Good part first: with this service, you can either create a new agreement from scratch, or use a template on the service, and easily define the fields (such as the parties in the agreement or the monetary value of it) that can then be filled out by all parties to it. The "signing" is legally binding, CEO Pelle Braendgaard says, even in beta, in part because the service gathers a ton of "evidence" about users' interactions with an agreement.

Agreements can be modified before they are signed, and the service makes sure that all parties agree to edits (or edits of edits) before the contract is finalized.

Agree2 lets you legally agree to contracts online.

Technically, I have no beef with the service. I think it's pretty cool, actually. But although I'm not a lawyer and even though I hate trying to decipher legal agreements when I need to, the service's tacit encouragement to create my own non-lawyer-approved agreements scares the bejeezus out of me. Sure, I could write an agreement between me and someone I'm hiring to rewire my house. And if the contractor I'm working with were new, he or she might even sign it. But it would still, probably, be a crappy agreement. A court might agree that the electronic edits and signatures were binding, but that doesn't mean the agreement would be legally sound. Certainly it wouldn't be complete.

If you want to strike a less-formal agreement with someone--say a scope of work in the office, or a chore schedule in your family--Agree2 looks like good solution. For more serious agreements, get a lawyer. You can use Agree2 to iron out the details and collect the signatures, but for Pete's sake don't skimp on counsel at the start.

The service presents a chain of evidence for all edits and agreements made.

Bonus tidbit: The company eats its own dogfood. The terms of service, which you must sign before using the site, is built in Agree2, and you can modify it before you sign.

See also: Mumboe (Under the Radar coverage).

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