Transactional lawyers are the target users of a new Web site, TransactionSpace, that aims to make the deal-making process more efficient, intuitive and transparent. The site’s tagline sums up its purpose: “You do the lawyering. Let TransactionSpace manage the process.”
The site takes the three primary steps of a transaction — negotiation, document drafting and closing — and integrates them within an online management tool. Lawyers who use it would begin by identifying the documents the transaction will require and the parties who will have to sign each document. The system will then track the back-and-forth of negotiating and revising the wording of each document, maintaining a full record of versions and dates. Once the documents are done, the system prepares the necessary signature pages and delivers them to the appropriate parties. As signatures are sent back, they are held in escrow until all necessary signatures are in and the deal can be closed.
As all this moves forward, progress is shown graphically in a matrix depicting documents and signatories. This allows users to see the linear progression of drafts and track the status of signatures in real time.
Here is how a typical transaction would work:
1. The lawyer logs on to her home page and creates a new deal. She enters the names of the parties and the agreements the deal will require. She sends e-mails to other lawyers inviting them to participate in the deal within TransactionSpace.
2. The lawyers post their drafts and redlined documents. As new versions are uploaded, the lawyers are always able to know which is the latest version of any document and the document’s current status.
3. The lawyers assign parties to each document, telling TransactionSpace which signatures will be required on which documents. A tool creates a separate signature block for each party. It also creates preamble language identifying the document and the signature date.
4. When the documents are final, they are transmitted to the correct parties for signature. As each signature is sent back by e-mail or fax, the matrix shows the status in real time. The signatures of parties other than your own clients are kept in escrow until all necessary signatures are returned.
5. Once all signatures are in, they are released from escrow and the deal is made final. Final versions of all signed documents can be downloaded and TransactionSpace also generates a closing book for each lawyer.
While TransactionSpace is in beta, there is no charge to use it. The developers, who are lawyers, have not decided on post-beta pricing, but say it will be based on a flexible, pay-as-you-go subscription. “We believe that simple, affordable technologies, which ultimately reduce legal fees, are crucial for law firms to survive their current struggle,” one told me in an e-mail. Updates about the site will be posted on the TransactionSpace blog.