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Technology and automation are reshaping the landscape of many industries, and the legal industry in all practice areas is seeing the impacts of these changes. Contracts form part of our daily lives as consumers and as legal practitioners, yet in many ways agreements we sign today are very similar to ones we signed hundreds of years ago.
How might we re-design contracts so they are readable and understandable for all the people that use them, and not just lawyers? Can we craft contracts that work for computers and humans? Would increasing readability have an impact on the bottom line of a business?
This subject explores these ideas and encourages students to think about new ways to design contracts in the era of automation. We examine the legal requirements of electronic contracts, ways to increase contract readability, how to plan a contract redesign project, developing effective processes, identify targets for automation and introducing visual elements to contracts.
Students will identify and evaluate appropriate automation technology for their client and contract needs, develop skills to interpret instructions and gather user input for contract design, and will get hands on experience in generating an automated document and process.
The subject will also explore the legal and ethical issues surrounding a lawyer’s duty of clear communication and the duty to act in the best interest of a client. Students will develop advanced critical thinking skills and knowledge of the legal issues arising from electronic contracting. Recent legal developments in this field will be explored.
Principal topics will include:
- Introduction to contract automation and design
- Duty of clear communication and values based contracting
- Contract document redesign
- Electronic contracting and the law
- Contract process redesign
- Technology for automation
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- have the knowledge and skills necessary to analyse and synthesise information and problems associated with contract automation.
- be a sophisticated and engaged participant in legal issues around electronic contracts, contract design and automation.
- have an advanced understanding of the importance of contract design and demonstrate autonomy and expert judgment in evaluating technologies and developing strategies for good contract automation and document assembly.
- have the judgment and comunication skills necessary to negotiate contracts, convey complex information and have an advanced understanding of the importance of values and, duty to client.
Expected skills developed through successful completion of the subject:
- Well-developed competencies in legal analysis;
- Problem solving abilities, including through the collection and evaluation of information;
- Capacity to communicate, orally and in writing;
- Ability to evaluate and synthesise existing knowledge in the area;
- Capacity for critical and independent thought and reflection;
- Capacity for self-directed learning, organisation and time management.
Last updated: 10 November 2023