2. Creating concepts

To start drafting your employment agreement, you will have to begin by setting up the basic building blocks that allow you to do so.

Let's begin by making some concepts and putting them in the correct folder in your library. They will act as our defined terms, like "Employer", "Employee", "Salary", etc.

Concepts are central to the functioning of ClauseBase. They have a dual purpose:

  • they map to contractual terms (words that typically get capitalized in formally drafted contracts)
  • they provide a central storage location for data fields, allowing to dynamically change clauses

For example, a typical employment agreement will almost certainly have to use the concepts "contract", “employer” and “employee” — not only because both words would normally be written with an initial capital, but also because various bits of information relating to an employer or an employee will be relevant (like name and address).

For more information on concepts, click here.

Creating dedicated folders

Let’s start by creating the necessary folders to house our concepts in.

Navigate to the  menu item at the top of your screen, and click on the  shortcut on the left side. Let’s first create a folder for employment agreements inside my library:

  • Click on .
  • Inside the window that appears, type in “employment agreements” and click on .

Next, let’s create a subfolder for this folder with all the concepts that we will be creating relating to employment agreements:

  • Double-click on the employment agreements folder you just created in order to go into that folder.

Instead of simply clicking on , you can also hover your mouse pointer over this button for a few seconds. A small popup will appear that shows you that you can create a concepts folder by holding Shift while you click the button.

Contrary to regular folders, special concepts folders — such as the purple concepts folder we just created — will be hidden for users that do not have the privilege to create or modify concepts, because concepts are not of any interest to them. So using Shift-click to create a concepts-folder not only saves you some time, but also provides for a smoother experience for your fellow legal users.

For more information on folders, click here.

Creating the employee concept-file

With the necessary folders in place, we can now start creating our concepts.

Let’s first create the employee concept, by clicking on the  button, and choosing the concept option.

The bottom half of your screen will show the details of the concept file that is about to be created.

For an overview of all the different panes on the right-hand side of the screen and their functionalities, click here. For now, let’s stick to changing the file name of our employee concept:

  • Make sure that the file name pane is active. (If not, click on the relevant option at the right side of the screen.)
  • Change the English file name to “employee”. 
  • Click on  in order to add a French translation.
    • Notice that the color of the file name pane at the right side of your browser changes from blue to purple-red, while the save button at the bottom right corner of your browser will get disabled. This is caused by the fact that the French translation is empty.
    • In the input box that appears, type in “employé”. Notice that as soon as you start typing, the color of the file name pane changes back to blue, and that the save button becomes enabled again
  • Alternatively, you can click on the icon and select "Translate Dutch and French from English" to make use of ClauseBase's automatic translation functionalities.

It is a good idea to frequently save your work. Hit the  button. If successful, you will get a green confirmation at the bottom of your browser; also notice that the file browser gets refreshed, and that a new file appears within the concepts folder.

At any time, you can undo and redo changes to this pane, by clicking on the  buttons at the right side of the screen. Note that any undo/redo will be strictly limited to current file you are editing — any other files that would be opened in the file browser will not be affected when you hit the undo or redo buttons.

At this point in the tutorial, you may start to wonder whether uploading contracts to ClauseBase is always such a laborious process. It is not! — as stated on the introductory page, the software actually contains many features that minimize the amount of manual work that is required. However, for educational purposes, you have to understand what's going on "under the hood".

Creating data fields

In traditional contract drafting, clauses will be completely static: except for automatic references, clauses will not “react” to changes elsewhere in the contract. In ClauseBase, however, clauses can dynamically react to changes. Data fields are the ignition key for this behaviour.

Think about data fields as the little pieces of basic information that you would receive from your (internal or external) client, such as the name of a party, the commencement or termination date of a contract, a product’s unit price in a sales agreement, or the applicable law and competent court in an international agreement. If you are accustomed to using contract templates in your organisation, then these types of information will be the elements that differentiate one contract from another contract that is based on the same template. However, unlike MS Word, ClauseBase will not only allow you to print this information in some clauses, but also optionally cause one or more clauses to be changed in reaction to that information.

In a typical employment agreement, there can be many different types of data fields. Examples would be:

  • the name, company number and contact details of the legal entity that will act as the employer
  • the name and function of the person who will be signing the contract on behalf of the employer
  • the name, function title, benefits and contact details of an employee
  • the commencement date of the contract
  • the monthly salary
  • the geographical location of employment
  • etc.

In a typical MS Word template for an employment agreement, all these pieces of information would probably be represented by placeholders (possibly highlighted so they cannot be missed).

Let’s now create a data field for the employee’s first name.

  • Click on the datafields pane at the right side of your browser window.
  • Click on the button, and choose the first option (text).
You should always select the most appropriate datafield type, because the operations you can do with a datafield further down the road, will depend on it. For example, while you could select a text field to hold the commencement date, doing so will require your users to actually type in a date (with the risk of possible variations — one user would perhaps type in “1st Sept 2018”, while another may type in “01-09-2018”). If you would select a date field instead, then users will get a nice calendar popup from which they can choose. More importantly, with an actual date field, you will be able to perform calculations, such as adding or subtracting months or years in order to arrive at the termination date. None of these calculations are possible if you would have selected a text field, because — from a computer’s perspective — a text such as “1st Sept 2018” is just a bunch of letters in which we human beings happen to see meaning.

You will now see the screen below, in which you can enter the details about the field you just created.

  • Type in “first name” in the input box to the right of internal name.
  • You will get a warning: the internal name of a data field can only consist of a combination of letters, numbers, hyphens or underscores. The problem is that “first name” contains a space — why this is problematic, will soon be shown. Replace the space with a hyphen (“first-name”), and the warning will go away.
  • ClauseBase allows you to define clauses in multiple languages. Right now, we refer to the first-name field in English. In light of our translation to French, it would be appropriate to also have the possibility to refer to this data field with a French translation. Click on the  button, and then on  button in the aliases row that appears. Then type in “prénom” as the French translation of first-name.
  • Next, also create the datafield last-name (French alias nom), address (French alias adresse) and sex (French alias sexe), by clicking on the button, and selecting the text option in the three cases.

Predefined values in data-fields

For the data field sex / sexe, you can add two predefined choices: male and female.

These values will be shown as a dropdown list of options when clauses refer to the sex of an employee, but this sex is not yet known.

ClauseBase allows you to create predefined values in different languages, optionally combined with different labels (potentially also in different languages). However, we will keep things simple for the moment, and just create two predefined values "male" and "female":

  • Click on .
  • In the new input box that appears, type in “male”.
  • Click again on the  button.
  • In the second input box, type in “female”.

Finally, you may also choose to check the option “only the predefined values can be stored (no free values)”This prevents that users creating a document would provide alternative values than those that have been predefined. Why this is preferred for the purpose of this tutorial will be further ahead.

Hit the  button when you are done.

Creating concept labels

Concepts that represent contractual terms (and will therefore typically be written with a capital), should receive one or more predefined concept labels, i.e. contractual terms that will appear in the actual text.

While the user will always have the possibility to define such concept labels himself, it is good practice to predefine relevant concept labels upfront, if there is a possibility that a concept itself (instead of merely its data-fields) will actually be used in the body of a clause. Let’s do so now.

  • Click on  (right side) and navigate to English.
  • Click on  and enter “employee” in the input-box next to singular. After a tiny delay, you will see that the plural (employees) is automatically filled in.
  • In the dropdown-list at the right, choose “defined article (the)”. After all, a typical employee contract will talk about the employee being hired as “the Employee”. Simply “Employee” (without any article) is perhaps also an option, although somewhat unfriendly. “An employee” (undefined article) or “this employee” do not seem appropriate for this kind of concept.
  • If you want, you can refer to the employee as “she” by changing the other dropdown-list from male to female.
  • Create a second concept label “worker” (also with a defined article, male/female as you like) by clicking on  and entering the information as above.
  • Create the concept labels employé and travailleur (with their automatically filled out plural forms), by clicking on the  button, also with a defined article (le / la) and the sex of your choice.
It is not strictly necessary to have both the singular and the plural form filled in: normally one of the two will be sufficient. However, be aware that the concept labels you create, may perhaps also get used by your colleagues in clauses where a mix of singular and plural can sometimes arrive (e.g., in a clause that would state something like “If an employee would interact with other employees, and thereby …”). In such case, the software will need to know both the singular and the plural form.

Hit the  button when you are done.

There are a few more concepts to be made but for the sake of speeding this tutorial along, we have already created them under the menu under the following folder structure.

» Introduction to the ClauseBase grammar


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