Basic Clause Author Tutorial

Part 1: 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 act as contractual terms (words that typically get capitalized in formally drafted contracts)
  • they provide a central storage location for datafields, i.e. pieces of information that allow you to dynamically change clauses

For example, a typical employment agreement will almost certainly have to use the contractual terms “Contract”“Employer” and “Employee” — not only because these words would normally be written with an initial capital, but also because various bits of information relating to the contract/employer/employee will be relevant (like commencement date, name and address).

For more in-depth information on concepts, click here.

The two purposes of datafields (acting as contractual terms and as a storage location for variable information) do not always overlap. While you will have to create concepts for each contractual term (i.e. “Contract“, “Employer” or “Employee“) to be able to dynamically refer to them, it is perfectly conceivable that you create concepts for the sole purpose of acting as a storage location for datafields. This will be particularly useful in more complex contracts.

Creating dedicated folders

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

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

  • Click on and create a new regular folder.
  • Inside the dialog box 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.
  • Click on and create a new concepts-folder.
  • Double-click the newly created concepts-folder to navigate into it.

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 yourself and your fellow legal users.

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.

The dividing line between the upper and bottom half of the current screen can be adjusted. If you are working with a smaller screen, you may want to hover your mouse over this line until your mouse pointer changes, then click, hold and slide upwards to enlarge the bottom half.

Let’s change 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 .
    • Notice that the color of the File name pane at the right side of your browser changes from blue to purple, 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.

For an overview of all the different panes on the right-hand side of the screen and their functionalities, click here.

It is a good idea to frequently save your work. Accordingly, please press 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 isn’t! — as stated on the introductory page, the software actually contains many features that minimise the amount of manual work that is required. However, for educational purposes, you have to understand what’s going on “under the hood”. In the future, you may want to take a look here to learn how to import clauses directly from an MS Word document.

Creating datafields

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. Datafields are the ignition key for this behaviour.

Think about datafields as the little pieces of basic information that you would receive from your 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 based on the same template. In traditional contract templates in MS Word, such pieces of information would probably be presented as placeholders (possibly highlighted — e.g. in yellow — so they cannot be missed). 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 datafields. 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.

Let’s now create a datafield 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 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 datafield 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 datafield with a French translation. Click on the  button, and then on the  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.
  • Click once again.

Predefined values in datafields

For the datafield 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 female.
  • Click again on the  button.
  • In the second input box, type in male.

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 labelsi.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 datafields) will actually be used in the body of a clause. Let’s do so now.

  • Click on Concept labels at the 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, make sure that Defined (the) is selectedAfter 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 navigating to the French side of the concept labels and 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 Tutorials menu under the following folder structure.