How to write a (productive) contract

Are you tired of the drudgery and admin that comes along with contract preparation and contract management?

Maybe you’re a paralegal who has to put together contracts. You might be a solo lawyer at a start-up company. Perhaps you work in procurement or contract management.

However you touch contracts, there are ways to make them more productive… and you don’t need a top tier law firm or expensive consultants.

All you need is a bit of tenacity and a desire to live in the future. If you want faster, fairer contracts, if you want your contracts to do more, and smoothly slide through the approvals process so customers sign on the bottom line sooner, then read on!

Reverse Sandwich Contracting is the secret weapon of contract productivity and the key to going paperless


Productivity is broadly about how well people combine resources to produce goods and services. Contract productivity is similar to other types of business productivity. If you reduce the costs or time it takes to deliver a service or create a good to sell, then you have increased your productivity.

Similarly, if you can reduce the time, resources & brain strain needed to produce a contract, you can use those resources elsewhere. This makes you more productive.

You can make similar reductions for the life of a contract – for dispute resolution, renewal, termination, variations – then you can 10x the productivity of your contracts. This is what a productive contract can do for your business.

So, how can we optimise contracts for productivity, paperless offices and automated processes without paying thousands for bespoke software, learning how to code, or clearing the calendar for months?

The answer is Reverse Sandwich Contracting


When I began experimenting with electronic contracts (i.e. contracts signed electronically) I was ecstatic to banish the horrible piles of paper lying around. Not to mention the mind-numbing repetitiveness of scanning documents in… chasing signatures… mailing things out… Urgh. What a pain!


As I began testing out off-the-shelf software to build automated contract workflows, I saw the power of these applications to extend a legal team. It was like having an Executive Assistant & an experienced Paralegal working around the clock. Our legal team could provide self-service on demand with virtual, automated assistance.

We could be almost everywhere, see almost everything and fix things rapidly. Legal was no longer the bottleneck (or BPU as some called us… Business Prevention Unit!).

Business Prevention UnitHandbrake to Happiness… How do clients think of your law firm or legal team? (Photo Credit: Alex Jodoin)


Lots of software applications promise to create amazing contracts and automate the whole contract process. Some even offer ongoing contract life cycle management or machine learning to extract further data and metrics. The applications have the potential to be amazing.

The development costs are extremely high development costs and there’s then ongoing costs. When someone else creates a solution for you, you then lose a degree of control and flexibility. Bespoke solutions are extremely expensive and take a long time to develop, even for one contract type.

These solutions were too slow to build. The entry point was too high. It didn’t make sense to spend large chunk of resources to automate just one document.


Reverse Sandwich Contracting is for you if you don’t have a massive, $100k+ legal tech budget for one contract. If you don’t have weeks to set aside for teaching external consultants about your contracts. If you want a productive contract. If you want a process for making your contracts faster, clearer, readable, searchable, and actually useable. If you want to go paperless but aren’t sure how to optimise contracts for a paperless office.

All you need for Reverse Sandwich Contract success is a few hours here and there to set up the documents and learn a few new skills. You’ll soon be on your way to contract productivity heaven.

You can use Microsoft Word and DocuSign, but the Reverse Sandwich Contracting method works with almost any type of contract, with pretty much any electronic signature platform.


Can I reverse sandwich my paper-based contracts too?

Yes! Whilst Checklist Legal is a pusher of all things paperless, if you’re not ready to go full paper bare yet, that’s okay.

Even if you still use paper-based contracts and wet ink signatures, Reverse Sandwich-ing your contracts will speed up your paper processes also. Part of the beauty of Reverse Sandwich Contracting is it works on almost any platform.


We know we want our documents to be productive, negotiated fast, signed quickly, and managed more by the business, less by the legal team. Even better if the lifecycle of the document can be digital and automated.

How do you structure a contract so you get all the certainty and legal punch of a paper based contract with the productivity gains of digitisation and automation?


Reverse Sandwich Contracting is a silly name but it is the crux of a proven method for making fast, usable, productive contracts. When you Reverse Sandwich a contract, you get:

  • A contract that is more “hands off” from the legal team – a productivity win for lawyers and the business.
  • A clear & easy to use contract for lawyers and non-lawyers alike – really use, not just put in a draw & forgotten about.
  • A contract that gives greater management & control over the contractual process as well as the contractual document itself.

Reverse Sandwich Contracting is a method that encourages you to think digitally about contracts and the contractual process.

Firstly, think of a standard sandwich:

  • Lots of standard boring bread on the outside and the exciting tasty stuff in the middle
  • You can’t always see what’s inside the sandwich
  • There could be things in there you didn’t order
  • You have to lift up the boring bread to see the good stuff inside
  • There’s a lot of boring bread compared to tasty fillings
A sandwich you can't see inside of What’s going on in there? A standard sandwich doesn't let you see much of what's inside it. Same for a standard contract. (Credit Asnim Asnim)

What’s going on in there? A standard sandwich doesn’t let you see much of what’s inside it. Same for a standard contract. (Credit Asnim Asnim)

This is what the standard contract is like. The things which make the contract unique to each situation are hard to find and difficult to edit easily. The important terms are buried. Hidden.

A standard contract:

  • Lots of standard boring terms on the outside which mask the key terms in the middle
  • You can’t always see what’s inside the contract easily
  • There could be key terms in there you didn’t order or agree to
  • You have to go through the entire contract to hunt for the key terms
  • There’s a lot of boring basic terms compared to key terms

See the below two examples of standard format contracts. You can also click on the images to download a PDF copy on why we need to reverse the sandwich.

Reverse Sandwich Contracting - Why we need to reverse the sandwich (Checklist Legal, Verity White)

Click on the above image to open PDF

Reverse Sandwich Contracting - Why we need to reverse the sandwich (Checklist Legal, Verity White)

Click the above image to open in PDF.

As a result, a standard format contract takes a long time to negotiate, is hard to read, & is difficult to navigate when questions arise.

What we want to do is reverse the sandwich. pull out the ingredients from inside and ditch some of the boring bread. We’re going to put the good, important stuff on the outside. Now we have good stuff on the outside – top & bottom – and a bit of bread in the middle. A reverse sandwich!

With a reverse sandwich, you can see what you're eating <em>before</em> you bite into it. The same goes for a <strong>Reverse Sandwich Contract</strong>, you know what you are getting into before you take a bite. (<span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="">Credit Ellio O</a></span>) Boost Contract Productivity

With a reverse sandwich, you can see what you’re eating before you bite into it. The same goes for a Reverse Sandwich Contract, you know what you are getting into before you take a bite. (Credit Ellio O)

Compare this to a Reverse Sandwich Contract, where we get a document that is:

  • ready for electronic signatures;
  • not filled with unnecessary terms, pages or process steps;
  • client-friendly;
  • usable for non-lawyers & lawyers;
  • optimised for automated workflows;
  • ready for paperless offices;
  • a delight to read;
  • easy to sign;
  • stress-free to manage;
  • fast to navigate;
  • simple to vary later (see Reverse Sandwich Contract Variations);
  • painless to adjust for different parties; and
  • futuristic and sexy!


So how does our Reverse Sandwich Contract look? This basic agreement that has been Reverse Sandwich-ed.

Reverse Sandwich Contracting - Page 1- The Sandwich Explained (Checklist Legal, Verity White) Boost Contract Productivity

Click on the above image for more detail in a PDF

Reverse Sandwich Contracting - Page 2- The Sandwich Explained (Verity White, Checklist Legal) Boost Contract Productivity

Click on the above image for more detail in a PDF

Reverse Sandwich Contracting - Page 1- The Sandwich Explained (Checklist Legal, Verity White) Boost Contract Productivity

Click on the above image to open PDF

Reverse Sandwich Contracting - Page 1- The Sandwich Explained (Checklist Legal, Verity White) Boost Contract Productivity

Click on the above image to open PDF

See the difference? Which format would you rather use to locate information? Which agreement is faster to negotiate?


The very basic structure of a Reverse Sandwich Contract is:

  1. Key Details Table
  2. Terms that don’t change
  3. Schedule/s

The ultimate aim of a productive contract is:

  • Good stuff we often need to know or that often changes at the front (Key Details Table) & back (Schedule)
  • Standardised stuff that doesn’t change in the middle (Standard Terms).

Golden rule: If it changes regularly, pull it from the middle & put it up the front into a Key Details table or at the back into a Schedule.


If you are ready to take your agreements to the next level click below.
Yes! I want to make amazing digital contracts!
Secrets of Productive COntracts eBook by Verity WHite


Give your business a productivity boost. See how much time you’ll save with productive contracts & digitally inspired contract drafting!

💡   Think about contracts digitally, paperlessly & productively.

🔧  10x your contract productivity with by testing electronic signature applications. Many of them have free 30 day trials such as DocuSign or are completely free for basic use like HelloSign.

🍔  Increase your contract productivity, try Reverse Sandwich Contracting!


So what do you think? Will Reverse Sandwich Contracts boost your office productivity and speed up your contract management process?

Posted in Contracts, Electronic, Legal Tech, Legal Visuals, Productivity, Reverse Sandwich Contracts, Visual Contracts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .


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