Writing Legal Content

Prospect.io publishes many kinds of legal content to protect ourselves and our users around the world. Most of our legal content is written by our lawyers with help from the communication team. This section gives a general overview of the types of legal content we publish and how those documents are written.

For information about laws that apply to non-legal content, see the Copyright and trademark section.

Basics

The way we write, review, and publish legal content is different than how we do many other kinds of writing at Prospect.io. The most important difference is that all legal content either starts with or passes through our lawyers.

But that doesn't mean legal content has to be difficult to read. We try to present our legal information in the most pleasant way possible. Our goals for Prospect.io's legal content are:

  • Accuracy. Our first and foremost concern is that we present the correct information in a truthful way.

  • Clarity. We try to avoid legal jargon and overly formal wording. Our users need to understand the agreement they’re making with us.

  • Succinctness. We want our users to read and understand our legal documents, while also respecting their time.

We publish several types of legal documents, each with their own writing processes and goals.

We keep these in one place on our legal page:

These policies apply to all of Prospect.io’s users. When someone signs up to use Prospect.io, they must agree to all of those terms.

We also publish guides and technical articles about legal concepts that may affect our users. Here are some examples:

The executive team performs periodic reviews of all marketing and technical content to make sure all related links and information is up to date.

Customer service messages

We respond to legal questions from users every day. We answer common CAN-SPAM inquiries, like “Is it legal to send unsolicited emails?” We also see questions about our practices and policies, like “How long is data retained?” and “Where are your servers located?”.

Our support team handles the majority of user communications. If a user raises a legal issue, a support agent will send the proposed reply to the executive team for review.

Common issues can be reviewed and sent by support staff member. More complex issues, or issues threatening litigation or criminal wrongdoing, will be drafted by a support member and then escalated to the executive team then to a lawyer for review.

Public communications

Occasionally we may have to publish communications about security, privacy, and other corporate issues. This could come in the form of an email to users, a blog post, a public statement, or a press release.

The executive team writes and publish these documents.

Guidelines

When writing legal content, generally follow the style points outlined in the Voice and tone and Grammar and mechanics sections. Here are some more general considerations, too.

Start with the facts

We have some standard language that we use for common issues or requests, but since legal content is so fact-specific, we start there before getting into structure and format. That’s why you won’t see many templates for our legal content.

Use plain language

Legal content is serious business, so the tone is slightly more formal than most of our content. That said, we want all of our users to be able to understand our legal content. So whenever possible, we use plain language rather than legal jargon.

Instead of: “If an individual purports, and has the legal authority, to sign these Terms of Use electronically on behalf of an employer or client then that individual represents and warrants that they have full authority to bind the entity herein to the terms of this hereof agreement”

We say: “If you sign up on behalf of a company or other entity, you represent and warrant that you have the authority to accept these Terms on their behalf.”

There are some legal terms we have to include because either there’s not a sufficient plain language alternative, or case law or statute dictates that term has to be used for the contract to hold up in court. For example, sometimes we need to say “represent and warrant” instead of “confirm” or “agree.” If we use those terms, we can provide an example or quick definition to help people understand what they’re reading. We can't avoid all legal terminology, but we can pare it down to what's necessary.

Some companies have complicated terms and write plain-language summaries so people can understand the agreement. We don’t summarize our legal content, but instead try to write the terms themselves in plain language.

Definitions

Using plain language for the terms you define up front can make legal documents easier to read. You’ve probably read contracts that say something like “The Corporation” or “The User” throughout, instead of “we” (meaning the company) and “you” (meaning the user who is agreeing to the terms). There’s a quick fix for that. At the beginning of the document, say something like:

  • Prospect.io is owned and operated by Prospect.io SPRL d/b/a Prospect.io ("us", "we", "Prospect.io", or "our"). As a user of the Service or a representative of an entity that’s a user of the Service, you're a “Member” according to this agreement (or “you”).

After that, you’re free to use “we,” “us,” “you,” and “your” throughout the rest of the agreement. That simple change makes the document much friendlier to read.

Contractions

We use contractions in many of our legal documents, which makes them sound more human and flow better with the rest of our content. Contracting words doesn't affect the validity of an agreement.

Never offer legal advice

While we want to inform our users about legal issues related to their use of Prospect.io, we can’t offer them legal advice. Sometimes it’s a fine line. The executive team will check for this in their content review.