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Content management systems are a great way to organize content and present it in a coherent way to users of the marketplace app. Other departments use standard content management systems to present product features, blog content, company mission statements, and other pieces of content.
Some companies also use it to present their terms of service and other user agreements - especially companies whose legal teams depend on marketing to track and update their terms.
However, this is not best practice and can cause more trouble for your legal teams in the long run. Relying on a content management system that is not designed to manage legal content can render that legal content useless, leaving a business exposed to unnecessary risk.
Here are some reasons a standard web CMS cannot substitute for a legal center built with legal in mind.
A standard content management system is incapable of tracking terms in keeping with the requirements of legal. While there are some CMS that will track changes made to content over time, often legal content’s tracking needs go beyond what a web CMS is capable of.
For example, a company will need to track acceptance of their specific terms presented via clickwrap at any given hour, but a standard CMS cannot track this information. In particular, a web CMS has difficulty collecting acceptance data of terms that have been updated to adhere to changes in the law.
Forcing users to re-accept automatically if they are not up to date, and being able to track who that would pertain to are not tasks that a web CMS is necessarily built to facilitate.
In order to be enforceable, legal content needs to be presented to the users of your marketplace app. (This is why browsewraps are trash - they don’t effectively present terms to the customer.) Certain types of legal agreements/policies must be disclosed in a particular way - for example, according to CCPA, businesses must disclose what information they’ll collect from users.
Even more, it can be difficult for legal teams to navigate on their own, necessitating the involvement of technical resources. This ultimately causes legal to not be in control of their own affairs, thereby increasing the marketplace’s risk profile.
Relying on a CMS to manage and present legal content typically relegates that legal content to places where it is difficult to find. Lack of constructive notice that the use of a website is subject to legal terms can be disastrous. Legal content that is hard to find and difficult to navigate is of little value to a business trying to protect itself.
When contracts are signed in writing, people tend to take them seriously, and they are generally aware that there are legal rights and obligations attached to that contract. This is not always the case when it comes to website legal content.
An NYU study estimated that only 1 in 1000 people actually read the legal content found on websites. Why is that a problem? Customers don’t typically view those agreements in the same light as agreements that they actually read and sign; so when disputes do arise, it's harder to point to that agreement to prevent or resolve the dispute.
Even if a CMS does a decent job of hosting legal content, it certainly is not going to create any sort of self-contained, durable record of that legal content to use when needed.
Most websites employ some sort of clickthrough process - registration forms, opt-ins, eCommerce checkout, etc. This is usually the best place to present legal content and have it accepted by a user; sometimes in a scroll box, other times as an interstitial.
A CMS will be of little help integrating legal content into a clickthrough process. Even worse, when that legal content needs to be updated, there is no simple, fast, efficient way to make the update. You’ll need to get a developer involved, and they have better things to do than update and manage legal content.
At a very minimum, you need to have plans and procedures in place to account for the inability of your CMS to adequately manage and track the legal content on your website. The better option, though, would be to implement a solution that is designed specifically to manage and track website legal content.
PactSafe’s solution allows you to publish legal content to hosted Legal Centers and clickwrap forms with automated versioning and best practice design. It also tracks customer acceptance of legal terms as soon as the transactions happen, complete with automated record keeping and push button record production.
Learn more about the benefits of a legal-specific CMS in our eBook, Guide to Legal Content Management Systems in Online Marketplaces.