Dan Selman, CTO Clause.

I have long believed in the power of Open Source to transform industries. Fifteen years ago I had frequent (sometimes heated!) debates with executives about the risks and opportunities of an Open Source Software strategy. Thankfully, those debates are now mostly settled, with Open Source Software ubiquitous in all of our lives. The Internet services that we use everyday are completely reliant on Open Source Software and every startup uses Open Source Software to reduce time to market.


At Clause, our engineers spend between 0% and 60% of their time contributing to Open Source software, with the time allocation largely dictated by role and functional area that they are working on. Approximately 75% of our bandwidth goes into working on the closed-source Clause product, creating an awesome experience for contract digitization and automation in the cloud.

Clause Platform, showing Open Source Software components

Some Open Source software is strategic to the Clause platform we are building: the Cicero Smart Legal Contract templating system, and the Ergo domain specific language for legal logic. Other Open Source software is deeply embedded within the Open Source stack: the Hyperledger Composer modelling language (CML), and the Nearley natural language parser.

Naturally, the Clause platform also makes heavy use of Open Source, primarily from the JavaScript ecosystem, and we are deeply indebted to all the companies and individuals that have created such great tools and libraries.

As a company, we make significant investments in Cicero and Ergo to benefit the Clause platform, but more importantly to be able to engage with the wider legaltech community, to gather requirements, get feedback, bug reports, code contributions, and to ultimately create de facto or de jure standards for Smart Legal Contracts. Open Source is particularly important for legaltech given the need for standards in law and network effects of legal practice. The existence of high-quality standards and implementations will grow the entire industry and spawn collaborations and integrations with partners, and of course if successful, competitors, creating more choice for all.

We make lesser (but important) contributions to the Hyperledger Composer modelling language (CML) and Clause is employing the creator of the Nearley parser this summer to work on Ergo.

Our main Open Source contributors are listed below however we are always looking for opportunities for our engineers to improve their skills and industry reputation by contributing to Open Source projects which are strategic to our legaltech mission — or our underlying technical platform.

  • Dan Selman: Maintainer for Hyperledger Composer and Accord Project Cicero
  • Matt Roberts: Maintainer for Accord Project Cicero, Contributor to Hyperledger Composer
  • Jerome Simeon: Maintainer for Accord Project Ergo
  • Kartik Chandra: Contributor to Accord Project Ergo

We favour the permissive Apache-2.0 license, as it gives us (and partners/competitors) freedom to embed Open Source code in commercial products. It is a well understood, adopted, and respected license that has been “blessed” by most major enterprise software vendors and Open Source Software foundations.

We take our responsibilities as maintainers of Open Source code bases seriously, acting as guardians of quality and intellectual property. We’ve put in place many of the best practice tools and techniques used by successful Open Source communities: CI/CD, DCO, test coverage, contributor guidelines, etc.

Open Source is ultimately about collaboration. We’d love you or your company to get involved. It could be as small as reporting a typo on the documentation site, or as large as supporting a new execution platform for Ergo!

Of course, we’re always thrilled to collaborate with potential Clause commercial partners as well.