Dave, you joined Clause as Director of Engineering, what attracted you to Clause?
As much as any industry out there, the legal space seems perfectly primed for technological disruption. While many industries have embraced technology driven change, the legal industry has largely remained stagnant, continuing with “business as usual”. Clause has a great mission that has the potential to modernize antiquated processes by dragging contracting into the 21st century.
You’ve built diverse platforms during your career, from specialized NLP to scalable cloud services. What are some of the technologies that you think will be particularly applicable to your mission at Clause?
As an engineer one of the things that really drew me to Clause, in the short term, was the scope of the technical problems at hand. Building something like Clause would have been impossible for a company this small a decade ago. Any smart contracting platform will have the highest requirements for reliability, scalability, and performance. Taking advantage of the latest cloud computing technologies will play a critical role in building a cost effective solution.
Looking further ahead, we’ve already seen a number of companies pop up over the last couple of years focusing on applying NLP and machine learning techniques to contract language analysis. While not a critical feature of Clause in the short term, it’s easy to imagine many ways in which NLP techniques could be used to make creating contracts exponentially easier by streamlining the drafting process through the use of automated intelligent assistants and analysis tools. The tight coupling between the domain-specific-language and the contract language also opens up a whole new world of contract validation/verification and comprehension.
Are there specific challenges that keep you awake at night? Are they more on the technology side of the house (Meltdown/Spectre), scalability, or more about people and processes and running an efficient organization?
Anytime you are moving this fast there is always a concern about building up too much technical debt by cutting corners. More than anything else I worry about the balance of enforcing best practices vs. getting things shipped.
On the technology side, recent vulnerabilities like Meltdown/Spectre are truly terrifying. I grew up largely with the mindset that while you can’t always trust software, hardware is orders of magnitude more reliable. This perspective was seemingly upended overnight. That said, it’s been pretty awesome seeing the international community rally and collaborate at massive scale to this existential threat.
Can you share any of the tips and tricks to shipping great software that you’ve picked up along the way?
The last 10% takes 90% of the time.
What do you like to do when you aren’t programming?
Climb rocks. Preferably outside somewhere beautiful, but you can’t always be picky :)