Clause-based vs
template-based drafting

ClauseBase uniquely allows you to choose between clause-based and template-based drafting.
Both approaches ultimately lead to the same result: an automated version of a legal document. 
However, they could not be more different, and each have their own use cases.

Template-based drafting

The template-based approach is the traditional approach towards document automation. It is used by ClauseBuddy' Smart Templates and almost every other legal automation tool on the market, because it is an easy-to-learn approach that quickly yields good results.

Essentially, it is a top-down approach where you start from an existing template and apply some changes in order to arrive at the final document.

Clause-based drafting

Clause-based drafting is a novel, bottom-up approach towards document automation. It requires you to split  templates into individual clauses and then stack those clauses together into a full document. It involves more preparation, but is much more flexible.

While several drafting products allow to store clauses alongside templates, very few offer a truly clause-based approach. Clause9 was built from the ground up to offer a unique, 100% clause-based approach.

Template-based drafting is like buying a predefined Lego set, such as a medieval castle or a cool race car. They are quick to build and require limited planning, but are also limited in variation — you can perhaps swap the color of a few bricks, but forget about significantly tuning your race car.

Lego race car

Clause-based drafting is like building a legal construction using a nice collection of basic blocks. You can build anything you want, with any variation you can imagine, but you need to carefully think about your creation and plan ahead. Obviously, you don't become a true Lego master in a day.

Lego Classic package

Advantages of each approach


Quick to learn

Simple to get started: reuse an existing Word file

Usually edited right within the comfort of Microsoft Word

Use all of Word's tools to create complex layouts


Enormous drafting power and text control

Allows to create truly bespoke legal documents

Fosters true knowledge deployment (enriched clauses)

Centralised content updates

Dynamic legal terminology & definition lists

Dynamic style switching

Multi-lingual content

Clean formatting: Word files built from the ground up

Disadvantages of each approach


Limited drafting power

Generated documents tend to feel "one-size-fits-all"

Intensifies the use of templates with poor styling

Users must keep fighting with Word's layout & numbering

Intensifies most legal experts' bad copy/pasting habits

Hampers legal knowledge management


Learning curve

More planning and setup time required

Not suitable for complex or graphic-heavy layouts

Use cases for both approaches

Due to its easy approach, template-based drafting is usually advised to legal teams that just start with document automation. Conversely, clause-based drafting is usually preferred by legal teams that have significant experience with legal technology.

However, thanks to ClauseBase's versatile approach, you can actually choose between template-based and clause-based approaches on a per document basis. 


Documents with mostly static text

"Form filling" situations

Graphically rich documents, e.g. with lots of images


Documents that must "feel" bespoke

Multi-lingual documents

Documents that require flexible terminology

Documents with highly variable definition lists

Documents with variable cross-references