27 Nov 2018 The time is ripe for contract intelligence

There are tasks that absolutely no one likes to do: filling up an income statement, for example, or cleaning up a hard drive to free up some space. Reading through hundreds of contracts to spot potential errors is also one of the most boring activities one can imagine—even in the eyes of a highly motivated first-year associate lawyer. Nevertheless, she’s expected to spend long hours reading through piles of contracts to perform due diligence. No wonder 81% of people employed in legal jobs find their work boring. This statistic is all the sadder, as the boredom translates into hefty bills for the client at the end of the month. The endless hours have to be invoiced. Law firms are not charity organizations after all.

Thank God, there’s artificial intelligence with its promise of process automation.

Machine-learning algorithms read contracts incomparably faster than humans while producing considerably fewer errors. Machines never get bored. You can feed them millions of contracts, and they’ll go through the millionth with the same professional accuracy they employed for the first one. This makes them much more reliable than our first-year associate lawyer, who, at 10 pm, inadvertently overlooks some clauses in a contract to enjoy a glass of wine in front of a Netflix show. She’s human after all. When she finally falls in her bed after one of many frustrating days, she can’t help but wonder whether she has chosen the right profession. She wanted to put her creativity to work, help companies close great deals, and hit the floor of international big business. Instead, she must review tons of legal documents with a fine-tooth comb. Like a robot.

I have some good news for all junior lawyers who are drowning in an ocean of contracts they need to annotate. Those gloomy days are almost over. The law firm where they work will, sooner or later, implement an intelligent contract solution to automate the unrewarding, error-prone process of reviewing legal documents. There’s no way around it. If they don’t adopt contract intelligence, clients will leave one after the other. And associates will find a new job at another, more visionary law firm, which had the sense to invest in artificial intelligence when it was still time.

The time is ripe for contract intelligence. Very soon, customers won’t want to pay for manual contract review any more. They’ll turn to those law firms that deliver better value for money: those that charge proportionally more for high-value counseling and risk assessment than for basic contract review. An intelligent contract management system will be the rule.

By the way, what I’m talking about is true for any company that has a legal department. There are huge cost savings looming ahead in using the neurons of your legal workforce for more demanding tasks than screening legal clauses in contracts. Some companies already save 80% in manual review time by entrusting parts of their review process to an automation tool like Cortical.io Contract Intelligence. That is not to mention the new heights that your employee motivation will reach when they can reallocate their time to more rewarding, value-adding tasks.

Don’t worry; you can’t miss the train of contract intelligence. Sooner or later, you’ll have no choice but to get on board. But you should keep in mind that the longer you wait, the less competitive edge you’ll gain from this whole journey.

Author: Marie-Pierre Garnier,
VP Marketing & Communications
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