Sometimes, a company is so accustomed to a process that its participants don’t realize how manual it actually is. This is commonly the case for contract management review.
Many corporations rely on vastly manual processes to handle contracts, such as cutting and pasting into templates, emailing, searching for documents and saving to multiple drives. However, a manual approach for contract management can come with significant risks such as inadequate delivery to customers, failure to enforce negotiated supplier terms, time lost from disorganization and errors and additional work due to inefficient processes.
One area of particular concern is contract review. When combined with highly manual or ineffective processes, it has the potential to hinder the execution of powerful agreements that lead to increased revenue, enhanced partnerships and valuable purchases. In short, a nickel – albeit a necessary nickel for legal review – is holding up a dollar.
Contract Review and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Legal teams have long been asked to do more with fewer resources and a shrinking budget – all while taking on more work. This is not a scalable process without technology. Artificial intelligence and advancements in machine learning, natural language processing and deep learning are evolving the legal profession as we know it.
While legal professionals’ expertise and judgment will always be the core of legal processes, AI can provide pre-work much in the same way that a paralegal or junior lawyer might mark up a document or run a checklist before a partner’s final review. As a result, corporate legal departments can use AI to decrease the time it takes to review contracts, increase productivity, reduce risk and save time.
Here are five ways AI can accelerate the pre-signature contract review process.
- Self-Service Contract Review
With AI, legal professionals can slash the time for a first-pass review from days or hours to mere minutes. A business user can request a standard contract or submit a third-party contract for initial review via email or a web portal. AI learns corporate standards from transaction histories and feedback and then reviews and redlines contracts and returns them in Microsoft Word – often within two minutes.
- High-Volume/Low-Edit Contract Review
Some contracts, like nondisclosure agreements, require near real-time turnaround and often do not depart from standard terms. They’re high-volume and low-edit documents – prime candidates for AI review. Instead of an attorney handling contracts like this, AI can review the contract and suggest revisions to bring it to corporate standards if necessary. From there, the NDA or similar contract can be tendered directly to the other party or undergo one last round of internal review if deemed necessary. Lawyers can spend time on projects that bring more value to the company.
- Complex Contract Drafting and Negotiation
Master service agreements, statements of works and other complex sales or purchase agreements can also benefit from AI. It leverages the full company playbook and clause library to guide the contract drafter and reviewer along the negotiation at agreement pass.
- Third-Party Contract Risk Review
AI assesses the risk of contracts during the pre-signature review phase by reviewing third-party paper against corporate standards and checklists. It then summarizes the risks, flags key issues using contract review templates and unique company clauses and suggests proper edits.
- Playbook Management
Combined with a user-friendly AI platform, AI-driven contract review allows legal teams to manage, collaborate and use AI to apply corporate playbooks and precedents automatically. Legal professionals can then use the real-time data and insight provided by the platform to improve playbook standards and understand enforcement across the business.
Businesses want as many agreements on their contract terms and paper as possible. When a contract is on “other party paper,” it is difficult to adhere to a company’s playbook and enforce guidelines. Ultimately, it slows down contract execution. However, by relying on AI, corporate legal departments are aptly equipped to pave a rapid path to contract closure and signature and accelerate business while increasing contract compliance.
To learn more about AI and tools for contract management, read a recent study that details how AI and contract review increases corporate legal productivity by more than 50%.