Contract review is important, but tedious work. It requires the unique combination of legal expertise and the ability to interpret legal language that only lawyers possess. But reviewing many, often similar, contracts as part of a large transaction can be mind-numbing. Paragraphs written differently may mean the same thing. But similarly-written paragraphs with a single word change can flip the meaning. Keeping it all straight is a challenge.
But the review isn’t the end goal. Your clients want you to interpret and explain what these contracts mean to them. That means translating legal language into business language and assessing risk – a largely subjective task. This kind of interpretation is precisely why the world needs lawyers and requires a significant amount of human expertise. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) can help automate some of the tedious parts of the process.
Contract review using machine learning
Machine learning is a process that uses algorithms to “teach” software to learn from a data set and perform certain tasks. In contract review, this means using a set of hundreds or thousands of real contracts to teach the software to identify pieces of information.
For instance, a tool like HighQ can identify the contract type – e.g. this is a sales contract or a lease agreement. It can also extract and standardize basic facts about the contract like parties, dates, governing law, and more. Using integrations with tools like Kira, it can go even deeper with training for specific contract types like equipment leases or employment agreements.
Once the tool has extracted this data, it can use it in several helpful ways. You might want to see analytics or data visualization for a large group of contracts. Or you might simply want to see clauses side by side for comparison. With a tool like HighQ’s iSheets, that’s easy.
Data can also trigger workflows. You might want to route a particular contract to a specialist for additional review. So, when the tool identifies a contract as pertaining to property leases, for instance, it can automatically route it to your real estate team.
The benefits of contract review software
Contract review software is best suited for triage and fact extraction from legal contracts at volume. It eases the burden of keeping track of similar pieces of information across documents – something human brains aren’t very good at, but at which computers excel. We might call this the administrative work of contract review.
But as we discussed, the real value lawyers offer their clients is the human interpretation and analysis that turns legal language into valuable business insight. If machine learning can take on more of this “administrative” work, it frees lawyers up to focus on the valuable human work clients care about. This might mean faster reviews or higher possible volume, but it will certainly mean happier clients.
Getting started with contract review software
It’s remarkably easy to get started with contract review software. You can be up and running in a matter of days, not weeks or months. Imagine the time savings (and money saved on headache medicine) of a contract review tool that can help you identify and organize the basic facts of your contracts, freeing you up to do the real work of delivering human insight to your clients.
If you’re ready to streamline your contract review process, it’s time to see HighQ in action.