How Smart Is Your Contracting Process?

By Litera on May 24, 2017

A busy law practice generates hundreds or even thousands of contracts every year. Contract production can eat up hours of valuable attorney time and create unnecessary stress and anxiety due to the risk of costly errors. And these problems increase exponentially as the length and complexity of a contract increases.

When you draft a contract, do you ever worry about the following common problems?

  • Are definitions consistent throughout your contract?
  • Are any terms ambiguous or varied in their application?
  • Is your meaning—each party’s obligations, duties, and benefits under the contract—clear?
  • Are any terms or conditions subject to misinterpretation or confusion?

Repeatedly poring over contracts to ensure that they are clear, straightforward, and internally consistent is, frankly, a waste of valuable time. Now that computers are better able to learn and understand language, they are establishing their usefulness for reviewing, analyzing, and improving contracts—with minimal human input required.

But most lawyers aren’t yet leveraging technology to optimize their contracting process.

The future of smart contracts lies in fully automated document execution and self-executing or self-enforcing contractual clauses. But even today, software enables users to solve contract problems in a cost-effective, stress-reducing way.

To determine whether your contracting process is up to the task, ask yourself the following questions:

Is your contract-review process as efficient as it could be? Are you staying awake at night worrying about errors?

Saving billable attorney time is perhaps the most obvious and remarkable advantage of using smart contracting software. Contract-reviewing programs can proofread language, ensuring that there are no unprofessional typos, misspelled words, or confusing grammar. But spelling and grammar-check features are old news. Today, software can analyze language and learn common legal terms, allowing the computer to also check for ambiguity and consistency of language throughout the contract. Not only does this save time, but it vastly improves your confidence in the end result. Imagine spending an hour on a final contract review, focusing on those areas that your software highlights as being of concern, instead of wasting days reading and re-reading that same contract.

Are you positive that you’ve defined all terms clearly and consistently?

As your software learns your specific legal language and terms of art, it can also identify contractual terms that may be ambiguous. Many lawyers may have contributed sections to a complex contract, each using different terms and phrases—or changing their meanings—throughout the document. Smart contract analysis software will flag those variations and help you produce a clear, consistent contract that fully defines all terms. Such programs can also alert you to important terms that are undefined or inconsistently defined. This ensures that your contract is not subject to misinterpretation and that all parties fully understand their rights and responsibilities—again, with minimal time invested.

Is your contract coherently and accurately organized?

Especially with lengthy, complex contracts, internal document organization can overwhelm traditional word-processing and document-production software. Smart contract software will accurately produce and maintain cross-references, including full lists of definitions. It will also retain internal contract organization, guaranteeing that a reference on page 72 to subsection 5(a)(1)(B)(iii) will always point back to the correct section of the contract.

Automating your contract review process reduces errors while producing excellent results. Clear, consistent contracts protect your bottom line by avoiding unnecessary, unclear, and undesirable contractual terms. Smart contracts also protect your reputation and that of your clients.

Is your contracting process as intelligent as it could be?

Topics: Artificial Intelligence

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