With the tragic Covid-19 pandemic since last year, the emergence of remote-based work is now fully upon us. Like any working environment, this “new normal” has its plusses and minuses. Viewing the glass half-full, remote work has allowed employees the chance to spend less time commuting and more time on productivity. On the other hand, it can be difficult to achieve the same level of personal camaraderie amongst a project team, for instance, when all of its members are physically separated. That lack of personal face-to-face time has now been supplemented through modern technology. Virtual calling and video conferencing are now commonplace in an ever-changing global economy. This is no different within the legal sector.
As such, effective legal teams are less reliant on the conference room, printers, copiers, paper, and other brick-and-mortar tangibles for achieving deliverables. In the M&A world for example, what was once a physically secure data room has now segued into a secure online environment. This is much to the chagrin of diligence practitioners who once found themselves working through the night within an office space, surviving on caffeine and takeout food. M&A attorneys now find themselves reviewing documents through digital methods as opposed to paper copy in hand.
This digital transformation from paper to screens is also finding itself within other use cases including regulatory compliance, lease review, and managing a historical document repository. Moreover, the marketplace has now provided a bridge solution connecting the digital data room vault to the contract review process itself.
In the post-Covid-19 world, contract review teams must be nimble enough to make the home office virtual wherever they happen to operate on an individual basis. It is a transitional process that does not necessarily occur overnight. Part of that conversation is developing a workflow that can achieve the team’s objectives. Technology must invariably also be part of that conversation.
In the context of professional service firms, using a contract extraction solution that is secure, efficient, and customizable, can make the difference between winning prospective client business and losing it. Similarly, for in-house corporate legal teams, they may find themselves deluged under voluminous perennial agreements and managing a document repository. A customizable tool that uses the benefits of both machine learning and natural language processing, could help these individuals devote those precious time resources elsewhere.
When contract review is infused by AI, it can mean the difference between an automated analysis and having to perform manual searches for keywords and phrases. Productivity naturally increases as a result and remote teams can use such a tool to nail down a workflow that makes sense. For example, with a robust review technology in place, colleagues can perform their work within the software’s user interface itself. Therefore, less time is spent on emails back and forth with document attachments and comments. An ideal solution would also give its users the chance to flag the document for thorny legal concerns, make personal notes and commentary and assign the document to a specialist when necessary.
Whether in a remote environment or otherwise, no technology should be implemented with the goal of attempting to replace the nuanced legal insights and expertise that only a legal professional can provide. Contract extraction processes, powered by AI, must instead serve as a helpful and efficient supplement within a legal team’s toolkit. Augmenting the human element, to find legal concepts regardless of where they are buried in a legal document, saves the reviewer time and effort that can be refocused on other endeavors.
To chat more about how AI machine learning can expedite your contract review time anywhere from 30 to 90 percent, feel free to reach me at LCameron@dfinsolutions.com.