Archive: September, 2014
You’re ready to implement a contract lifecycle management tool. Your company cannot maintain its place in the competitive market unless it adopts a comprehensive, streamlined system for managing the lifecycle of its contracts, from creation to archiving and everything in between. You need meaningful, complete insight into contract data; you need libraries of best-practice clauses to be shared among attorneys; you need to be able to create contracts with far more speed and accuracy; you need to you need to be able to store and locate your existing contracts; and, most importantly, you need it to be intuitive enough that your team will want to use it.
Now you’re seeking help. You know you need to implement a comprehensive Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system. But how? Do you build your own system or do you buy something from a CLM vendor?
Depending on your situation, it could be a really simple decision.
RequirementsIn order to determine whether to build or buy, you’ll need to work out exactly what problems the solution will need to solve. This is no easy task, given the conflicting stakeholder expectations and internal politicking that inevitably color any enterprise-wide IT project.
You’ll need to consider the issues that are pressing right now, those that may arise down the track, as well as potential applications and necessities for other business units within your firm. Remember that specialist contract lifecycle management vendors – as well as other businesses who have turned to them – have valuable experience and expertise that will help you appreciate and evaluate the sorts of problems you may want to address and other sources of value a CLM solution may be able to leverage.
In our last post we began a discussion about the relationship between legal technology and the perceived threat it poses to lawyers’ job security. We noted that claims abound warning of technological advances that will all but supplant lawyers and – gasp! – even law firms.
So what’s wrong with this notion of “robot lawyers”?
To oversimplify, the law is a human thing. Technology is a great enabler, allowing humans to focus less on the necessary cumbrous bookkeeping, administrative and practical tasks, and more on the law.
Laws regulate people (and, lest we forget, the corporate ‘person’), and are written, interpreted and enforced by people. No matter how regimented and rote, the law and its application contain degrees of reason – human reason – that algorithm cannot account for. These limitations become even more pronounced as complexity increases. And whenever reason comes into play, technology can only support – but not supplant – flesh and bone legal professionals. The real question, then, is what aspects of the law depend on human reason? Turns out, almost all.
Let’s set aside the obviously humanity-centric areas such as Constitutional and Family Law, and go straight to the heart of the beast: contract law. Technology can – and does – play an increasingly important role in contract law by enabling streamlined contract creation, tidier negotiation, intricate contract data-based reporting, and overall visibility into the lifecycle of a contract. But, in contract law as elsewhere, technology is only as useful as its use by lawyers is consistent and deliberate. Plus – and this goes without saying – it takes skilled people to create the rules, logic, and enter the data that make the software run and keep it running.
We’ve been talking a lot about the rise of legal technology and how it will help corporate lawyers – and the businesses they work for – in exciting, invaluable ways. In this, the first in a two-part series, we’ll briefly explore the rhetoric surrounding the relationship between legal technology and the longevity of the legal profession.
While there are new and evolving technologies affecting all areas of law, we’ll mostly be talking about contracts because they represent tangible and meaningful outputs throughout the law. And because, frankly, they’re what we know best.
Advancements to the profession provided by legal technology have proved nothing less than thrilling (for us, anyway). As the practice of law has become increasingly bogged down in regulation, paperwork and mountains and mountains of documents, technology eases the pain of dealing with what could otherwise become convolution. In the contract world, for example, automation and lifecycle management saves lawyers significant time otherwise spent on low-level tasks, from digging through filing cabinets to drafting standard contracts. As technology becomes better at completing rule-based jobs such as easing document creation, collaboration, sharing, storage and analysis; compiling clauses in searchable libraries; setting notifications for renewal and expiry; flagging high-risk/non-standard clauses; cleaning up and recording changes made in negotiations; and accumulating and reporting on data, lawyers have more time and wherewithal to dedicate to engaging legal work. In the realm of civil litigation, e-discovery software effectively automates what were once hugely expensive, drawn-out manual discovery processes, leading to significantly reduced costs. In general, by reducing time spent (dare we say wasted?) on value-poor tasks, technology can and will lower the overall cost of access to legal experts.