Contract Automation: What you need to know

Contract Automation: What you need to know

Author
Martin Kotze
Martin Kotze
12 min read
Legal Tech
CONTRACT AUTOMATION
What you need to know

The article touches on the challenges faced by Legal Practitioners to become more efficient and provides useful insight into what can be done to increase efficiency and still maintain accuracy.

"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change."
- Charles Darwin

The ripple effects of COVID-19 will still be felt for months or even years to come with some arguing that it will bring about permanent change in some industries.

Currently, the legal industry is under severe pressure to change their ways. Clients are looking for firms to find innovative ways of working and continuously require “more for less” from legal practitioners. This situation will not subside, and the legal profession (like many other professions) will need to adapt.

Fixed fee pricing structures will not be enough. Legal Practitioners will need to start working more efficiently without compromising on quality. The way this can be achieved is with the use of technology.

So, what needs to change and where to start?
We first need to have a look at how Legal Practitioners go about their work and then identify the tasks that can be automated and improved by the use of technology.

The current situation looks something like this: 
  • The template repository is made up of dated MS word documents stored somewhere on a server (or even worse on paper, stored in a filing cabinet)
  • There are multiple versions of a template floating around in the office and no one seems to know which one is the correct or latest one
  • Legal Practitioners copy and paste paragraphs from old templates and update references and numbering as they go
  • Legal Practitioners and support staff jump around from screen to screen, re-entering data into the relevant documents
  • Documents take ages to sign and there has to be continuous pestering of the contract parties to get the transaction documents fully signed
  • Legal Practitioners don’t get around to attend to all their diarised files and miss key dates
  • And at the end of the day, no one seems to know where the signed document is
Let’s look at how the above mentioned can be improved –
  1. Make use of a document automation and creation solution to get the first draft ready in no time -
  2. Drafting time is significantly reduced by using document automation and creation solutions. Even, for example, with a complex sale of share transaction, you will be able to get the first drafts of the transaction documents out in minutes.
  3. Use the dynamic questionnaires to function as a checklist for yourself -
  4. You have years of experience and knowledge, but there is always the possibility that you will miss something. Working through a dynamic questionnaire that changes and adapts as you go along will guide you in considering and answering applicable questions that may relate to a transaction.
  5. Avoid bloated agreements with clauses that are not applicable to the transaction -
  6. By completing the dynamic questionnaire, only applicable clauses will be added to the document and bloating of the document will be avoided and this will in turn also save time.
  7. Make use of document packs -
  8. Using automated document packs holds significant time-saving benefits and increases accuracy as there is no need for manual copying and pasting of information. Data is only entered once and can be incorporated into the remaining documents in the pack.
  9. Let your support staff assist
  10. Collaboration during document creation also holds key efficiency benefits. By using various team members to create, review and sign off on the data input, fee earners can focus on what matters (like getting the deal through!).
  11. Use a trusted electronic signature solution
  12. Getting relevant parties to print out transaction documents, sign and scan them back can be a frustrating process. Rather make the signing process more convenient for your clients with an easy to use electronic signature solution.
    By using a good electronic singing solution, you will be able to see exactly when the client was notified to sign the transaction documents, when the client viewed the transaction documents and when the documents were signed. The system will automatically generate follow-up emails and keep all parties up to date. Once the signing process is completed the parties will receive the fully signed transaction document pack.
  13. Make use of a central contract repository with AI smart search capabilities combined with a contract life cycle platform
  14. No more spending hours searching for the contracts that you know was on your table just last week.

    A central contract repository combined with a contract life cycle management solution will greatly reduce the risk of missing key dates. All parties contact information is captured and stored centrally and key dates and reminders can easily be set to avoid embarrassing and awkward conversations that you may need to have with your client because you forgot to notify the other contract party that your client does not wish to proceed with the purchase because he was not happy with the DD investigation.
    With the use of AI Smart Search technology, the search engine will even look for the search results in the scanned document by using optical character recognition. So no more manually paging through contracts looking for a clause that you know you inserted.
CONCLUSION
If you are looking for an easy to use cloud-based solution that can assist you to save time and work more efficiently, have a look at contracts.tech

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