Business Client: “Can you review this contract for me?”
Me: “Sure, when do you need it by?”
Every Business Client Ever: “Like, yesterday.”
If you’re in-house counsel, then chances are, you’ve heard this before. You probably replied with a silent eye roll or “Lol, I’ll see what I can do.” Clients often expect in-house counsel to possess superpowers. Back in the day, our resistance to such an expectation may have been justified. But in today’s world of instant feedback and communication, where these same clients can process invoices same-day and conduct real-time meetings with partners across the globe, why shouldn’t they expect the same level of efficiency from their legal department?
There is an emergence of a new kind of hero in the contracts space – the Super Lawyer – who can save their clients from expired contracts, stacks of paper, pricey auto-renewals, delayed reviews, and contract leakage. When in-house counsel day dream about which super powers we wish we had in order to better serve our clients, we think of mind reading, time travel, telepathy, or even cloning. Studies show that automating your contract review process can save your company between 6.2-12.4% of their annual revenue due to contract value leakage. That’s a pretty powerful statistic! So why not wish for better technology first?
In the example above, the client expected me to review a contract in negative 24-hours. In order to meet that expectation, I would have needed to teleport back in time a couple days. This may be challenging for in-house counsel who still use a paper filing system or log contracts on a spreadsheet. But no longer for the innovative in-house counsel. There are numerous contract management tools that can capture the termination date of a contract, predict when it needs to be renewed, and send an automatic advanced notification to both lawyer and client. Effectively reading the client’s mind and giving you a heads up as to when the new contract might be due.
Beyond that, there are tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that can help us write emails faster (othersideAI), automatically flag risk factors in contracts (Agiloft), and search executed contracts for particular terms in real-time (Lexion). Some contract management tools come with AI capabilities, others are stand-alone additions that you’ll need to source from another vendor. These are just a few examples of the myriad of tools out there today that can help us deliver legal services to our clients in what used to be unimaginable ways.
With the combination of legal skills and the right technology, any in-house attorney can manage contracts like a Super Lawyer by automating processes to solve their most common problems. The first step is to map out your contract review process in order to identify process gaps and pain points. Then, select and implement a system that solves most (if not all) of your problems. The Contract Nerds blog will be posting reviews and demos of various contract management systems to help you find one that’s right for you and your legal department. In-house counsel no longer have an excuse to be mediocre; we must (and can) become the Super Lawyers our clients are looking for.
Nada Alnajafi is the Founder of Contract Nerds, Author of Contract Redlining Etiquette, and a seasoned in-house attorney. She is a contracts expert with 15+ years working in-house counsel for companies of all sizes and across various industries.