As a law firm owner, your first and foremost need is to boost the efficiency of your business. I’ve heard this time and time again during dozens of conversations with law firm leaders from across the U.S. What I have also picked up is that advanced law businesses are leveraging legaltech to optimize every little part of every business process.
Some start with seemingly inconsequential tasks — and yield jaw-dropping results. From my experience, a small law firm can slash costs by $150,000 per year by simply bringing bits of automation to the process of contract review.
The beauty of contract review solutions is that they can be small-scale and affordable but can help you solve large-scale and costly problems. In this article, I will explain why the manual part of the contract review is worth automating and how to choose the best provider.
Law is a document-intensive field. So, it seems natural that as many as 58% of law firms already employ legal document review software in a bid to optimize what constitutes a lion’s share of the lawyer’s work. They are looking to hit two goals: speed up the mechanical part of contract review that does not require legal expertise to perform and make lawyers more confident about contracts they draft. For law firm owners, this translates into reduced costs, improved efficiency, better services, and more clients.
At the same time, the market is pushing for law firms to use legaltech. More and more customers are in no uncertain terms asking if law firms use legaltech. This does not surprise me as clients accustomed to using tech in other areas of their lives are expecting law firms to be tech-savvy, too. Quite naturally, they feel entitled to faster and higher-quality services from smaller tech-enhanced law firms — the level of services they used to be able to get only at larger international firms.
If you are ready to be among these advanced law firms and embrace legaltech, I am advocating for starting digital transformation with contract review optimization. It’s fast, affordable, and its results are easily measurable. What’s more, the learning curve of contract review software is usually almost flat. You and your team can start using it immediately after the installation — and start tracking its performance from the word go. And the biggest benefit is that a small change in contract review routine can impact the efficiency of the whole law firm.
Microsoft Word add-ins are arguably the most common format of contract review software. Here’s what Joshua D. Brinen, a small law firm owner from New York, said about using one of such add-ins: "With Loio it is really simple to learn how to work, the system is easy to roll out and set up." He added: "Loio is a tool to use together with other tools to make document drafting more precise and efficient. It's never going to replace a human being. Technology makes things quicker and more affordable. Loio also increases my bandwidth to take more clients and make more money. I don't look at technology as a replacement, I look at it as a lever."
Now that we know that contract review optimization can, in fact, be impressive in terms of efficiency boost and cost-cutting, let's see how it works in more detail.
There are many contract review tools of different scales and functionality. I will focus on one of the possible options: a machine learning (ML)-based solution. I’ve chosen it for one simple reason: it’s the best there is in the market as of today. Yet, it’s affordable to almost anyone.
First, let me use this quote by data scientist Serge Sotnyk to explain to you the difference between traditional and ML-based software: “With traditional software, we create rules for a machine (computer) to use to process data. Thus, the more data we use, the more rules we need. With time, such a tech solution gets much more difficult to maintain and becomes prone to making more mistakes.”
He added: “With machine learning, it’s quite the opposite. We interact with a computer as if it were a child. We teach it by providing examples. Then the machine creates rules to process the data we feed it. With ML, the more data it learns from, the better it becomes at analyzing it. In other words, the growing amount of data is an advantage rather than a drawback for such a solution.” This is just perfect for processing the data from endless piles of documents, isn’t it?
Now as you probably agree that considering using ML is a feasible option, let’s look into how exactly it can help you and your team better work with contracts.
ML-powered solutions scan legal documents of any length in a matter of seconds and immediately flag all the inaccuracies like wrong dates, missed or messed up cross-references, missing signatures, etc. They can also show the “health” score of your document. Last but not least, they can help handle what arguably are the most irritating issues — broken formatting and lists, mismatched headings, and wrong numbering — with one click. They are also smart enough not only to flag all the entities that need your attention but also suggest how to fix them.
Imagine how much time you and your team can save by using such tools? Yet, you have to choose your software wisely. Let me give you a few tips on how to do it properly.
I will split the process into several steps.
All in all, contract review optimization would be a worthwhile investment into your law firm’s efficiency. With it in place, you would not only be spending less time and money on contract review but also be able to take on more clients and generate even more revenue.
Elena Chorna is Chief Business Development Officer at Loio, AI-powered software for efficient contract review and drafting in Microsoft Word. Elena is an experienced public speaker. In 2021, she moderated Loio’s free webinar “How to do better contracts to help your clients and further your career” that has enjoyed over 1,000 views on YouTube and has been featured on TEDEd.
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