As an in-house legal counsel, part of your day will undoubtedly look like this: you get a call from a colleague on the business side with a request to draft a new contract. He gives you some basic background information and sends you the counterparty’s details by mail. Now it’s up to you to draft a complete contract, including all details of the commercial deal. Or you may have even already received a draft contract that your business colleague has drawn up himself, so you can “just add the legal stuff in there because they want to close quickly.”
Sound familiar? That’s because the large majority of legal departments around the globe operate in this way. Legal advisors are responsible for drafting new agreements from scratch or revising drafts provided by their colleagues or counterparts. Time is wasted due to missing information, having to rewrite or add wording for legal or policy reasons, etc. It may even occur that an essential clause is removed by your colleague that you now have to insert again. Or even worse - its absence is not obvious at first sight and the contract is signed without it... a risk no company should be willing to take. Worst of all: some in-house lawyers are vilified as bottlenecks when they are simply doing their job of mitigating the risk a company incurs whenever it enters into an agreement.
Division of legal labor
Re-thinking this workflow can save you a lot of time and protect the company from the risks of incomplete contracts or miscommunications. Imagine that as a legal advisor you could set up a self-service platform your business colleagues could use to create agreements by themselves that automatically adds any legal provisions and protections which the company relies on you to include. Your colleague just fills out the commercial details and you do a quick sanity check. No muss, no fuss, no overwhelming sense of anxiety as you struggle to keep up with the Mach speed pace of deals flowing through the company.
Not only is this dream scenario possible; your peers who are using document automation technology are already living it. With a self-service platform, you put your company policy and legal knowledge into an intelligent template that business users can fill out in a non-legalese Q&A style format. Business units can fill out commercial information and legal and policy considerations are automatically added as they progress through the Q&A.
Does the licensing agreement need a signature from the CEO for deal sizes in excess of 100.000 EUR? Should the employment contract contain a non-compete clause if you are hiring someone for a management position? You already know all of these answers, yet you are consistently being asked to reiterate them every single time you draft/review a contract.
Better sleep thanks to automation
Of course, templates can relieve some of the pressure, but as static Word documents they suffer from the typical problems that static Word documents run into: they are difficult to manage, to fill out, to ensure that the most up to date version is always being used, etc.
With self-service platforms containing intelligent templates in a user-friendly Q&A format, that is a thing of the past, and the benefits don’t stop there. Once you start exploring the potential of document automation, you will find that much more is possible: electronic signatures, direct client access to documents, multi-language documents at the click of a button, etc.
In conclusion, optimising your document workflows using legal technology not only saves you time, but it can help you sleep better at night by avoiding risks as well.