Contract Review Software Buyer's Guide - Introduction

Written by: Noah Waisberg

August 30, 2013

4 minute read

The contract review software space is getting more crowded—I came across two new competitors in two days earlier this week. Two! Though I don’t anticipate finding as many next week, we get why more companies are now offering contract review software (especially automated provision extraction systems): there is a lot of value to quickly finding what contracts say on important provisions, and lots of room for improvement on the status quo way contracts are reviewed by non-tech enhanced humans. While it was nice being in a sector with few competitors, we welcome the new entrants—it’s great to have more people out there telling the world that there is a better way to review contracts.

“Contract Review Software Buyer’s Guide”

Since contract review software seems to be becoming an established market category, people may increasingly wonder what this software does and how to distinguish what different companies offer. As such, I am going to do a series of posts on contract review software. This post will set the stage by giving some background on me and why I’m a decent guide through this field. The next post will explain how contracts get reviewed without software, then give a brief overview of what contract review systems do and why several companies have built them. Since nearly all companies in the field offer automated contract provision extraction systems, the series will continue with posts on the three main technologies that power their provision locating models: manual rules, comparison-based methods, and machine learning. These posts will give details on how the technology underlying contract provision extraction systems work, and note advantages and disadvantages of each approach. (And, don’t worry, they won’t be too technical.) Next, the series will cover interface features included in various contract review software systems.

Why I’m Worth Reading On Contract Review Software

Why am I well qualified to be a guide through this industry? In some ways, I’m not. If you haven’t already checked my background, I run a technology enhanced contract review software company, and so may be biased. On the plus side, I have been working on automated contract review since late-2010, meaning I’m one of the longest-active people in the industry. And, prior to co-founding DiligenceEngine, I was a corporate associate at a large and well regarded law firm, where I did and then supervised due diligence contract review on a number of matters.

Contract review software is not yet at the point of where there are independent experts to weigh in. There is no Chris Dale, Ralph Losey, Craig Ball or the like (eDiscovery commentators) to write this guide to contract review software. So it’s me or someone like me (e.g., a procurement analysis shop sponsored by a different contract review software company) for now. And I know of no current alternatives at the moment—few companies in the space even describe their technology. I look forward to the day when this guide is supplanted. And hope some find it useful in the interim.

Contract Review Buyers Guide Series:

Part 1 - Contract Review Software Buyer’s Guide
Part 2 - What is Contract Review Software & Why Does it Exist?
Part 3 - How Automated Contract Provision Extraction Systems Find Relevant Provisions, And Why “How” Matters
Part 4 - No Rules: Problems With Rules-Based Contract Provision Extraction
Part 5 - Manual Rule-Based Automated Provision Extraction Software Case Study: Mumboe
Part 6 - Comparison- and Header Detection-Based Automated Contract Provision Extraction
Part 7 - Foundations of Machine Learning-Based Contract Review Software
Part 8 - Machine Learning Based Automated Contract Provision Extraction
Part 9 - Machine Learning-Based Contract Provision Extraction on Poor Quality Scans
Part 10 - Garbage In, Garbage Out: Why Who Instructs An Automated Contract Provision Extraction System Matters
Part 11 - Further Information on Why Who Instructs An Automated Contract Provision Extraction System Matters
Part 12 - Do-It-Yourself Instructions on How to Build an Automated Contract Provision Extraction System!
Part 13 - Do-It-Yourself Instructions on How to Add Non-Standard Clause Detection to Your Contract Metadata Extraction System
Part 14 - Non-Standard Contract Clause Detection is Easy to Build, Hard to Get Right
Part 15 - What is the difference between contract analysis and eDiscovery software?

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