I have found Ron Friedmann to be a terrific resource on law practice technology and legal profession changes. His Twitter stream is among the best sources for information on these subjects. So it was really nice to see him covering contract review software. His post helps lay out the value of contract review software, and briefly describes our system and that of another contract review software vendor with a fairly different offering, Seal Software.
As related in the Contract Review Software Buyer’s Guide, more and more companies are offering contract review software systems. The key differences between competing systems, to me, are:
- Contract Provision Extraction Accuracy. A number of contract review software systems will automatically extract contract provisions/details/metadata from agreements. The big question is how accurately they do this. It is quite easy for software to accurately extract data from agreements that it has been pre-trained for, but a lot harder for it to perform well on unfamiliar agreements and poor quality scans. If you (i) are considering contract provision extraction software and (ii) plan to review agreements that are not drafted off a template you have in advance or are in the form of poor quality scans, you should pay attention to how systems you are looking at perform relative to each other. There are likely real differences. A main underlying issue here is that some vendors build their contract provision extraction models using human-written rules, while others (like us) use machine learning technology. Also, different vendors use different types of people to train their systems. While you may or may not care about the “how” systems like ours work (though “how” really does matter here and is understandable), you likely care about accuracy. Know that it can be very different across systems.
- Features and Interface. Different systems, different features and UI. Certain contract review software systems, for example, do not offer automatic provision extraction. Others include different takes on document comparison and views of source documents. Some of these extra features may matter to you and some will not. And you may take better to one interface than another.
There are going to be lots of other differences between systems (e.g., pricing, service, ease of setup), and these deserve attention too. Nonetheless, you should definitely spend time comparing accuracy and features/UI. These should have the greatest impact in determining which system will help most in your contract review work.
If you’re interested in more information on details worth caring about in this relatively new and growing area, the Contract Review Software Buyer’s Guide is worth checking out.