Automation is slowly but surely making its way into the legal sector. Though the numbers are still small, case management applications are leveraging automation technologies to make some of the more routine aspects of practicing law more efficient. For example, consider contract management. It is now possible to automate many of the aspects of contract management for a more efficient office.
Automated contract management is still in its infancy for all intents and purposes. Yet technology solution providers have already made significant inroads. Most of what they have accomplished is a direct result of having access to three distinct technologies. The makers of the NuLaw case management app call these technologies the three pillars of automated contract management.
1. Cloud Computing
As you know, cloud computing is not a new technology. It has been around since the 1990s in some form. But not until the early 2010s did it truly become a technology for the business masses. The cloud has since become an integral part of developing new software for the legal industry.
In terms of contract management, the cloud provides an essential platform for collaboration. It provides a central location to which the data, contract documents, etc. can be uploaded and stored. It also provides the space and computing power needed to facilitate automated tasks.
The icing on the cake is the fact that the cloud can be accessed from virtually anywhere. For example, an attorney looking to execute generation of a new contract does not have to be in the office to do so. He or she can log on to his/her cloud-based case management app from anywhere, using a laptop computer or mobile device. Contracts can be created from home, at the airport, or while sitting with a client in the office.
2. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is the technology that gave us cryptocurrency. But it also gave us the opportunity to leverage something known as ‘smart contracts’. A smart contract in computer programming lingo is a piece of code that automatically executes when certain, predefined conditions are met. Software developers utilize both blockchain and smart contracts to facilitate automated contract management within the legal software environment.
Another benefit of blockchain is its immutability. A distributed blockchain ledger is immutable in the sense that entries cannot be removed or modified once they have been added. Thus, a blockchain ledger provides a running history of all the data it is designed to record.
How does this help automated contract management? By giving blockchain-equipped case management applications a complete and reliable history of all contract management over the lifetime of the ledger in question.
3. Artificial Intelligence
The third and final pillar of automated contract management is artificial intelligence. Through artificial intelligence, contract management systems can ‘learn’ from past data input for the purposes of managing future contracts more efficiently. Automation allows attorneys to define parameters for contract management and then allow the system to take care of the rest, automatically and in the background.
Artificial intelligence allows computer systems to take standard contract templates and modify them, as needed, to meet situational needs. It allows for anticipating future needs based on past histories and trends. All of this leads to a more efficient and streamlined contract management experience that keeps a law firm on track while requiring less direct input from attorneys.
Automated contract management is a time saver, a money saver, and an attractive tool to help bring new clients on board. Making automated contract management possible are the three pillars of cloud computing, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. Has your firm looked at automated contract management yet?