Everything today is digital. Since the invention of the internet, life has changed completely. You can shop online, work online, learn online, and even date online! However, legal services are still very traditional. And I am not talking just about individual lawyers. From small law firms to big corporations, many organizations are struggling to manage their contracts in a digital way.
So what does it mean for today’s contract lawyer to be “digital”?
1. Put the pen down! Let’s start with the simple things. Digital lawyers must have all their contracts in one database and they must be easily available and searchable. Interactive, real-time dashboards with contractual data are the key to getting the most value out of your contracts. This will become the basis for legal teams to negotiate the best contracts based on the knowledge gathered in the database. Digital lawyers can search through the contracts library on their tablet using key terms and contract metadata. They can also draft and review contracts on iPads! Paper is so 20th century.
2. Use a Tool! There are, of course, multiple tools available on the market to help lawyers manage contracts throughout the lifecycle. The key is to choose the right tool for a specific need, whether it’s small procurement contracts or big multi-year IT agreements. Most in-house lawyers have little time for obligation management, and to be honest, it would be a waste of their skills. Today, tools can do it for you and the lawyers will get involved should any disputes or potential litigations arise. But having the evidence easily available with an audit trail will make a lawyer’s life easier. Many companies struggle with the management of contractual obligations, including how to avoid the unnecessary cost and how to keep evidence in order to have it easily available should a client dispute the end result. The same applies to clients who want to make sure they get the most out of their contracts.
3. Stop Using Email! All contracts have to be drafted, negotiated, and signed off. Lawyers still like to use Word to draft and redline contracts. The exchange of documents is very traditional; as a result, documents are sent back and forth, resulting in lost time, energy, and content changes.
Believe me, there are great tools out there for interactive, real-time contract drafting and negotiations. It makes the drafting and reviewing process easy when each party sees the changes real time and has the opportunity to chat and exchange comments. The tool tracks all the changes, proposes alternative terms or clauses from the clause library, highlights open negotiation points, and compares positions. A truly digital, almost paperless and touchless tool allows lawyers to use their brains and knowledge in a more productive way.
Embracing digital takes time, but this is the future! Digital lawyers are already embracing the opportunity to drive the digitalization of contracting. Are you ready?