There are lots of contract preparation automation tools out there these days as clients and (maybe) a few outside lawyers seek to make this whole contract drafting process more efficient. In the past, I have written about Blackbolier’s automation tools. Others in the market include Juro and Spotdraft.
I recently came across a new entry into this competitive space made by a company called Avvoka. Avvoka is a startup that automates contract drafting, analysis, collaboration, and management tasks. The difference with the Avvoka product is that it’s designed to enable anyone in a business to at least begin the contract preparation process. The product focuses on the users in a business, not the lawyers.
The basic concept behind Avvoka’s platform is to have the software determine and identify what clauses are bespoke and need lawyer attention and which ones don’t
The basic concept behind Avvoka’s platform is to have the software determine and identify what clauses are bespoke and need lawyer attention and which ones don’t, according to Avvoka’s Head of Growth, Giles Thompson. There is a good interview of Thompson done by Charlie Uniman, which is worth a listen.
Avvoka does this by having the creator of the document answer various questions. The answers to those questions are then used to select standard clauses that lawyers have generated and which are typically accepted. If the answers stump the system, it identifies the questionable clauses for additional lawyer work.
The beauty of this, says Thompson is that it lets anyone create a contract with minimally lawyer involvement. This advantage frees up in-house council from having got spend time on contractual terms that are unnecessary. It also brings the contract drafting and negotiation closer to those in the business actually involved in the transaction and with the other side. To those who understand the business objectives and relationship.
Thompson says the idea is to create a platform-oriented like a consumer product. Questions in plain language that anyone can understand. Clauses that are clear, simple, and time tested.
And once the system creates the draft, changes can be made easily as the negotiating takes place. Always, though, if the system hits an impasse or there is a deviation, then a human lawyer can get involved.
The Avvoka platform is also a collaboration tool, according to Thompson. It allows business people on both sides of the contract to talk to one another so business objectives can take a front seat with legal only coming in if and where needed. Thus better preserving business relationships.
The software can also supply needed analytics
Thompson also told me that the software can also supply needed analytics. For example, it can find and use the most accepted terms across a range of contracts and then apply these clauses in response to the answers to the standard questions. Often, says Thompson, parties will object to contract terms not because they conceptually oppose them but because the contract language is not clear. The analytics can aid in rooting out the unclear clauses making the negotiation process much more straightforward.
Another advantage to Avvoka’s analytics: it can identify the clauses that parties typically have conceptual problems with. This ability enables the party using the program to have a library of clauses around a particular topic: one that is neutral and one that is more aggressive, say.
Finally, at the end of the negation process, the system creates a contract summary of the variable points in a contract. Thompson rightly observes that once a deal is done, people often turn off and quickly forget what was really at issue and how the negotiation went. The summary provides a quick update to anyone looking at the contract in the future and getting a better idea of the pain points and overall business relationship.
Thompson told me users could be trained to use the system in about an hour
I haven’t used the system since I’m rooted in litigation, not transactions. But the questions look straightforward, and the whole platform seems intuitive. Thompson told me users could be trained to use the system in about an hour. It’s sold on a per use per month basis right now. Interestingly, Thompson told me that many people starting businesses are signing up as well as some in marketing, insurance, and online banking.
Avvoka’s automation tool is based on the idea that business people can create many contractual clauses without lawyer input. The trick is separating the wheat from the chaff: finding the clauses that really need a lawyer’s input. Avvoka seems to have found a way to do just that.