In recent years, automated solutions have become a key driver of efficiency and productivity in today’s law firms and legal teams. One area that’s seen significant development is contract management. An increasing number of firms are tapping into automation technology to streamline the legal contract lifecycle and foster better collaboration with their clients.
The rise of automated contract lifecycle management isn’t surprising, given that lawyers spend majority of their time drafting and reviewing documents. In fact, one survey suggests that 50% of lawyers can take a week or longer to draft a non-disclosure agreement. Here, we look at why more firms and legal teams are turning to automated contract lifecycle management and how to put it to work for your firm.
What is Contract Lifecycle Management?
Contract lifecycle management is a process for managing the entire lifecycle of a legal transaction - from initiation through to negotiation and archiving and review. By automating the contract lifecycle, firms can more easily and quickly create legally enforceable documents, reduce risk and improve client satisfaction.
The 3 Main Stages of Legal Contract Lifecycle Management
Stage 1: Create
The legal contract lifecycle starts with the creation of the contract from a template. Sysero provides a markup tool that allows lawyers to turn existing contracts into contract templates without leaving Microsoft Word. The markup process converts text to fields, provides choices that add or remove clauses as required, and has advanced features for contracts that need to include lists of people, companies and signatories. The templates are stored in a Knowledge Library and can be found using simple text searching or using a more formal classification system.
Most law firms store their documents in a Document Management System under a client folder or workspace, using products such as NetDocuments or iManage. To start creating a new contract, lawyers can start the process in the client workspace and select the appropriate contract template. This could be as simple as an NDA, an Employment Contract that covers roles from CEO to temporary workers, or as complex as a Share Purchase Agreement.
Once the template is selected, the contract can be completed by filling out a questionnaire that can be run from within Word using an automation add-on, or using a tablet or phone without any specialist software or apps required. The questionnaire creates a document customised for the matter which can be saved automatically into the clients workspace in the DMS
Stage 2: Negotiate
Once the contract is created, it’s time for the negotiation phase. The document created from the template is stored in the DMS and may go through numerous edits before being ready for execution. Alternatively with simple contracts, the entire process may be completed on a tablet without the need to edit the standard terms. Whether from Word or online, lawyers can route the document by entering email addresses for each signatory who will receive the document as a PDF. Lawyers can opt to send the contract to all signatories at once, or in order of precedence and each signatory will see a yellow block in the area required.
To sign, recipients simply click on on the colour-coded links within the contract and type and sign their name. There’s no need for them to download software or create an account. Recipients also can opt to sign via mobile device for greater ease of use. Once all parties have signed the contract, a signed PDF is created, e-notorised and the final version emailed to all parties.
Stage 3: Archive & Review
Executed contracts can then automatically be filed as PDF’s and stored within a Contracts folder in the DMS. Assuming the law firm is using a modern DMS, such as iManage Work 10, lawyers can easily access their contracts, from anywhere on any device.
However, contract management doesn’t end there. It’s important to perform regular reviews of your contract templates to ensure they stay relevant and up-to-date. With Sysero, you can employ a quality review workflow to automatically flag templates for review at specified intervals.
Legal contract management can be a time-consuming task, however, automating the process can deliver many benefits in terms of building business relationships and generating revenue. With Sysero, firms can streamline the contract management lifecycle with online redlining and faster and more secure e-signatures, while also avoiding risk and compliance issues with approval and review workflows. Forward-thinking firms are adopting automated contract management to improve their business processes - are you?
In recent years, automated solutions have become a key driver of efficiency and productivity in today’s law firms and legal teams. One area that’s seen significant development is contract management.