Democratising legal analysis: We speak to Seal Software and DocuSign

We spoke to Seal Software’s president Jim Wagner and DocuSign’s COO Scott Olrich about post-acquisition integration plans to build an agreement cloud which, Wagner says, will “democratise the process of legal analysis of documents.” DocuSign is one of the few stocks that have gone up post-COVID-19, thanks to the need to conduct transactions remotely.

DocuSign announced its intention to acquire Seal for $188m at the end of February, but they invested $15m in Seal in March last year, how long has acquisition been on the cards?

Acquisition has been on the cards for a long time. DocuSign has an amazing brand for eSignatures but in the last couple of years have moved to Gartner’s top right quadrant for CLM. Their commitment to that market and the agreement cloud is core to their ongoing strategy.

How do you fit in with that strategy?

One of the key things in building an agreement cloud is the ability to search and analyse documents and we’re very excited to be a foundational element going forward. DocuSign see an opportunity to create a category in the same way there’s a sales cloud and a marketing cloud: we have the same opportunity to create an agreement cloud. To create a new category. DocuSign has put the full weight of their enterprise behind the agreement cloud and there is massive ongoing investment and all of those resources are coming to bear.

How does the acquisition by DocuSign impact on your partnerships with other vendors such as Integreon?

There are two different sides – there are partnerships like Integreon and Accenture and UnitedLex, who we partner with very closely to deliver solutions. But we also have technology relationships and they are ones like the one we have with DocuSign. Now we only dig deeper into our partnerships and relationships. DocuSign is one of the most scalable platforms on the planet in terms of the number of customers and type of solutions they deliver, and our partnerships will help us to continue to scale and grow.

How will the acquisition be felt by customers?

Seal will continue to be offered as a standalone in terms of existing customers they will feel – we anticipate – the weight of DocuSign behind us as we continue to be more robust and scalable.

With this acquisition is it safe to assume DocuSign is firmly moving into the legal space?

The DocuSign agreement cloud has really been focused on enterprise capability but if you step back a second, the agreement cloud is focused on the direct line of business but more specifically the critical convergence of contract analytics and legal to support that line of business even more effectively. The agreement cloud will democratise the process of legal analysis of documents that brings together the enterprise.

Scott, what are your short-term ambitions for the legal sector? And long?

Overall, we are excited about the potential that this pending acquisition has to help transform the digital agreement process in the legal sector. Seal Software has a long history with, and firm commitment to, legal tech—as does DocuSign. The acquisition only strengthens this.

In the short term, as we saw from Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for CLM, by 2023, AI is expected to enable 30% faster contract negotiation and document completion processes in organizations already using the leading CLM solutions.

So, we believe that legal professionals can benefit from even broader adoption of contract lifecycle management (CLM) solutions—especially those that are tightly integrated with e-signature solutions, and can be augmented and enhanced by AI and analytics.

We also plan to make it easier for legal teams to tackle mission-critical projects—for example, data privacy compliance, Brexit preparedness, M&A and due diligence—with pre-trained contract AI.

Over the longer term, our goal will be to ensure the continued evolution of the digital agreement process—and to usher in the era where agreements can automatically monitor and fulfill terms, as well as offer other compliance capabilities.

Given your size and competition for budget how will you make the legal vertical count?

The use of AI for analytics on legal documents has been the vanguard of AI adoption within corporates and In-house law functions.

We don’t see legal as just a discrete sector or function, though — we see it as a foundational line of business that touches virtually every department, policy, and technology choice.

In addition, there are many law firms that embrace transformative legal technologies to enhance their delivery models.

Comment: With COVID-19 now impacting corporates’ contractual liability, they are being advised to review contracts for relevant clauses such as force majeure or material adverse changes. So while new corporate deals/due diligence contractual analysis is down, the need for analysis within a corporate’s existing contract stack can be expected to increase.