As we first revealed in the September Orange Rag, after six months of intensive R&D, ContractPod has launched an artificially intelligent contract analyst which will work “out of the box” and is fully integrated with its end-to-end contract management platform.
E:V – pronounced Eve – can read, interpret, analyse and report on key contractual information, manage full contract workflow and approvals and automatically set alerts and reminders for important dates. According to ContractPod’s website, E:V is powered by IBM Watson, which is Watson’s first foray into the contract management space.
ContractPod was launched in 2014 by NewGalexy co-founder Sarvarth Misra offering out of the box contract management and analytics but Misra tells us: “The missing link was always AI. We’ve been looking at AI in terms of what works and doesn’t work and where the accuracy levels are high. Contracts are complex and include so much unstructured data that they can be interpreted differently so the question was ‘how do we meet that challenge?’”
Using natural language processing, ContractPod AI helps lawyers analyse effective and expiry dates. Misra, a qualified lawyer, said: “Yes we’ve built this using technology but there has been a big legal input into how E:V interprets contracts. It’s taken us in terms of R&D six months to perfect the platform.”
He adds: “The other challenge is how do you seamlessly connect that into the contract management system. What’s out in the market can read, interpret and analyse but where we are different is the analysis will sit behind the contract management machines to help you manage the full contract lifecycle.”
A big USP is that while legal obligation tracking can be very time consuming. Misra says: “In ContractPod AI, you drag and drop the document and get the analysis back in two minutes.”
He adds: “It can analyse the contract, set important dates, tell you when the contract is expiring. It can also set alert reminders in the calendar and set the full workflow. In the market you can get the data out but it’s then what do you do with it. With this solution once you have the data it sits in ContractPod and reminds you automatically, taking the manual element out of contract analysis work.”
While firms can train ContractPod Misra says: “There is a set of key obligations in every contract such as indemnities, insurance and governing law and all of that information is done out of the box. It will also tell you the names of the parties. And it will analyse the start and end date so you can work out the expiry date.
“From an implementation perspective, this is not about ‘give me 500 contracts before we start’. You can pretty much plug it in and later if you want to train it of course you can do it. But what you get comes out of the box from day one.”
Having used independent lawyers to read and compare contracts against the machine, ContractPod’s accuracy rate is said to be 90%.
While Misra hopes that clients live in ContractPod and it becomes a “full ecosystem” it also has full APIs so it can be plugged into the likes of SharePoint or “any part of your world.”
Because ContractPod applies natural language processing and machine learning, the system can be expected to “get better and better” and Misra tells us: “For six months we’ve been putting in so much data and the results are incredible. When the machine learning kicks in it starts giving you much more accurate results.”
He adds: “You see a lot out there that says ‘we’ll do your NDA, or your conveyancing contract.’ What we’re saying is that your contract type is irrelevant. If you put your contract in to ContractPod, you will get results.”
ContractPod’s clients are typically in-house teams and it has 50 “typically quite large corporates” in the UK and Europe and 10 in the United States.
Sarvarth said: “We see this as the next big leap in legal technology. We’ve used the best minds in the business – data scientists, AI specialists, technologists and commercial lawyers – to build the new application.”
Leading legal technologist and founder of legal engineering business SYKE Alistair Maiden (formerly head of contracts data protection and privacy lead at Asda), endorses the move, commenting: “Using AI to reduce the need for manual contract analysis is the natural evolution of automated contract lifecycle management and has the potential to significantly disrupt the established legal ecosystem.”
ContractPod E:V will be sold on a fixed annual fee. Much will come down to the UX and a GC contact observed: “So much will depend on usability – it can be as shiny as you like but if it’s not user friendly that’s all just PR.”