Combining machine learning with “smart human resources”, legal process outsourcing provider Exigent has teamed up with LexPredict to offer corporates a deep search of unstructured data rolled in to its existing contract management solution.
The new service enables corporates to search for documents and clauses within a raft of unstructured material, including emails, supported by lawyers and analysts trained in machine learning and natural language processing, meaning corporates can use the service for discrete projects rather than as a mass undertaking.
Exigent lawyers will train the system to recognise and classify custom or complex clauses, moving away from a simple yes/no binary identification.
One of the early use cases for Exigent’s machine learning service is expected to be the due diligence process in M&A, where every clause, term and detail can be tagged and made searchable, enabling the client’s legal team to find the anomalies and exceptions that are likely to present a greater risk than the standard clauses.
Speaking to Legal IT Insider about the new development, Exigent’s global managing director Nicola Stott (pictured) and LexPredict’s CEO Michael Bommarito said that the new offering means that corporates that don’t even know where to find their documents are not constrained by technology that only works within rigid rules.
Bommarito said: “We often think of two states of the world: a perfect state, where the corporate client has a document management system containing every document since it began – I don’t think I’ve ever seen that organisation – and a state of the world where someone is acquiring a company and might not even know where the documents are.
“Other solutions in this space don’t seem to care if those documents are in Salesforce or Office 365, for example. They say ‘if you give me a PDF I’ll tell you what the commercial terms of that lease are.’ That’s not a good fit for nine out of ten real applications. There are many circumstances where you have a laptop and a sales guy that’s leaving and you just need someone to go through it and say ‘here are all the sales agreements we have and all the facts in those agreements.’”
He adds: “A sales person could have bound you to a term in the body of an email and a court would enforce that.”
Key to the Exigent offering is presenting the client with an all encompassing service and Bommarito says: “The business doesn’t want to have to negotiate licenses for software; it just wants a clear picture of its sales arrangements.”
Stott said: “Over last 12-24 months we’ve been having conversations with corporates that really want to extract the value from their contracts but can’t get to the data. Their perception is that the cost and investment in getting their data and contracts to a position where they can analyse them is so big it’s too big a barrier.
“Coupling LexPredict’s technology and our talented resource will allow us to help corporates to organise their data in the first place and then do something with it at a price point that’s not prohibitive.”
Whereas Exigent has traditionally had dealings with corporate counsel interested in finding ‘ticking bombs’, Stott says it is increasingly the c-suite that are engaging with them over in-depth contract analysis.
“The c-suite are as interested if not more interested in the commercial insights from their contract portfolio,” Stott said. “GCs are interested in the ticking bomb. CEOs are massively interested in the commercial value of their contract portfolio. More and more we are having conversations at that level.”