AI for Contracts on AI at Work

Posted by Alyssa Verzino on Mar 14, 2019 10:15:27 AM



Too often, company contracts can feel like murky waters - unclear and difficult to navigate. To fish out a specific piece of information means manually sifting through large volumes of information, which is time-consuming and painful, to put it mildly.

On Episode 32 of AI at Work, we meet LinkSquares, the company that’s created a web application for legal and finance teams to automate the search and reporting process around company contracts, replacing current manual contract review processes which are tedious, inefficient, and create legal risk. Vishal Sunak, CEO and co-founder, joins us to talk about how LinkSquares leverages AI and shares some advice for executives hoping to bring AI onboard.

Vishal describes that when companies come to LinkSquares, “what they tell us is they really don't have a lot of insight into what they've agreed to in their executed contracts with their customers and their vendors.” When the time comes for the companies to review the contracts, it’s painful and manual.

AI is the essential foundation that allows LinkSquares to address this pain point. They’ve built a feature called automated contract analysis, which is centered around the automated extraction of metadata.

To illustrate the impact this feature can have, Vishal paints the picture of a mid-market size tech company that’s just raised its series C funding. The problem is, the legal team is small. They need specific metadata points, yet don’t have the bandwidth to process thousands of contracts. It quickly becomes apparent, Vishal says, that “the access to structured metadata and what you’ve agreed to really becomes a key focus area.” And that’s where AI comes into play.

Vishal’s advice to executives who want to bring AI to their companies is this: start with the problem and work backwards from there. You might find that AI isn’t the best answer. Another interesting way of looking at is is to ask the question “how expensive is it to let your problem go unsolved?” Not one technology can solve every problem, and AI might not address your pain point 100%, but 90% is still an amazing efficiency.

With AI, there’s typically a lot of conversation around job loss due to automation. LinkSquares has seen the opposite happen. In automating the contract work legal teams have previously had to tediously sift through, general counsels and legal teams feel more empowered to be able to do their job. Rather than cutting three positions, Vishal says it's more like “why don’t we give three of your staff their own robot paralegal?”

Work efficiency and productivity soars as a result, letting the legal teams focus more on higher level business strategy work rather than endlessly scrolling through PDFs to try to find answers. In fact, some of LinkSquares’ clients have actually created positions within their companies to run LinkSquares instances, shares Vishal.

Looking at the future expansion and proliferation of AI-based technologies, Vishal shares his view that it's better to adopt AI now rather than later. “I think if you're a company that has that pain I think the time is always now. Again, relating back to the pain, that's usually the moments where the best discussions happen, right? If you're looking at any sort of AI solution, be it a Talla-type application where the support and creation of a knowledge base is manual, inefficient, and you're spending hundreds of hours and many people are trying to keep it updated. Why bother waiting if the future is here?” he says.

As for LinkSquares, Vishal is excited about his goal of collecting over a million fully executed business agreements, creating a dataset against which machine learning models can be benchmarked. In the future, he says, these predictive types of systems will be able to “help the legal counsel in ways that transcend hiring your law firm and transcend even what humans could do normally because now you’re looking at millions of data points.”

Tune in to this episode of AI at Work to learn more. And, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, or Google Play and share with your friends.

Topics: AI at Work