In a perfect world, business and legal activity would flow smoothly, employee productivity would be peak levels, and work/life balance would be mandatory. But, since the world is far from perfect, corporations and their employees must do their best with imperfect environment. However, much of the business world is seeking a transformation of internal operations to achieve greater efficiencies and outcomes. With respect to the operation of business transaction contracting, there are several success stories of corporations embracing technology to help foster and achieve success – the key though is to lay the proper foundation which in some cases requires re-engineering process flows.
While every contract has unique characteristics specific to the commercial transaction, there are certain features that lend themselves to standardization. Indeed, most contracts have been assembled by business and legal teams with a ton of “cutting and pasting” from various contract templates; however, with a lack of systemic control. This can create what is known as content customization, worse yet and a ‘legal exception’ given the amount of complexity and risk a simple word change can generate. That is, content changes in the document assembly process can trigger a significant change in the intent or context and not be caught by the ‘naked eye’ in such process. So, if your company is a behemoth, or the proverbial “800 pound gorilla”, then maybe you can get away with just locking down your assembly process so no internal changes can be made. And even not allow for editing or negotiation with your counterparty.
When you picture a contract in your mind’s eye, you probably imagine a two things: paper and words. Specifically, a lot of paper, and a lot of words. However, with the digitization of the contract, hard copies of these documents are much more rare, and in the future, dense blocks of words may be sharing more space with images, charts, illustrations, infographics, and visualizations.
Lauren Harriman, J.D., CIPP/US, is a technology law blogger for TechTalkTranslated.com, the blog she launched during her final year at the University of San Francisco School of Law. She initially launched the blog so that she could explain tech and news about tech privacy to readers who were not tech-savvy and make them laugh at the same time. Today, she writes about emerging technologies and associated legal issues.