Hallways filled with people. Some were dressed to kill, others dressed for comfort. Lanyards, bags, and swag were everywhere. Ah, it was good to be back!
Since Legalweek 2022 was my first in-person event in two years, it was a whirlwind of a week. I finally met many, though sadly not all, of those who have inspired me and supported me on this unpredictable journey through the evolving world of legal technology.
It felt great to be in person again and engaged in spontaneous conversations with many folks farfar more intelligent than I am doing extraordinary things.
Looking back upon the week that was, a few themes emerged:
1) Education around CLM is needed more than ever
While CLM has been around for some time now, I heard from numerous folks who seemed to conflate document automation with contract management. They are not the same! While document automation, e.g. the automatic creation of a document or set of documents, can be an element of contract management, it is just that – one element of typically many more. It was exciting to see so many document automation vendors as well as Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) vendors at Legalweek, but they are not one and the same. Far from it.
2) Getting the basics right is critical before you turn to shiny tech
I spoke at Legalweek about how to unlock data within your contracts by using CLM. Businesses run on data and yet so many companies have little insight into their contract data. This is where CLM can be a game-changer. However, what became clear during the Q&A part of my talk was what to do when you are implementing CLM without getting all the dependent functions on board or aligned with the implementation process. I’m going to be blunt here. CLM will not work by itself. It is not something that you can just flip a switch and see the results right away. You need to have your people supportive of, involved with, and feel empowered by the selection and implementation of the solution well ahead of when you plan to begin setting it up. It’s not just about people. You also need to have clearly defined workflows in place that account for the new CLM solution you are putting into place.
3) Not All “AI” is made equal
AI (aka Artificial Intelligence) is still in its early days. Yet, the way the term was thrown around at Legalweek, you would think that AI is a fact of life and involved in everything! I’m going to tell it to you straight here. AI right now is great at analyzing data and following instructions that you give it, but it is not yet capable of being able to make decisions on its own without any human input of some kind. However, when you give it the right instructions or the right data, it can be a real timesaver and help you from spending time on repeatable, time-consuming, and standardizable tasks. This includes scenarios like telling you if an agreement is aligned to your standard terms or contains non-standard terms or provide you with alternative language to use if your standard clause is rejected by the other side. Not all companies use the term AI the same way. Be sure to ask questions and dive into what their AI purportedly offers and make sure that its capabilities are tuned to your expectations.
Legalweek 2022 was great fun and it felt “normal” – a feeling I have longed for after two long years of endless Zoom meetings. I look forward to more in-person events (hopefully!) and connecting with more and more of those who are working, like me, on making the legal industry more tech-enabled, data-driven, and meeting the needs of legal services consumers.