Thomson Reuters Links Contract Express With Synergist Automation Co.

Global legal tech company, Thomson Reuters (TR), has partnered with contracting automation platform, in a move that will see the Germany-based startup integrate with the well-known Contract Express document automation system.

Synergist, which Artificial Lawyer first featured in 2017 (see article) provides users with ‘an intuitive platform that enables customers to send, negotiate and sign high volumes of legal documents’ using automation techniques.

It’s what one can call a ‘contracting automation platform’ in that the idea is for users to meet in a shared digital space and hammer out relatively simple deals, e.g. a sales contract, within certain defined limits that exist for that type of deal. It’s perfect for people who are not legally trained as negotiation conditions and limitations can be pre-set by the hosting party’s legal team. I.e. so a sales rep can complete a legal agreement without needing to call the GC for input, while the GC knows the sales rep can’t go too far in terms of what the company has decided is possible to agree.

UK-based Juro is another example of a contracting automation platform, and both companies entered the market at a similar time.

TR said in a statement, that ‘through this agreement Contract Express customers can take advantage of key features, including:

  • real-time visibility on the progress of documents after they’ve been sent
  • a simplified negotiation experience for non-lawyers supported by negotiation playbooks
  • structured data around contracting workflow, including where and how to reduce time to signature.’

It’s also another example of TR building relationships with legal tech pioneers, either to buy them, as happened with Contract Express some years ago, or to partner with them, as happened with legal AI review company, eBrevia, last year.

TR has also not been shy of building their own advanced legal tech, as seen with the roll-out of the new Westlaw Edge platform, which includes plenty of machine learning tech – all built inhouse.

As someone at TR said to Artificial Lawyer at a recent conference : ‘We may not always be the first to release new tech, but believe me, we are very aware of what is happening in the market and are always figuring out what to do, whether to build, buy or partner.’

The collaboration with synergist has seen a small team from both companies working together over several months. The fully-integrated extension for Contract Express ‘will continue to improve based on customer feedback’, TR added.

The companies at work together.

Chris Boulter, director of Contract Express at Thomson Reuters, commented on the deal: ‘Our customers are constantly looking for ways to standardize and streamline the steps after documents have been generated and sent to counterparties. Best practice, consistent work product, and efficiency gains made through automation can simply stop at the negotiation stage, and this is why we find the platform so compelling.’

Ed Taylor, Co-Founder of Synergist, said: ‘This is a landmark partnership for us and we’re thrilled to be working alongside Thomson Reuters to take our joint value proposition to customers. It’s what they’ve been asking for. This also isn’t just a simple integration between two APIs.

‘We’ve developed an entirely new conversion engine so documents generated in Contract Express retain the same ‘look and feel’ in but are represented as structured data, with no migration or re-configuration necessary. This is an essential requirement for legal teams to take advantage of automation,’ he added.

Carlos Gamez, senior director of Legal Innovation with Thomson Reuters, concluded: ‘A thoughtful collaboration process based on incrementalism, human-centred design and empowered decision-making can help synergise different operating structures – much like the lock system in the Panama Canal does between two oceans.’