You receive a contract in Word. You send it by email to legal AI company BlackBoiler. In around 30 seconds you get back a red-lined version with track changes based on your playbook for this type of contract. You can then approve the changes and insert standard clauses your business has used before. You have just saved an enormous amount of time.
That is what AI company BlackBoiler does, and it believes its easy to use, highly functional method of removing the huge time drain of pre-signature review could have a big impact on the market.
As cofounder and CEO, Dan Broderick, explained to Artificial Lawyer: why are businesses doing work they have already done? That is to say, in many cases the contract terms that your firm, or company, is likely to use in most standard contracts already exists.
This legal text perhaps has been used dozens, maybe hundreds of times. And yet, often lawyers are expected to start the review process from scratch, as if all this institutional knowledge and experience – and past work hours – had never taken place.
“Why are businesses doing work they have already done?”
This is what Broderick and the team at the Arlington, Virginia-based AI company want to change. It’s also something that Broderick, who once worked at US firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, understands personally.
‘I was seconded to a client in Washington DC. I was reviewing contracts and it struck me that my client was paying $100s an hour for work that had already in effect been done before. Also, back at the law firm people were reviewing documents where the same changes were made again and again,’ he explained.
The realisation hit: there had to be a better way….and there was. BlackBoiler, cofounded with Jonathan Herr, is the answer. Started in 2016, followed by lots of hard work on NLP and the use of neural networks, the company came out of stealth mode in late 2018 and is now going to market with a serious intent.
It’s worth mentioning that cofounder Herr, who is CTO, is a very smart cookie, and is an AI expert who has worked with DARPA on neural networks. DARPA stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the US Department of Defense and which has helped to pioneer many areas of tech we use today. Check out their site, it’s impressive.
Broderick explained: ‘There is massive inefficiency. People are paying for redundant work to be done again and again.’ And this was music to Artificial Lawyer’s ears.
He also pointed out that in the US alone, large companies’ legal teams and their external lawyers are wasting multiple billions of dollars a year on this redundant work. They are stuck in a manual, start from scratch process that absorbs time and money – and in many cases, needlessly.
But, Broderick, as a lawyer, has been realistic about changing what seems to many people to be something that obviously should change.
‘We decided to make the system easy to use. So, it’s based on Word, track changes and email,’ he explained and stressed that even though there is a lot of very advanced tech running in the background they wanted to give lawyers the best user experience possible – and importantly one that fitted right into how they worked already.
In short, this is about getting an AI system right into the heart of an inhouse legal team’s workflow without the lawyers feeling anything has really been disrupted.
On the adoption point we discussed why clients have not been demanding this type of tech for years.
‘Big companies have the data [to do this], they just don’t leverage it,’ he explained.
It’s fair to say, some companies do build a wide range of templates and clause banks to address just the problem that BlackBoiler is trying to solve. And they are doing great work. But, it’s also fair to say many don’t. And clearly, as Broderick said, are simply pouring money down the drain.
Perhaps the bigger question is why do shareholders and the C-suite at large companies allow their inhouse legal teams to operate in this way? Is it because the CEO can’t be bothered to confront a room full of lawyers who are busy defending the company against a myriad of lawsuits? Is it because shareholders and investment funds with vocal leaders don’t think legal is a division that’s large enough to merit radical change?
Something is clearly going wrong. BlackBoiler – and other legal tech companies – are trying to address this.
Broderick notes that one early adopter of the system has seen a 66% reduction in the time it takes to review and mark-up contracts. For a large organisation that would be a very significant change over the long term. One client that they are allowed to mention at present is TE Connectivity, a company whose legal team has had a reputation for pioneering work.
To conclude, Broderick added that they are very keen to work and integrate with others, whether they are other point solutions or platforms.
‘We think we have a unique solution and encourage others to connect with us,’ he added.
And, let’s end with the company’s tagline, which is better than most: ‘Put your work, to work.’
And as a quick recap of what BlackBoiler does, here are the key steps, plus a short video below.
‘BlackBoiler is a legal technology company that creates contract efficiency solutions for companies, law firms, and legal service providers.
Through proprietary Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing technologies, BlackBoiler’s Ai-Assisted Contract Review is the first product to instantaneously review and revise contracts right in (WORD) Track Changes, just like an attorney.
- Automatically redline in-bound contracts based on your company’s standards and your historical edits.
- Send an email with an in-bound contract attached to your company’s dedicated BlackBoiler domain. Automatically get a redlined version back in 30 seconds.
- One-click insertion of your company’s standard negotiation clauses organized by contract domain to ensure consistency across the entire company regardless of who is negotiating.
- The library automatically updates to match contract-specific terms. No more find/replace.
This enables companies, law firms, and legal services providers to leverage historical contract review work to review and redline future inbound documents in a fraction of the time.’