Doc automation, it’s been around for a long time, and yet many lawyers are still not entirely happy with how most well-known systems work. Now, Contract Mill is launching a new iteration that provides a ‘visual’ approach, with no coding required, designed to be quick to learn and very intuitive to use. In fact, they reckon you can get up to speed with it in 15 minutes.
Artificial Lawyer has had a detailed walk-through of the new Contract Mill 2.0, and it did indeed appear to be easy to use and without all of the fiddly bits one sees in some other platforms. However, it’s best to let Kaisa Kromhof, Co-Founder, explain things, after all, she has created this. So, below are some questions and Kromhof’s answers, plus a couple of pics.
– When you say this is ‘visual’ what does that mean?
It means a new way for how the user can automate documents: right inside of a text view, without any coding.
You can select a phrase or any text on your document with a mouse and freely combine it to any question and answer it relates to. You don’t need any coding like “if-else” programming, square brackets, references, or tags.
And there’s more: While creating the automation you can continually see all the automated scenarios, including all possible nested questions and answers you want to use. Since we show them fully visually on the screen, you can see with one glance how the document has been automated and how the questions are related to text selections – and vice versa. Contract Mill builds and changes, upon your actions, a decision tree that is ‘under the hood’, automatically, on the fly.
– How does this differ from other companies that offer doc automation?
We have a unique logic in our interface where the ‘text is changed into rules’, not the other way around. From experience we know this works best for legal professionals.
Even when many companies have created document automation solutions and the end results are quite similar (e.g. a questionnaire used to generate a document), we differ in HOW the automation is done in the first place. And this is the most difficult part for us product designers and developers to create easy to use for the user.
Other solutions require creating first a decision tree before turning the logic into text by coding-like actions. Or they require users to know and use certain commands, square brackets, references, separate data input tables or tags to the text.
In our solution you don’t need any of those. All you see and work with is the text. You can for example, change a place of already automated text by simply dragging it to another place on the screen.
– How long would it take to automate the template for, e.g. a basic NDA?
Our users are experts on their own content, and when you know what to automate in your document, the technical automation itself with Contract Mill can be done in 15 minutes. Our new Clause Library functionality also allows you to re-use an automation block you’ve done earlier – with only one click. So, I’ve done a basic NDA in 5 minutes.
– Some other companies use coding, this can be a barrier to users, how much time will users need to learn how to use CM?
This is absolutely our strongest point: Anyone can learn to automate with Contract Mill in just 15 minutes. It doesn’t make a difference whether you’re automating a simple document, a complicated one or even a whole set of documents. We’ve made this possible with a simple and effective user flow that is always the same for all related documents.
We’ve put a lot of effort into designing and building our intuitive and self-explanatory, state of the art user interface that feels familiar to the user even if it’s brand new. We’ve studied the applications our customers love to use in their everyday life and brought similar options and easy-to-use functionalities now also to their professional tool.
– You are offering widgets, what are they and how will they work?
Our Widget means your document can be generated wherever your client is: On a website, intranet, client collaboration portal, you name it. It’s a unique way to help our customers to scale their business and to make document generation easily accessible.
You can choose to use widgets internally (e.g. in a company users can generate documents in their own digital work environment), externally (e.g. legal service providers can sell widgets to their clients to be used in clients’ solutions) or semi-externally (e.g. in joint workplaces/collaboration portals). In every option, for an end-user our widget looks like an easy call-to-action button on their preferred service.
Even without any own access/personal subscription to Contract Mill’s service, with just one click, the end-user gets to fill in her answers to a questionnaire and download the automated content document in docx format.
– How is this priced?
Contract Mill is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and pricing consists of monthly subscriptions. We offer three different packages designed around the needs of each type of customer. The packages take into consideration how many users the customer could have. This allows also e.g. one-lawyer firms to get on board even if this service is built to serve enterprise level customers.
– And finally, how is the company growing and are you looking for funding?
People realise now the effectiveness of automation, and the Covid-19 situation is accelerating that change. We can see healthy growth taking place. We successfully closed a funding round last year. So at this moment we are not looking for funding. I am proud of our team, and obviously our investors share the same vision of the growth that we have ahead of us with the new 2.0 version!
[ Full disclosure: Tromans Consulting, the strategy and innovation business affiliated with Artificial Lawyer, has provided pro bono advisory input to Contract Mill. ]