BlackBoiler Gives More Control To Clients, Boosts CLM Usability

NLP-driven contract review tool, BlackBoiler, which works off red lines in prior documents, is handing more control to the users by allowing them to create their own contract playbooks that integrate with the review process and where you can implement your own clause library.

The US company, which has sought to shake up the way agreements pass through the negotiation and review phase by leveraging past contracts of a similar type, is also looking to become more of a central part of the CLM field as well, by providing dashboards to keep an overview of the contracting process.

A screen shot of the clause library.

The new dashboard provides a snapshot view of: recent activities, contracts reviewed, offers up clause libraries – which connect to the build your own playbook capability, and analytics on average editing and cycle times. The tool can be used as a standalone solution or as part of a CLM implementation, the company noted.

Dan Broderick, founder and CEO of the company, told Artificial Lawyer that a major driver for the change was the challenge of handling contract matters for clients. This raised privacy issues for the software company.

(Moreover, by not handling things such as playbook creation it also meant that they did not have to get into offering legal services, as for example rival doc review company LawGeex does in the US in order to build playbooks for its clients.)

I.e. by giving back control to the user, rather than the tech company controlling things, this helps the users and frees BlackBoiler from a range of complex issues. They can then focus on the software.

‘We want to put the ability to make a model (i.e. a playbook for how contract language should look) in the users’ hands,’ he explained. ‘And so they can do this without BlackBoiler getting involved.

The dashboard.

He noted that getting through the security and data privacy checks for large clients, so that they could send BlackBoiler all their old contracts, which are then used as training material for its NLP, created a slow, expensive and complicated roadblock for onboarding new clients. It was therefore logical to find a way to enable clients not to have to need such steps.

The move will also empower ALSPs, such as Factor, which it already works closely with, to use BlackBoiler as part of a managed legal services offering. So, a corporate can outsource much of the contracting process to an ALSP, which uses BlackBoiler on behalf of the client.

This site then asked if the company was dropping the foundational idea behind BlackBoiler, i.e. to use NLP to analyse past red linings of similar contracts? Broderick stressed that ‘we will continue to have the ability to use the old contracts’.

The other aspect here is the ‘CLM component’ play. BlackBoiler is not trying to be a CLM vendor, but its offering can now more easily fit into a broader contract management system that a client may have already. With the dashboard they can see how reviews are going, manage workflows, and gather some key data along the way.

Overall, the company which started back in 2016 now has about 17 staff and has amassed over $5m in funding. It’s fair to say that one would have expected it to be a bit larger by now, but the new direction it’s going in – to give back control to the end client or an intermediary such as an ALSP – could be the step that really opens up the market for them.