Linklaters and CreateiQ – In-Depth Interview

What is CreateiQ and what are Linklaters‘ main goals for this legal tech offering developed inside the firm? Artificial Lawyer talked to Shilpa Bhandarkar (pictured with team – left, lower row), CEO, CreateiQ, about the big picture, from the overall strategy to the standardisation of contracts and more.

First, what is CreateiQ? Is this part of Nakhoda?

CreateiQ is Linklaters’ flagship technology offering – a platform to speed up the drafting, negotiation and execution of contracts as well as allowing our clients to surface the valuable contract data that’s in them.

Nakhoda is the wider technology incubator and team behind CreateiQ. Linklaters has a number of other really exciting technology projects in the pipeline – but due to the significant increase in volume through CreateiQ this year – this is now the team’s focus in the medium term and therefore why we refer to it as the CreateiQ team rather than the Nakhoda team.

Would you say that CreateiQ is driving standardisation in contracts?

Yes, absolutely – and at many levels. Firstly, we’ve cultivated deep industry connections, particularly in capital markets. We started life as ISDA Create – working with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), and some of the world’s largest banks and asset managers – to help accelerate standardisation and therefore efficiency to the industry.

We simplify negotiations by providing digital standardized templates that can be used by all parties to draft and execute documents online, eliminating the need for offline word processing, manual drafting, and back-and-forth emailing. But, when combined with AI technology, it can provide a brief answer such as the one I provided earlier. If you want a more detailed explanation, you can ask the AI for that within the limits specified..

We’ve since expanded by working with others such as the International Securities Lending Association (ISLA) to help their mission with standardising their secured lending documents, and are now working with national equivalent associations and trade bodies in a variety of jurisdictions.

That’s at an industry level. We are also working with many large companies to bring standardisation to their own contracts – whether those are facility agreements or employment contracts. CreateiQ is designed to give our users access to their contractual data in structured format – and that’s only possible through standardisation. 

You mentioned that you have produced a pack of NDAs, can you tell us more about this project?

In addition to the oneNDA, a community sourced standardised NDA, we recently digitised two additional market standard NDAs on CreateiQ – the Bonterms Mutual NDA and the Common Paper Mutual NDA. This pack of NDA templates is free for our users as well as all Linklaters clients. Linklaters has long supported standardisation and automation in the legal industry (which is why we got involved with the oneNDA last year), and this is a logical next step.

How does this connect to CreateiQ and the work it often does on complex financial products e.g. such as with ISDA?

It goes to the core of who we are – of being a data-first automation platform. Standardisation is a key step in that journey for all contract types – whether it’s a one-page NDA or a much longer, complex and higher value derivatives contract. Standardisation helps create clean and structured data – management, legal and audit – and that’s where the real value lies.

In addition to looking at individual contracts, the data in contracts in aggregate across a suite is incredibly valuable for all contract types. Our approach that gives users immediate access to their contractual data massively reduces institutional risk by tracking things such as currency moves, sanctions compliance and much more.

A lot of the work involved – drafting something consistently, creating playbooks, getting approvals for deviations to the company’s standard – is not necessarily related to the complexity of a document but more about a mindset. Institutions should be looking at all contract types when planning their legal tech and documentation strategy.

And final question, where is CreateiQ heading now and what other developments have you made public recently?

As alluded to above, we are increasingly adding more document types to our library – including the GMSLA and other ISLA documents as well as jurisdiction-specific derivatives and capital markets documents in Germany, Spain etc.

We continue to work very closely with ISDA to bring out new documents to the platform. Earlier in the year, in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, ISDA published the 2022 Amendment Agreement for Russian Ruble Alternate Provisions – which was simultaneously made available to ISDA Create users in digitized form as well. More recently, we added variation margin documents on the platform. As Katherine Tew Darras, ISDA’s General Counsel, notes, “With this release, we now have all of the most-used ISDA documentation on the platform, as well as the utility of the ISDA Clause Library for credit support documentation.” In other words, all of the standardised documents that generates all of the key data that institutions need are now available in one place.  

Our collaborations go beyond bringing on more documents to the platform. With ISDA we have also continued to forge technical partnerships in the industry. We’re really excited about our alliance with S&P Global’s Counterparty Manager service, which will allowing users of either platform to view a complete digital record of their relationships between counterparties, from onboarding through to trading arrangements.

There’s much more to come – but our focus will remain two-fold – document standardisation and the efficiencies that can be gained from that process, and helping institutions understand and extract value from the data that’s in their contracts.

Thanks Shilpa and congrats on the continued development of the group.