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LegalTech Soapbox: ThoughtRiver.

Our LegalTech Soapbox series is where we put the spotlight on #LegalTech vendors that are benefiting the legal fraternity and the broader network with their game-changing Legal Technology. 

Under the spotlight in episode 7 in ThoughtRiver, an automated contract review platform. We speak to Martin Davidson, Vice President - Customer, to get to inside scoop. Let's get into the Q&A! 

1. Hi Martin, tell us the story behind ThoughtRiver.

ThoughtRiver came in to being in 2016, when our founder Tim Pullan moved from Singapore to Cambridge to work with the world’s best AI experts on developing our platform. We’ve grown from those early days into a team of nearly 40 legal and technology professionals – united behind our mission to make all contracts easy to understand for everyone.

We do this to help organisations sign better, faster deals. We use AI to automate the contract review and negotiation process: helping improve process efficiencies, reduce risk, and speed up time to sign. Our customers see reduced costs, happier staff, and improved business outcomes.

2. What are the services/products that ThoughtRiver provides?

We harness technology to solve the problem of inefficient contract review. A combination of cutting-edge AI and an issues-based workflow helps lawyers and non-lawyers alike negotiate better and faster deals, by focusing on the issues that matter.

A combination of Natural Language Processing and Semantic Matching is used to flag potential risks in draft contracts, which are then highlighted in a digital issues list alongside advice notes and alternative clause suggestions. Users can work through the issues, collaborate with colleagues, and then share an issues report with the other side.

The platform supports multiple contract versions and can be used to track negotiations from draft to signature. We also offer analytic reporting across your signed and unsigned contracts, providing insights that facilitate data-driven decision making.

The ThoughtRiver platform can be customised to a client’s own unique contracting playbook. Support is provided for clients to do this themselves, or we have a number of Partners who we can recommend.

Out of the box we offer an NDA review tool, Purely NDA, which requires no AI training or set up. We’ve partnered with World Commerce and Contracting to align our advice notes and suggested clauses to their contracting principles.

3. How does it help optimise the daily operations of an in-house legal team?

ThoughtRiver helps in-house legal teams reduce risk and increase compliance by ensuring that contract review happens consistently against their playbook. First reviews can be done up to 66% faster than a manual review alone, with ThoughtRiver creating an issues list which allows the legal team member to quickly identify areas of remediation. Lawyers can focus on negotiating the key issues and accelerating the pace at which contracts are reviewed and remediated, meaning the time spent per contract reviewed is decreased.

Using ThoughtRiver can also help the legal department minimise external legal costs by allowing lawyers to do more work in less time, thus reducing the need to engage with outside counsel. 

4. What do you believe will be the most significant change in how in-house legal teams use technology in the next 10 years?

The next ten years are going to see legal technology, and in particular AI, become essential tools for legal departments of all sizes.

For fully remote or hybrid teams, tools that aid collaboration and transparency will be key to optimising working relationships, wherever team members are based. We also foresee an ever increasing need for contract self-service, with tools that support this as part of a collaborative approach with the legal team being front and centre when organisations look for tools to embed in their workflows.

The past couple of years have seen an escalating war for legal talent, with rising salary costs and changing expectations around the work environment making it increasingly difficult (and expensive) to hire. This means technology that enables teams to increase the amount of work undertaken without increasing headcount will become must haves. This helps teams keep pace with the increasing volume of work but also works as a hiring and retention aid as the new generation of lawyers look for innovation as standard.

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