Contract Review Meets Machine Learning
72 Hours to Close the Deal
Reed Smith was approached by one of their clients, a global technology company, on a Friday morning with a contract review request. It was a tall order: manage and track negotiations from multiple parties across 55 clauses of an MSA (master service agreement) and strategize for the impending deal.
In order to meet their fast-approaching deadline, Sharri Wilner, client technology solutions manager at Reed Smith, imported master boilerplate language that could be used to compare and contrast against all the various language scattered throughout each contract clause.
“In corporate transactions, and especially when you’re dealing with contract analysis, attention to detail is critical,” Sharri explained. “It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack—each specific phrase has to be reviewed word for word. In the past, it’s been a very manual and expensive process, and many consulting firms and law firms are using archaic technologies. We saw a huge need for an automated solution so our attorneys could spend less time proofreading and more time strategizing.”
“We saw a huge need for an automated solution so our attorneys could spend less time proofreading and more time strategizing.”
From Spreadsheets to Mass Actions
Previously, when Reed Smith worked on this type of transaction, two or three junior associates would review the contract sections against each party’s change and produce a variance report on a shared spreadsheet.
With the need for an automated solution, the team at Reed Smith sought Heretik, a Relativity Developer Partner and creators of an application for contract review in the Relativity App Hub. Heretik’s machine learning solution creates categorization for contract types, finds important contract sections, and organizes key elements within contract sections.
Once Sharri and the team had the boilerplate contract language nailed down, they ran a comparison report to quickly understand and review the differences between their clause templates and the versions from each party. With Heretik, what previously took a few associates over a day to complete could now be done in a few hours.
“When you’re dealing with so many different parties and various business units, you can have four or five versions of every clause,” Sharri explained. “Before Heretik, we were manually reviewing records during the negotiation phase. Depending on the complexity of each section, That process could take days to complete.”
Having the changes organized and automatically populated within Relativity, the team at Reed Smith was able to fast-track to a multi-party negotiation to compare and contrast the different versions and agree upon a final version.
Nobody Puts Data in the Corner
In the end, the Reed Smith team was able to implement all the contract changes that same day and close the deal by Monday. And they’re continuing to find that the productivity boost with Heretik wasn’t just an anomaly.
“Having a litigation tool like Relativity, combined with the insight of Heretik’s platform integration, is a huge advantage,” Sharri said. “We’re no longer wasting time or money scouring through contracts, and we’re able to be more diligent in transactions.”
“We're no longer wasting time or money scouring through contracts, and we’re able to be more diligent in transactions.”
M&A work, and other transactional matters, requires significant behind-the-scenes orchestration. Having the technology to provide insight into these big-picture items helped the team at Reed Smith to streamline this process and enabled them to get to work quickly. Cutting down the manual work freed up Reed Smith to provide their client with more thorough counsel—like focusing on the risk analysis behind the transactions and funneling those risk areas to appropriate experts, like senior attorneys, partners, and even back to the client, if necessary.
“Heretik has allowed us to expand our business into contract portfolio organization and lifeycle management. By having Heretik on top of what we’ve already implemented in Relativity, we’ve significantly cut down on manual work involved in M&A projects,” said Bryon Bratcher, director of practice solutions at Reed Smith. “Plus, we have everything organized and indexed without ever having to leave Relativity. We’ve seen a tremendous added value for our clients since we have that institutional knowledge behind all the work they’ve done.”
“Heretik is the piece of the puzzle we were missing to take the innovation we’ve already developed with Relativity to the next level,” Sharri said. “As soon as I saw it, I knew this was exactly what we’ve been waiting for.”
“Heretik is the piece of the puzzle we were missing to take the innovation we’ve already developed with Relativity to the next level. As soon as I saw it, I knew this was exactly what we’ve been waiting for.”
Heretik’s Viewer, tailor-made specifically for attorneys, enables users to pinpoint critical data—like risks, obligations, and opportunities—all buried within contracts, and rapidly populate Relativity fields.
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