The ContraxSuite platform has a range of tools for legal professionals to use on projects big and small. As part of our latest release, we have continued to improve the user experience for these tools by adding the new Clause Level Review workflow.
One of the essential elements of the ContraxSuite platform is that contract data is stored in a SQL database. The advantage of storing structured data using SQL databases is that a SQL database can be flexibly searched using a query language. This provides an intermediate step before building custom data models.
Query Languages and Advanced Search
What are the benefits of building a data model? Imagine a common scenario: You only have a weekend to make a legal decision regarding a few hundred contracts. In the past, this work would require you to read as many full contracts as possible in that short amount of time. Hopefully, the total set of contracts would have a consistent file naming convention, to make finding a good mixed sample of contracts relatively straightforward. Despite an adequate naming convention, though, this project still might take the entire weekend, and you may not sleep much, if at all.
ContraxSuite provides a better way to triage documents without needing to comb through each one in its entirety. A search for specific, relevant text units – phrases, sentences, paragraphs – leads to better results. All you need is the simple Boolean query language built right inside ContraxSuite.
Query languages are commonly used to search through legal language. The Advanced Search tools in LexisNexis, Westlaw, and even Google all use query languages that abide by Boolean search methods. ContraxSuite, like these other tools, makes all of its data objects searchable via these Boolean query languages. A “simple” search for one key word or phrase cannot often return sophisticated results that lawyers and legal professionals need. More powerful than a simple search, an Advanced Search in ContraxSuite provides an array of simple but powerful commands, like the following:
This search accomplishes more than engaging a few filters or running a search for a single item. With a few key strokes, the system can search for text units that have the word “advertising” and the word “marketing”, but will also return any text unit that contains a monetary amount, a date, or a date duration (e.g., the phrase “3 months”).
Building Custom Data Models
A few text unit-based Advanced Searches can provide helpful insight, and a huge time savings, as you build a data model. In the recent past, we have built custom models in ContraxSuite for analyzing contract provisions relevant to LIBOR remediation, or for resolving issues that may arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. To build these data models in ContraxSuite, we have used a mainly top-down approach: we anticipated the data types that legal professionals would need to proceed with LIBOR remediation or COVID-19 preparedness. Then we used targeted searches to confirm whether these data types were the most relevant.
Data types we knew would be relevant included terms like “Eurodollar” and “IBOR rate” for LIBOR remediation projects. Similarly, we anticipated that anyone conducting contract review in light of COVID-19 would be focusing their searches around phrases like “Force Majeure” and “Act of God”. A post-execution contract review will often require custom data fields like these, and conducting an Advanced Search query lays the groundwork for finding these terms, and other highly relevant words and phrases. Armed with these search results, building a data model becomes easier.
Now, let’s apply this logic to our scenario from above. The clock is ticking on your weekend review project, but now you have the ability to conduct an Advanced Search. First, you upload your contracts to a ContraxSuite project. Then, you run an Advanced Search to find any and all clauses within the contracts that: 1) pre-date the pandemic; 2) contain currency amounts above 50 million, and 3) concern Promissory Notes or Commercial Credit. These multiple stages of refinement give you a clearer picture of risk exposure in 2020, and a glimpse of how to build a better data model.
From this search, you see that there are only 54 text units (sentences or clauses within sentences) that meet all of these criteria. Your highest-impact contracts, and the clauses most relevant to you, are right there. In seconds, you have information that might have otherwise taken hours, or even days, to compile.
Well-built data models are a cornerstone of contract analytics platforms. Without advanced search tools, though, the iterative process of finding the right data fields for a model can take a lot of time. A contract analytics platform like ContraxSuite can’t predict the exact criteria you may need, but its Advanced Search tool can give you the power to quickly answer complex questions about your contracts, and about every individual clause within those contracts.
Lawyers and legal professionals work within tight deadlines, and bulk contract work can become daunting very quickly. ContraxSuite users can work smarter, not harder, by using Advanced Search to look across all documents in a project, find relevant data and patterns, and take a huge first step in the iterative process of designing an effective data model.