How to automate your contract negotiation? The legal playbook is the answer

August 5, 2022

Legal tech
Artificial intelligence

Author: Gloria Qiao, Founder & CEO of Trusli

When it comes to lawyers using AI and technology, many general counsels and heads of procurement ask us: where is the best place to start? Our answer has always been: is there a process in your organization that’s predictable and repeatable? If so, we can automate it to improve productivity and reduce ambiguity. But that still sounds very abstract for many folks, so here's a good starting point: legal playbooks. Let us break it down for you. 

1. What a legal playbook is

A well-organized in-house legal department, as well as an experienced procurement team, will always try to push suppliers and customers to use their preferred contract templates. This reduces the variance between different contracts, enhances the efficiency of the team, and ultimately creates more leverage for the company. 

A clear next step, therefore, is to have a set of prepared and standardized responses when such templates receive pushback or in lawyer’s terms, are marked up. This captures positions and strategies in line with the company’s goals, promotes consistency through standardization, and mitigates risk. 

There are many names for such a set of responses. Some call them process manuals, training manuals, negotiation guidelines, or more concisely and playfully, a “Legal Playbook”. 

2. Where legal playbooks live 

Having a standardized, unified set of responses to proposed markups sounds great, but where do such guidelines come from, and where do they live?

Unfortunately, for many companies, the Legal Playbook lives only in the heads of one or two senior lawyers. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. 

Forward-thinking in-house counsel and procurement teams will put in the time and effort to distill, organize and draft such responses in formal documentation. Such documentation may live on someone’s hard drive, be forwarded around in emails or Slack messages, or better still, live on a Sharepoint or Google Drive where multiple teams have access. If you are already there, congratulations! You have now “digitized” your legal playbooks. The digitized playbooks are now shareable, updateable, searchable, and easily accessible from anywhere. If you don’t have a digitalized Legal Playbook or a Legal Playbook in any format at all, we can help you to get started. 

Trusli templates management

3. Why modern procurement and in-house legal teams must automate their playbook 

In today’s world where robots deliver goods and cars drive themselves, it’s shocking to see how often people use legal playbooks by simply having two-word documents open side by side and manually comparing the differences. 

With the right technology and artificial intelligence, we can automate your legal playbooks by deploying machine learning. We can compare the markup you receive back from a counterparty to your standard templates and playbooks and automatically suggest responses based on your pre-defined playbooks. 

This ability will make many procurement teams far more self-sufficient by freeing them up from a formal ‘legal review’ introduced during the earliest interactions. Instead, they can simply “self serve” and use playbook automation to generate company-approved responses to the first set of comments without the delay of engaging other groups. 

Similarly, in small in-house legal teams, instead of hiring many lawyers or paralegals to review each document by hand, by deploying legal playbook automation, the team can quickly move through straightforward agreement negotiations, such as NDAs, with a few clicks and a very light legal review. This increases the productivity and efficiency of the team, facilitates collaboration, and reduces the need for a large legal effort from the start. 

Trusli automated documents comparison

4. Automation of a team’s playbook is an ideal use case for the application of AI in legal tech 

We have talked a lot about the best use cases of AI in legal tech, and the adoption of an automated legal playbook is a prime example. It’s a predefined process that excellent lawyers help to draft. It’s data-driven, precise, and can be implemented as an easy first step. More importantly, it does not take away the ability of lawyers to review the nuances of a markup, and when appropriate, lawyers can still choose not to use the automated playbook response but rather choose to edit with their discretion. 

More importantly, over time, the use of machine learning can improve as the lawyers continue to improve the playbook. Similar to a self-driving car that is on the street and keeps learning behaviors based on actual scenarios and even simulation, the legal and procurement team can teach the AI, through actual modifications of the playbook and even simulation, what the preferred responses and strategies are when faced with push back by third-parties to the standard templates. We can even take these inputs and use them to improve our templates. Machine learning is a powerful and highly adaptable tool with the ability to constantly evolve and improve its operation and functionality, leading to outcomes that come close to perfection. 

Trusli automated playbook

5. Deploying a playbook doesn’t have to disrupt your current processes and tech stack 

Some of you may be thinking: all this sounds great, but I already have a procurement system, a lead intake system, and or a CLM. Where do I deploy the legal playbook? 

Well, you are in luck. Here at Trusli, we are helping procurement teams and in-house legal teams to deploy their legal playbooks in a nimble, agile way. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all, pre-built, full-blown system that forces you to change the way you work. Instead, our approach is a no-code, drag-and-drop, modular one. Show us what you’ve got and we can connect to all of them. Be it a procurement system, a deal intake system, or an existing CLM. Our approach to machine learning and data is derived from self-driving cars. We help you achieve true automation which is way beyond a simple deal dashboard and/or a typical CLM system. 

Sounds intriguing? Join us as our design partner. We are only looking for three. Grab a spot before they are gone. Wonder why we are the right people to do this? Check out our latest blog article here.

How to automate your contract negotiation? The legal playbook is the answer