February 14, 2014

Exari’s London Insurance Market Competition

London Insurance Market practitioners and their overseas correspondents are invited to participate in Exari’s contest for a chance to win an iPad Air and have their document of choice automated and hosted by Exari for the market to use.

Exari London Insurance Market Competition

Exari is launching a competition for practitioners of the London Insurance Market and their overseas colleagues. We are looking for suggestions of widely used documents that would benefit the market most if automated.

The person providing the best suggestion will win an iPad Air, and the selected document will be automated and hosted by Exari for the whole market to use.

The best documents for you to nominate for automation should have the following characteristics:

  • Non-proprietary 
  • Used by a large number of people 
  • Complex, with lots of data points and optional text 
  • Used by overseas correspondents (optional) 
  • One of a series of related documents where data can be re-used (optional)

Examples include application forms, questionnaires, compliance documents and audit questions. But feel free to be creative and tell us which ones you think should be automated and why.

Entries will be accepted through March 28, and results will be announced on March 31. For more details and to enter the contest, please visit our site. Multiple entries are encouraged.

Exari’s Intelligent Contract Management software is used by brokers, insurance companies and Lloyd’s syndicates to create and manage a full range of insurance documents, from applications to quotes to fully claused policies. We automate the document creation process by generating an easy-to-use browser-based questionnaire that guides end-users through a structured process to create high-quality contracts and key business documents. The answers are captured so they can be re-used and provide data for analytics and reporting. To see how the documents are generated, please try our demo.

Exari is also part of the Lloyd’s SmartForms project, which we presented in January with our partner Tier2 at a Lloyd’s Technology Thought Leadership Session. Designed to show the insurance market the benefits of document automation, the project received a strong response from the audience.

January 28, 2014

A Look Back at Legal Technology in 2013

We have just read a very interesting post on LawSites by Robert Ambrogi that provides his thoughts on the 10 most important legal technology developments of 2013.  At Exari, we’ve experienced many of these trends firsthand by working closely with dozens of leading companies on their document assembly and contract management challenges. Here are a few of our own insights and observations on these developments:

1. Social Media
We agree that lawyer participation in social media has become mainstream. Nearly all of our relationships include interactions with lawyers, and we find that they are more and more willing to engage online.  Social media is now an important way for us to interact with both clients and prospects. However, while we see lawyers embrace networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and other professional communities, activity on networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, is still relatively low.

2. The Cloud
Use of cloud-based legal solutions is definitely on the rise. During 2013, most of our clients that are not either financial institutions or law firms, have been opting to deploy technology like Exari's Contract Management solutions in the cloud. Companies find this to be easier, more efficient and less expensive than hosting it internally. Additionally, we are seeing many of our clients integrate our software with other cloud solutions such as Salesforce.com, pricing tools, document management, etc.

3. Technology Competence
The impact of technology on the legal profession is undeniable. Not only must lawyers be conversant in technology to do business with clients, but now, more than ever, they are at a competitive disadvantage if they do not use it in their own practices. Technology provides tools for lawyers to become more efficient, streamline repetitive tasks and spend more time adding value. Many younger lawyers were brought up with technology and are very comfortable using it both personally and professionally.

4. Mobile
While mobile technology is still emerging from a contract management perspective, almost all of Exari's clients are looking for mobile access for review and approvals during the contracting process. To accommodate the growing need, our latest release fully supports mobile and tablet views.

5. Computer Analytics
We believe that data and analytics in the contracts space will be the place to look for significant innovation in the coming years. Improved analytic capabilities give lawyers more visibility into everything they do and the ability to both increase compliance and reduce risk. For example, using contract data, lawyers can now easily see where they’ve used non-standard clauses, or where contracts are being held up during the approval process.

6. Enhanced Access to Justice
Technology is enabling more self-service and empowering non-legal users to create documents using pre-defined clause libraries. Here Exari has worked with companies and non-profits to make document-centric legal processes, such as creating a will, more available to everyone.  

7. Emergence of Visual Law
A picture is definitely worth a thousand words. That’s why we’ve created a number of tools that allow our clients to visualize the rules behind a contract template. This makes it much easier for them to understand how contracts are drafted. In fact, several law schools have approached us about using our tools to help teach their students to draft better contracts.

8. Legal Technology at Law Schools
To better prepare their students, more and more law schools are exploring how to incorporate more technologies like document assembly and contract management into their students’ law school experience. For example, Vermont Law School currently teaches a class on Document Assembly using Exari's software.

9. Practice Management
While Exari doesn't have much to do with practice management, we are able to integrate with these systems and enable law firms or internal corporate legal departments to implement more efficient processes with fewer errors.

10. Security
Security has always been a hot button with our clients, but we find that it’s becoming even more critical.

With the need for legal technology and automation on the rise, we expect 2014 to be an exciting year for the document automation and contract management space. Stay tuned! 

January 23, 2014

How Document Assembly Makes Lawyers Smarter

Neuroplasticity is a relatively new term that describes the way our brains are capable of continually adapting and changing in ways that are both surprising and amazing. It turns out that we form new neural connections throughout our lives in response to new situations or changes in our environment.

In his book ”The Brain That Changes Itself”, Norman Doidge writes about people who have been affected by stroke and other trauma, but whose brains have been able to reconfigure themselves to perform tasks previously thought impossible.

“The brain is a far more open system than we ever imagined, and nature has gone very far to help us perceive and take in the world around us. It has given us a brain that survives in a changing world by changing itself.”

So how does this relate to Document Automation and Contract Management? If you ask lawyers what attracted them to their profession in the first place, most will say that one of the main reasons was because they found it intellectually challenging.  But in reality, many lawyers find themselves spending much of their time dealing with relatively routine legal issues and simple contracts.

At Exari we divide the world of contracts into three main buckets:

  1. Low complexity, very high volume contracts.
  2. These are not typically negotiated, don't change much and are very simple to produce. End-User License Agreements (EULAs) are a typical example. 

  3. Medium-high complexity, medium-high volume contracts. 
  4. Because these are negotiated in predictable ways, they are perfect candidates for automation. Loan Agreements, Master Agreements, and Services, Sales and Employment Agreements typically fall into this category.

  5. Low volume, very high complexity contracts.
  6. These are one-off deals and highly transaction specific contracts. Merger and Acquisition contracts are a good example.

Which of these three categories are best for lawyers’ brains? Clearly it's the complex, one-off deals. These contracts require much more thought, negotiation and problem solving skills. It's these deals that will test and improve your brain power by challenging your thinking and stimulating new neural connections.

By automating and removing the more boring, cookie-cutter contract categories, we help your legal team focus more on the challenging aspects of producing contracts. We'd like to think that this brain benefit makes Exari customers even smarter for choosing our Intelligent Contract Management software.

December 26, 2013

Exari to Present at Lloyd’s Technology Thought Leadership Session

Lloyd’s SmartForms project results demonstrate how underwriters and brokers can capture risk data while producing complex insurance documents more efficiently.

On 7 January 2014, Exari, along with its partner Tier 2, will present an overview of the SmartForms project at the first Lloyd’s Technology Thought Leadership Session of 2014. During this event, Martin Kett, VP, Insurance Client Development at Exari, will show how complex MRCs can be created efficiently and accurately using Exari’s web-based questionnaire, capturing risk data as a by-product of the process without any additional effort. The 25-30 minute presentation will be followed by a 10-15 minute Q&A session and will take place at the Old Library at Lloyd’s in London.

If you are interested in attending this free session, please register by 30 December 2013. The registration will open at 8:30 a.m. for an 8:45 a.m. start. Please note that due to limited places, Lloyd’s may have to restrict places to two per company.

November 21, 2013

The Prius Effect: the Future of Legal Services May Be a Man-Machine Hybrid

Can machines out-think humans, today or maybe someday?  And what impact could this eventuality have on professions such as the law?  Will computers replace the lawyers and contract managers who currently create, negotiate, analyze and track contracts?  Or does the complexity of these tasks require a mysterious human touch?

In a recent New York Times Sunday book review, Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, reviews "Smarter Than You Think", a book by technology journalist Clive Thompson. If Thompson is right, the future may not favor man or machine.  Rather, we'll see a hybrid model emerge: the best of human and machine intelligence working together.  Perhaps, we should call it the Prius Effect?

"Thompson’s point," states Isaacson, "is that 'artificial intelligence' — defined as machines that can think on their own just like or better than humans — is not yet (and may never be) as powerful as 'intelligence amplification,' the symbiotic smarts that occur when human cognition is augmented by a close interaction with computers."

One example Isaacson uses from the book is chess: "The year after his defeat by Deep Blue, Kasparov set out to see what would happen if he paired a machine and a human chess player in a collaboration. Like a centaur, the hybrid would have the strength of each of its components: the processing power of a large logic circuit and the intuition of a human brain’s wetware. The result: human-machine teams, even when they didn’t include the best grandmasters or most powerful computers, consistently beat teams composed solely of human grandmasters or superfast machines."

It's easy to see how this could play out in transactional legal services and contract management.  A good lawyer is able to play with words to express subtle changes in meaning and thus solve delicate contract negotiations in ways machines won't match any time soon.  But lawyers are slow, and will never match the speed and consistency of an automated drafting wizard for routine and predictable transactions.  In a hybrid model, the machine will pump out the best first draft, and the humans will work their word-smith magic on the complex deals that need it.

Contract analysis seems equally destined to be hybrid.  Humans can read and understand documents and their meaning despite huge variations in how things might be expressed and despite the coffee stains and hand-scrawled notes that might grace the page.  But human reading is slow.  Machines, on the other hand, can grind through huge volumes of documents very quickly, and will do a decent job of basic analysis of the data that it can understand.  But machines will make mistakes that humans won't.  In a hybrid model, the machine will help the people to work faster, and the people will ensure that the machines don't make silly mistakes. 

The hybrid model of legal services may not be as sensational as an uber-machine that wipes human lawyers off the face of the earth.  But sometimes the future is a little dull.  Like the Prius.  A boring little car that's a bit less smelly and a bit less noisy, and won't leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

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