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Contracts AI in Document Management Systems

Noah Waisberg • May 30, 2022 • 2 minute read

What are Document Management systems?

If you’re in a law firm or corporate legal department, a document management system (DM) is likely among your most important software. A document management system enables teams to file, organize, and access documents (and, today, even items like emails) for a particular client, customer, project, matter, or file (Canadian for “matter”). DMs minimize the potential for duplication of work and help prevent teams from using the wrong documents. They also allow users to find appropriate precedent.

However, document management systems have limitations, including around search. Two major issues with searching DMs are:

  1. They can contain a lot of documents - sometimes millions or more.
  2. It can be difficult to get users to add metadata to the DM when they add documents to it.

Extra metadata on documents makes for better searches. For example, instead of doing a text search for “Joint Venture Agreements,” a document management system user could—if their DM was populated with appropriate metadata—search for Joint Venture Agreements (even ones that don’t use the words “Joint Venture Agreement” in them) governed by Texas law which contains an exclusivity clause. Sounds great, right?! The problem is 2. - users often fill in the bare minimum metadata. Automated enrichment of DM metadata is a possible solution. Contracts AI can automatically identify (with often reasonably high (though not perfect) accuracy) DM-relevant metadata like agreement type, document language, title, parties, date, governing law, firms, companies, and individuals listed in the notice block, and extract key clauses (like non-competition, standstill, or materiality scrape provisions in merger agreements).

AI-based DM metadata enrichment can help across the board. However, there are two reasons DM owners might prioritize contract metadata enrichment projects above other types of metadata enrichment:

  1. Contracts tend to be among a business' most important documents. At law firms, they are (besides emails) one of the principal work products corporate lawyers create, and there are a lot of corporate lawyers. In fact, most Biglaw firms have more corporate lawyers than they do any other kind. It follows that document management systems (1) contain a lot of contracts, and (2) often get searched for appropriate precedent contracts.
  2. Contracts AI (in the form of Contract Analysis and AI-enhanced Contract Lifecycle Management software) tends to already be among the AI that law firms and in-house lawyers are most familiar with. As such, it may be easier to get these lawyers to understand and accept document management system contract metadata enrichment projects.