AI in Corporate Legal Operations and What It Means for You


The Legal Tech Renaissance And Making It Work For You

By:Sarvarth Misra | Founder and CEO, CONTRACTPODAI

Technology providers will need to focus on ease of use, competitive pricing, and quicker implementations to drive more holistic and faster digital transformation for in-house counsel.


The Legal Tech Renaissance is here, finally. You are all part of a generational shift in legal leadership that has increased the adoption of technology in general and artificial intelligence (AI) in particular.

Stories of legal tech and AI are well documented — specifically among major law firms striving to provide their customer with true value-add experience. Less known is the growing revolution among in-house – corporate legal departments to transform their legal function digitally using AI-powered technologies.

This is absolutely true for contract management where general counsels are now taking decisive leadership roles in transforming this broader business function through the use of technology.

That terrain is vastly different from where we were even six years ago when I left a career as a practicing commercial lawyer to start ContractPodAi. I established the organization as an end-to-end contract management platform “designed by lawyers, for lawyers” with built-in, out-of-the-box workflows and functionality to meet the scaling demands of in-house legal teams in relation to contract management.

At that stage, the general counsel was, at best, an influencer in the decision-making process for procuring any legal software. Fast forward to 2018 and they are now the clear decision-makers when it comes to purchasing legal technology.

Furthermore, they have been allocated specific budgets for purchasing this software and new roles, such as legal engineers and legal operations managers. Both are growing in prominence as the balance of power within the sector moves to stronger, more decisive in-house legal teams.

Our Journey So Far

We are seeing these changes all around us. And in many ways, ContractPodAi has been a benefactor of this tectonic market shift. Within six years, we have evolved from an upstart to becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing legal tech providers. We have supported digital transformation projects for in-house legal teams of some of the world’s largest corporations. Within the last 12 months, we have completed more than 40 such enterprise implementations.

The game-changer for our success has been the addition of E:V, our end-to-end AI contract analyst. E:V is powered by IBM Watson, developed by senior commercial lawyers. It is rigorously tested using thousands of contracts to train the machine. It can read, analyze and interpret legal language within contracts and provide the user with a near-instant summary of principal legal obligations.

AI technology automatically populates these obligations into the platform, saving lawyers hundreds of working hours in reviewing contracts and abstracting key legal information.

While our success has been overwhelmingly exciting, I am a firm believer that we have only scratched the surface within this market segment. Technology providers will need to focus on ease of use, competitive pricing and quicker implementations to drive more holistic and faster digital transformation for in-house counsel.

Where Do You Start?

I am often asked whether digital transformation is simply about buying the right software for a particular organization. There is no question that is a certainly a starting point and time should be taken to determine the correct tech. But while thinking about implementation, GCs need to consider four key elements of managing implementation from both a financial budgeting and resourcing perspective:

  1. The selection of the best legal tech platform;
  2. IT infrastructure, including hosting whether on-site or in the cloud;
  3. Legal engineering; and
  4. Machine-learning support, in the case of AI-powered solutions.

ContractPodAi differentiates itself from most of our competition by providing all four of these elements as part of our legal AI as-a-service fee structure, thus saving in-house counsel time and money to procure all the four elements separately.

The ContractPodAi Five-Point Guide to Digital Transformation

1. Incremental versus big-bang transformation

While there are two schools of thought on how the transformation should happen, our experience shows that in-house legal teams that have implemented an incremental strategy towards digital transformation have been able to reap the benefits of success faster and more consistently. Change management is hard; culture change is even harder. A “land and expand” phased approach ensures lessons can be learned and appropriate changes at each phase can be made before implementing a full-blown rollout across the organization.

2. Out-of-the-box versus customized solution on “Day One”

Once you have chosen your legal technology product, aim to implement the product out of the box rather than drawing up wish lists of customizations before you start using the product to its full capacity. Not only can you start reaping the benefits of the product faster, but customizations are expensive, project delays and failure risks are common, and you wouldn’t know exactly what you need customized unless you have been able to use the product to its fullest extent.

3. Identify internal product champions

User adoption is the critical factor in digital transformation success. Our biggest triumphs have come when customers have appointed internal ContractPodAi champion roles, with the aim of those roles being the voice of the product and conveying its benefits to other users within their business function. These champions become drivers for behavioral change and ensure user penetration and usage within their business function.

4. Focus on business outcomes

Don’t get bogged down with the technicalities of features. Use the product to achieve clearly drawn-out business outcomes. Eventually, use the technology as a strategic tool which will help you achieve the big-picture result you are after.

5. Set realistic ROI benchmarks and outperform

While setting benchmarks for return on investment (ROI) is always a good practice, there is sometimes a tendency to set overtly ambitious benchmarks that are hard to meet. Think about what you should realistically expect to save and improve in the next six, 12, and 24 months. Making the ROI incremental and realistic will deliver better results, keep the team motivated to continue on the path of excellence and support long-term success.

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