In the 21st century, we all celebrate being around for the great “Information Age,” but there’s sometimes too much of a good thing.
One of the downsides of the Information Age is what neuro-psychologists call “cognitive load.” It’s the difficulty of reading and retaining all that information.
Applied to the legal field, cognitive load is a symptom of document review. In short, our technology is great at generating countless reams of boilerplate paperwork, but we simply don’t have enough eyeballs to read all this information.
Every legal professional is familiar with having stacks of documents on their desk, with most of them being contracts awaiting review. Contracts have to be studied in order to mine out the details of their provisions.
These can be obligations, limitations, liabilities, expiration dates, termination conditions, names, dates, and so on. Frequently, this work isn’t done by a law firm, but instead by the legal department within a larger company devoted to some other purpose.
Companies struggle to stay on top of the information in their own contracts, especially at major Fortune 500 enterprise corporations.
They may have thousands of contracts laying out their obligations to employees, sub-contractors, consultants, agents, and of course other corporations. In a typical legal setting, documents are discussed by the cartload.
Evisort‘s founders, comprising a multi-member team of graduates from both Harvard Law and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It started with the premise that Artificial Intelligence used for other applications in recent years could also be used to automatically “read” legal documents and compress them down to the few key facts whose details are crucial to a company’s well-being.
Their software system is often touted as “like Google for contracts,” so to speak.
The first way Evisort shows up on a company’s bottom line is by simply saving on raw manpower hours alone.
The AI system, capable of data-mining dozens of varieties of contracts, can scan in pages of legal documents and digest them into graphs, spreadsheets, and short reports.
The system cuts down what used to be days or even weeks worth of work down to minutes and seconds.
The second way Evisort pays for itself is that companies can use it for automated alerts and flagging of contractual binds.
Companies can and do violate their contractual obligations all the time, through simple misjudgment and human error.
This can incur millions in damages and liability, or, on the other end, can cost a company millions through neglecting to call out the other party on their violation.
Document research takes time on both sides, after all, so if the other party violates your contract, it isn’t a problem until you discover it.
This leads to the third way Evisort saves money: By opening up new opportunities.
A salesperson might be negotiating an important new deal, but they first have to check with the legal department to make sure this won’t default to another agreement.
Limited to manual document review, that sale might slip away during the week it takes to answer this query. Now with automated document review, the answer can come back in seconds, while the client is still in the meeting on the spot.
The Evisort Twitter quotes Microsoft front-man Bill Gates, who once said when asked what kind of company he’d start today if he were a freshman again, “I would start an AI company whose goal would be to teach computers how to read so they can absorb and understand all the written knowledge of the world.”
This turns out to be the sort of task which Evisort and other AI knowledge systems of its kind (there aren’t many of them yet) are doing within a specific field.
While we are yet a long way off from Bill Gates’ proposed goal, even developing an AI assistant that can do some of the heavy reading for you so you can make faster, more accurate decisions goes an incredibly long way.