Machine readable — Lexpert

Mara Nickerson

May 8, 2017

New technologies are transforming the way law firms deliver legal services and contract automation is one of the most rapidly evolving areas of legal work, Osler Chief Knowledge Officer Mara Nickerson tells Lexpert. In his recent article, author Anthony Davis explores the way legal technologies are disrupting the legal sector. Mara, who is leading Osler’s implementation of these technologies in order to streamline efficiency, says document automation is one type of tool that is quickly becoming mainstream.

“For me, the thing that has changed a lot in the last year or so is that there used to be just a few tools, a few big companies — Contract Express, Exari, HotDocs — that have been around for a long time,” Mara tells Lexpert. “Now just about every product that is coming out in the legal industry these days has a document automation component. It is just becoming embedded in every system. It is finally being seen as core to the efficient process in legal.”

Mara also says that these types of contract automation tools are becoming more user-friendly and are increasingly becoming part of the fabric of legal services.

“The business case has swung to the point where it is worth investing in these [contract automation] tools,” Mara tells Lexpert. “And they’ve come a long way over the past 10 years. They have evolved and are easier to use. It’s easier to code the documents.”

But despite the benefits of implementing these new legal technologies — which include lowering client costs and increasing efficiency —  Mara says the proper scrutiny needs to be applied in terms of risk management protocols when using similar tools.

“When we are using the tools internally, I think there is no different risk than with any knowledge-management system,” Mara tells Lexpert. “When lawyers use our model precedents [with contract automation] we have a big, bold note at the top that says, ‘Don’t just fill in the blanks!’ You have to read it, you have to make sure it’s customized to fit your deal.”

Read Anthony Davis’s full article “Machine Readable” in Lexpert.