Transform messy contract negotiations
We’re thrilled to share our latest product advancement — DocJuris Arbiter. What makes this upgrade to DocJuris especially exciting is that it accelerates our vision to be the fastest and most accurate way to close deals. In this brief, we’ll lay out why we built it, and why you should start using it today.
The current state of contract feedback and negotiation
In an online survey of 250+ contracting professionals, we learned that 50% of redlines originate at the beginning of a negotiation, and, more broadly, 86% of a contracting professional’s time is spent on review, redlining, and negotiation.
Why is this initial step in a doc negotiation so important?
An initial markup to a contract can take weeks, and the technology to facilitate feedback hasn’t changed in any meaningful way for 25+ years since. Contract versioning is a mess, redlines overload business processes, and time-draining drafting activities crush morale and constrain the contract lifecycle. As one Fortune 500 General Counsel put it, “force multipliers of efficiencies can be unlocked by peeling back the collective noise of contract negotiations.” In other words, exposing the bottleneck is the first step to understanding how an organization can drive digital transformation across legal, procurement, and sales teams.
How first draft contract review works today
There are two common ways to initiate/send a first draft contract to a supplier, counterparty, or other external collaborator. The business team or a legal coordinator will typically send the first draft as a:
- Word document with brackets and highlights; or,
- locked document or PDF for e-signature.
Unfortunately, there's a big question looming when studying this pattern. What’s the best route? Is there something in the middle, as a negotiator might ask? Most CLM products and legaltech solutions are focused on document assembly on one end of the spectrum; on the other, AI analytics on signed contracts.
Where things break down
An enormous gap of intent exists between an open Word doc or locked PDF, and hours, days, and weeks lost because of one simple issue — the format of the document. Each approach (Word vs. PDF) serve different purposes, but procurement teams are often stuck with a binary choice that has scale limiting disadvantages. There are some options today (e.g., Google Docs or Sharepoint), but these are internal collaboration tools and are not designed for negotiating with an external party—negotiations are inherently asynchronous.
Problems with Relying on Word Docs
When it comes to sending a Word doc, there’s a laundry list of risks and challenges with the first draft. For example:
- An open Word doc invites unlimited commentary and redlines. Even the most disciplined and “business friendly” attorney will find it difficult to skip over key terms. After all, legal teams are, by design, tasked with reducing enterprise risk. This is true for both sides of the negotiation. Worse, documents in Word provide no initial guidance or boundaries on what’s negotiable. The result: a sea of red on the first cut.
- Word docs are not secure. Track changes can be turned off, and the underlying document code can be modified by the counterparty. In some cases, provisions can be made hidden even with track changes on or they can be modified to appear (or not appear) in clean mode. Locking is also ineffective — lock a doc and then copy and paste everything into an empty doc to remove security restrictions.
- Reminders, formatting, and data points are lost. When your counterparty is staring at your document, there’s no sense of urgency or deadline, and the template formatting you worked so hard on goes out the door.
Problems with Relying on PDFs
As an alternative or “more secure” path, teams might consider a PDF as the brute force approach to a contract negotiation. This approach creates more problems:
- Counterparty will request a Word doc anyway. The moment a PDF hits a legal department’s inbox, there are immediate requests for a Word doc. On average, this wastes 1-4 days of time.
- PDFs will be messily converted. Even if you consider the opportunity cost of not sending a PDF, there are tools on the market to easily decrypt, unlock, OCR, and convert to a Word doc. Unfortunately, converted PDFs strip formatting and create more problems than if you would have just sent a Word doc.
- Upfront work on behalf of the counterparty is required. Rather than asking for feedback, teams seek feedback about the counterparty and plug these into the contract before signature. This works fine for contracts that are rubber-stamped, but it's not practical. B2B contracts require feedback and negotiation.
The Future is DocJuris Arbiter
Everyone at a company is tasked with dealing with a contract in one way or another. For example, supply chain and sales teams send out NDA templates, SaaS agreements, and MSAs to secure a path forward. Inboxes have to be monitored. Redlines have to be reviewed. Deals have to be closed.
DocJuris reduces the number of initial redlines by 43% and ensures document integrity with the most powerful contract editor on the market. There are three key features that will leapfrog your current contracting workflows into a future of speed and accuracy.
Benefit 1: double the speed of internal feedback/approvals
At the outset, DocJuris Arbiter empowers teams with a collaborative and privileged workspace between business stakeholders, in-house counsel, and outside counsel. Each contract review can be co-authored with clause based granularity, and internal comments can be sorted and reviewed based on the user’s role in the negotiation. Our native Outlook and Power Automate integrations make it easy for teams to approve/reject.
Adding to the efficiency is a drafting pane that removes the noise and normalizes all formatting and styling in a doc. Today, attorneys and business users spend 36+ minutes per day fighting Microsoft Word.
To get started, author a contract or fire up a third party contract. Next, DocJuris’ best-in-class contract editor breaks silos with automated first pass review, prior precedent lookup, defined terms analysis, and more. Finally, invite your team to collaborate, and optionally bring in outside counsel to get the deal done.
The Result: lightning fast collaboration on your side of the table, perfectly drafted markups, and knowledge capture that scales.
Benefit 2: enrich counterparty review and reduce incoming redlines by 43%
Once a draft is ready for the other side, any business or legal user can kick off a simple counterparty workflow. Users can set deadlines and lock down specific sections of a contract, closing the gap between Word docs and PDFs.
Your counterparty receives an email with a link to open the contract and invite others. Comments can be added to locked sections, and DocJuris makes it easy to comment and return redlines, while also setting expectations early and often.
This means your counterparties spend less time focusing on things that are known blockers and more time getting to yes.
With Arbiter, your team will avoid shotty conversions, hidden changes, and handwritten modifications along the way.
The Result: no more delayed reviews, clunky PDF, or hardball negotiation tactics that don’t work.
Benefit 3: automated playbooks deliver instant analysis and discipline
Within seconds of returning the contract to your company, DocJuris instantly analyzes incoming changes and applies playbooks. Further, screening reports can be easily configured to deliver Excel based risk rating directly to email without manual intervention from legal or a contracts professional.
With DocJuris’ extensive integrations, returned contract feedback can fire off notifications and approvals without the pain of endless email chains and meetings. Second, a dynamic checklist and playbook with drafter’s notes, fallbacks, and deviation guidance is available to the business and in-house team in just a few clicks.
The Result: the time it takes to summarize a vendor redline analysis is reduced from 8 days to 2 minutes.
How it all comes together
We’re big proponents of streamlining the last mile of contracting — i.e., the redlining and negotiation process for signature. It’s where team have the biggest opportunity to achieve immediate value without the headaches of long implementations and complicated Word plugins.
If your company sends out supplier contracts, use DocJuris Arbiter today—it’s how your organization can spend less time clashing and more time closing.