ThoughtRiver found there was 330,000 ways to express a single statement across 1.4 million documents using legalese language

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Understanding “legalese” language is often a nightmare when scrawling through detailed contracts – but a technology company has developed new AI-powered software that it says will save millions of working hours every year by creating a standardised approach.

ThoughtRiver has publicly released Lexible, which acts as a dictionary of reference terms expressed as simple, universal legal questions crafted by a team of lawyers.

It claims that by digitising the analogue contract, it provides a clear picture of the details of any contract, combining machine learning with human legal intelligence to produce recommendations in plain English that anyone can understand.

ThoughtRiver founder Tim Pullan said: “Currently, the whole of a contract needs to be reviewed by a human lawyer because they simply don’t know what it says without reading it – there’s so much variance.

“Because contracts often run to hundreds of pages, you can easily see how hundreds of millions of hours of lawyers’ time are wasted every single year.

“We’ve developed Lexible to save that time and immeasurably improve the entire contracting process.

“The AI technology will summarise every variation using the same set of data points, which translates into massive time savings.”


Huge variation of legalese language in contracts

As part of Lexible’s development, ThoughtRiver data scientists conducted research on 1.4 million documents that found lawyers had come up with 330,000 different ways of wording the “governing law clause” – a short paragraph inserted in most contracts.

It says the tech represents more than 200,000 hours of expert analysis across four million legal documents.

ThoughtRiver Lexible, legalese language
ThoughtRiver’s Lexible software uses AI to create standardised language that makes it easier to read contracts (Facebook/ThoughtRiver)

The software package includes Lexible Studio, a toolkit that enables companies to adapt Lexible to their specific needs.

Mr Pullan added: “The universal design of Lexible is its true power, with the potential to become the standard contract description language.

“Ultimately, this will help people and businesses understand the complex agreements they are frequently asked to enter into.”


Law firms using Lexible to cut down contract review times

London law firm Taylor Vinters has been one of the first businesses to adopt the tech and claims it has already helped the way lawyers work, as well as enabling non-lawyers to understand contracts they’re signing.

CEO Matt Meyer said: “The launch of Lexible represents a true shift in the way contracts are read and interpreted – a fresh approach.

“We’re most interested in how we can change the game with new products that solve problems which the legal industry couldn’t previously effectively address.

“By combining machine learning with human legal intelligence, ThoughtRiver has created a solution which drives consistency and removes bottlenecks, giving corporate legal users an alternative and freeing up experienced lawyers to pick up higher value parts of the process.

“It’s also creating valuable data for clients, which is the future of predictive legal services.”

Joe Stephenson is a partner at UK-wide Shoosmiths, heading up the law firm’s commercial contract review and negotiation service Spotlight.

He has worked closely with ThoughtRiver to embed the AI into his company’s operation and said it has enhanced the speed and precision of its contract reviews.

“We’ll be imminently launching a new service – Spotlight AI – enabling our clients direct access to the Spotlight ‘AI brain’ we’ve created to carry out their own commercial contract reviews, saving three to four hours of review time per contract,” he added.

“The launch of Lexible and the Lexible Studio will further enhance our proposition, allowing us to constantly customise our AI brain to identify issues that are most important to our clients and keep pace with evolving market practice.”