What is pre-screening?
Pre-screen, meaning ‘to select, review, and decide’ is a modern word that describes a familiar activity.
In an ideal world, the General Counsel has a team of assistants pre-screening incoming contract flow for them, selecting only the issues most worthy of the GC’s attention. This gives the GC time and space to apply their legal expertise and synthesise strategic advice for the business.
However, here in the real-world budgets are always tightening and legal teams are shrinking, while contract flow has increased (something has got to give). GCs simply have to perform the contract pre-screening as well as their real work. Many hours are spent by GCs performing a first review of contracts that are in fact not risky, wasting both their time and the firm’s money.
As a result, the GCs’ role has become reactive rather than proactive and their jobs have become frustrating and bogged down by tasks far below their capabilities.
‘AI’ contract review technology has to-date focussed on providing intelligent document search and extraction capabilities for lawyers to help save time on large due diligence and other retrospective projects.
Pre-screening on the other hand is designed to automate the day to day routing and prioritisation decisions in large and busy corporate legal functions and is emerging as a sophisticated and technically demanding advance – and new category – in legal process automation technology.
Pre-screening technology comprises a legal Q&A and risk analysis process undertaken at an unprecedented level of detail and precision. Whilst the typical due diligence exercise involves assembling clauses on a handful of issues which then need to be considered by a lawyer, each contract pre-screen undertaken by ThoughtRiver triggers 1000s of software-answered questions on each contract in order to replicate what actually happens when a junior lawyer or paralegal conducts an initial scan on a contract. Pre-screening then rolls up the answers in order to deliver a single final context-sensitive recommendation about whether a contract needs further review and by who. Importantly, pre-screening also explains why it has made that decision in human terms business people and lawyers will understand.