Why are contracts so hard to read? A Legal Technologist Answers – Artificial Lawyer | Media Pyro


Contracts are hard to read, not only because the ideas inside are so hard to understand, but because of the way lawyers write them, MIT scientists have said – see the latest news. But what is this, and is there a solution? Matt GoffHead of Digital Services at Ashurst Advance Digital, explores the key issues and suggests some solutions.

Legal documents such as contracts and online service agreements are considered complex, difficult to read and highly technical, and often lack universal standards for English clauses and wording. Why hasn’t this changed?

Adjust to sector:

Some practice areas use language as complex as the client’s business terminology, which can also be vague; Difficult bank notes come with difficult words and concepts.


Risk management does not eliminate legal jargon or difficult-to-understand concepts; however, we live in a legal environment, lawyers need to know that the contract provides their clients with ironclad and standard terms that leave no room for doubt, no matter how dark. Once the standards are established, there is no need to change them.

Modeling is good, but it has its enemies:

When the words, clauses and principles of the standard section are defined, they are like a dictionary and are included in the standard models. Each industry has its own models.

Non-standard challenges:

Another challenge is that lawyers will create variations of a project, reuse an old document, and then tweak it for each new case. Also, lawyers must sometimes use client standards models, and lawyers must adhere to a fixed standard or best practice, or change their lines in order to comply with the law.


The biggest challenge is that lawyers still have some analog instincts.

Legal documents do not provide structural data as a standard. Customers need to understand the impact of their documents in a two-way way. There is little documentation provided in the digital service package that allows the client to transport that data; when documents are closed, it becomes more difficult to assess the risk and impact of documents over time. Access to the data is free when you need to update the documents.

Buyer and Terms:

The services and products are more familiar, and legal contracts are forthcoming. In consumer online T&Cs, there are many business-related issues, including data protection, privacy, and service contracts. Technology has outpaced consumer awareness, so user service contracts are filled with technical and legal jargon that few consumers understand.

What legal technology tools are there for writing legal documents?

Microsoft Word is still the primary tool for writing legal documents. Thankfully, lawyers can easily collaborate on documents through Teams, which has quickly become a popular tool among law firms and clients. Great for collaborating on DD reports. The Microsoft stack is one to watch; Power App/Power Automate are tools from Microsoft that offer powerful thinking.

There are many other AI legal technology providers that create Word add-ins. In particular, if lawyers are writing using standard client documents, tools that call for clause substitutions from the library will be useful. These tools can help when updating documents to a new standard, less filling the law, because the new and improved clause will be marked.

When drafting legal documents/clauses, AI tools like Kira AI are also helpful for businesses to prepare a wide range of clauses, allowing the lawyer to select the clearest and most appropriate replacement clauses. . Managing documents in the system quickly reveals all the clauses in use and helps establish the industry’s gold standard clause.

Combining document automation with online collaboration platforms and AI tools is a powerful solution for many automated writing situations. Writing articles is one such aspect. The integration of technology can also involve people in a part of the process, by ensuring that tasks are allocated to the right people or to participate in playbooks.

What legal technology can learn from other services, and how AI can be integrated into the law in the future.

In general, businesses are becoming more proactive in their digital journey:

As businesses move into an increasingly digital environment, the legal sector must adapt to keep up. Ashurst is approaching the legal challenge with a legal advice and standards writing course, which includes legal contracts and other documents. This project has been led by industry experts, including linguists and designers, to ensure that consumers receive clear and concise information according to their needs.

Some of the challenges that users of legal documents complain about can be addressed using the principles of design thinking and service design. Before implementing automation, it is important to rethink the design process; This means a change in thinking about where automation is possible and a critical approach to private contracts.

Make documents easier to consume by automating them. It may include an automatic contract, with a data overview page, and a page with key points that indicate what the contract covers and the effect.

Let’s embrace digitization and allow clients to access text and live data across platforms and take their data and take it with them – by delivering insights that connect to issues by article code or reference.

With Rule 2.0 (or whatever we call it), consumers will drive the industry-wide standard, or defined category, with absolute consistency. The similarities here are open pockets. We continue to see comparisons in funding and projects like DCM FLOW. Clients determine their needs and their data with a law firm that is directly connected and augments their data as matters progress.

This structure eliminates the dark data problem and the potential need for AI contract review tools as they stand. It is better to quickly scan the document and the data according to the desired pattern. Legal intelligence can change with AI models created by lawyers and legal technologists to integrate into their technology or data warehouse.

In the legal sector, look to cognitive graphs and other AI and semantic technologies to push the envelope in automated assessments and outcomes. The legal market has moved away from looking at just legal technology, and is looking to the big tech companies to see what they have to offer.

The Consumer Market

There are more challenges than simple contracts to read:

As a solution to these challenges, we turn to more comprehensive AI solutions. Governments should consider investing in this technology to support citizens in navigating complex legal issues. Establishing this technology will encourage the democratization of access to legal services, and more cost of the legal system.

It’s a matter of more than grammar and vocabulary

The technology and its effects are very difficult for the average user to understand, and general explanations do not help the consumer to understand the advantages and disadvantages. At a basic level, most consumers do not understand the effects of cookies. And even if they understand the impact of data laws, some businesses don’t comply.

A digital trust must be established, which shows that a business is fully compliant with laws and regulations, especially with users’ rights to control their data and ease of handling between platforms. all. It seems like the best way for citizens to store and manage their data in a central location and deny access from there.

[ This is an educational guest post for Artificial Lawyer by Matt Goff at Ashurst Advance Digital, which is within international law firm Ashurst. ]


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