A Perspective from Clearlaw Chief Revenue Officer Brendan Raybuck
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brendan Raybuck, and I am the Chief Revenue Officer at Clearlaw, an AI provider of Contracting Intelligence. I am a relatively new person to the LegalTech space, having spent roughly 15 years in the digital marketing technology space as a consultant, sales rep, project manager, and services executive.
Despite this blog being on the future of the Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) space, I am not trying to convince any of you that I am some sort of expert on this industry. I am not an attorney, and I never went to law school (although I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night). That said, I was part of the Marketing Technology Industry as it went through a major transformational moment, and I believe that we are at a similar inflection point within LegalTech.
Allow me to set some context.
The year was 2008. I was recently out of college and in my first job at a growing Digital Agency (shout out to Acquity Group Alumni). Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was the beginning of a transformational moment in Marketing Technology. The industry was dominated by several large technology vendors who had owned the marketplace for years. They were some of the first vendors to commercialize enterprise-grade marketing technology that empowered organizations to send email campaigns, manage their websites, and open E-commerce footprints.
Yet, the industry thought it could do better. A series of new, often Venture-backed, vendors flooded into the marketplace. These new technologies provided new clean interfaces to empower marketers. They built their tools on modern web frameworks, making them easier for technologists to develop with. Some of these vendors became the new dominant vendors in this space, including Day Software, Sitecore, Demandware, and Hybris. Several of these firms were acquired by larger enterprises, further accelerating their market dominance.
While there were many winners during this transformational moment, there were also vendors, both new and old, that struggled.
As I was thinking about the future of our organization, I found myself asking what determined the winners and losers within this industry. As I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that the real game changer in marketing technology wasn’t that they had a better UI or were faster to develop with. That certainly helps but those improvements were iterative, not transformational. The real innovation was that they put data first.
Take the biggest winner from this period in Marketing Technology, Adobe. Adobe acquired Omniture, which was (and still is in its evolved form) a digital analytics and personalization technology. They combined this with Day Software (among other tools), merging the ability to manage the customer experience with the ability to leverage data and insights. To me, this was the transformational moment in Marketing Technology. Like Adobe, the majority of the winners from this period embraced this change and put data at the forefront of the marketer’s experience.
The data became so critically important that when I was a salesperson and executive in this industry, it was often foundational to my client facing pitch. During one of these moments, I showed a clip from the Emmy winner TV series, Mad Men, where Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, performed one of his brilliant marketing speeches. I would then ask the audience how many of them had seen a pitch like this in real life. Very few hands went up in the room.
As I switched over to the next slide on my PowerPoint, I would show the homepage of Google Analytics and I asked how many people knew what this was. Every hand in the room went up. Data had fundamentally changed the marketer.
The Experience Management landscape has continued to evolve with data at its forefront. Today, with the setup of just a few simple rules, multichannel experiences dynamically change to personalize the content to any end-user, evolving the experience during every interaction, device, and touchpoint. Automation allows this to be done at scale, making nearly every person’s experience uniquely tailored to who they are.
Now, what does this mean for LegalTech and the CLM space? I believe that this industry looks remarkably like the Marketing Technology space of 15 years ago.
There are major vendors that have dominated the marketplace for a long time and a significant amount of money has poured into space. Just like in Marketing Technology, these new vendors are emerging with cleaner interfaces and are supported by modern technology frameworks. However, I view these changes as iterative, not transformational.
The big transformational moment is the data. With the emergence of LLMs, AI tools, and NLP frameworks, the data trapped within legal documents is beginning to unlock. We are nearing a moment where lawyers will no longer have to read most contracts to understand what is in them. AI will simply tell them.
I have been asked the logical question then, if AI will read contracts, then what does that mean for lawyers? I look to marketing technology for guidance on where this is going.
Just as a single marketer can set up unique personalized digital experiences at scale, so too will the General Counsel orchestrate global changes through data-empower insights and rules. Like the marketing function, data will change the nature of day-to-day corporate legal work.
Step into a time machine with me, going 5 years in the future, and imagine a new GC at a SaaS software company, using the latest in Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) and AI Contract Intelligence tools like Clearlaw.
This new GC will open the CLM and review the Legal Playbook and negotiation tactics already in place. This new GC will make alterations, based on their experience and in alignment with the executive team’s goals. Instantaneously, all future sales contracts are updated with the new language and the new GC generates a full report on all contracts that are now out of compliance with the updates. This analysis will happen within seconds across thousands of documents within the CLM repository. Through the same interface, the GC orchestrates updates to this language upon each client’s renewal, in alignment with the notification timeframe and in compliance with each client's existing contract. Separately, each new contract is automatically redlined based on these new rules.
These changes won’t stop with the GC’s Office. Contracts are filled with data that empower the rest of the business, including sales, human resources, account management, and accounting. In this future, the impact of these changes will flow from the CLM tool into the preferred technology of each corporate business function, such as a CRM tool like Salesforce. In this future world, the Chief Revenue Officer will see how these changes affect renewable revenue forecasts, HR will see the impact on hiring and staffing plans, and accounting will automatically update billing, all based on contractual data. Contract data will empower the entire business.
The result will be a major shift in the way corporate GCs will function, but the job won't go away. It will be elevated. As repeatable tasks become automated, the role of the General Counsel transforms into a strategic business partner, embedding legal leadership into every corporate business function in a way that both adds value and accelerates business processes.
This can only be done with tools that can both accurately and comprehensively extract, analyze, and normalize data from legal documents that can come in thousands of shapes and sizes.
This is Clearlaw’s goal. Our AI tool seeks to provide a detailed understanding of the hundreds and thousands of data points that exist within legal documents and contracts. We believe that data will become the foundation on which the CLM space transforms, much as data did so in Marketing Technology. In conjunction with our CLM partners, we hope to empower this transformational moment in LegalTech.