[Updated 4 April 2018: I’m no longer an advisor to LexCheck (formerly Lit IQ), and the last time I did any work for them was in 2016.]
You know the 1950s movie Forbidden Planet. No? You should check it out—it’s an odd mix of retro camp and legit eeriness.
In any event, the plot of the movie involves—spoiler alert!—technology that’s a manifestation of one of the characters. That reminds me of my relationship to the contract-checking software LexCheck, although unlike the technology in Forbidden Planet, using LexCheck doesn’t involve any risk of destroying civilization.
I first mentioned LexCheck a year ago, by another name—Lit IQ, which is the name of the company that’s developing LexCheck. The founder is Gary Sangha, who previously founded Intelligize, the leading securities-research product. I’m an advisor to Lit IQ.
LexCheck will check any contract—a draft you’re working on, a draft you receive from the other side of a transaction—for internal consistency and clarity. LexCheck will do useful but unexciting stuff, like check that your cross-references are correct and spot defined terms that you created but didn’t use. But it also goes way beyond that, in that it incorporates the essence of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting and my blog posts.
I had wondered to what extent my guidelines would be embodied in the software. I’m pleased to say that it’s a complete match—hence the Forbidden Planet analogy. It’s a work in progress, but ultimately LexCheck will flag the full spectrum of problematic words and phrases that I’ve worried at over the years.
In part, the task of flagging problematic usages is relatively straightforward: you just instruct the software to look for specific words and phrases and offer error messages when they come up. But quickly things get subtle, which is why computational-linguistics boffins from the University of Pennsylvania are on the case. It’s been a pleasure working with them.
LexCheck will also provide training for those who want it, in the form of explanation of certain issues, with links to additional resources.
LexCheck is exceptional. Most comparable products check for internal consistency, but they’re limited to that. And nothing compares with LexCheck in terms of the expertise behind it. In particular, a leap of faith is required if you’re going to trust someone to advise you on contract-drafting usages. I like to think that I’ve earned that faith. I don’t think anyone else has.
It’s early days yet. For example, our website is under development. But we’ve started sales; if you’d like to subscribe, or you’d like a demo, contact Mike Cavolo of LexCheck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you accept that my guidelines are a rigorous alternative to the chaos and dysfunction of traditional contract drafting, I think you’ll find LexCheck a compelling extra line of defense.