LegalSifter: Another Service that Aims to Tell You What’s in Your Contracts

Via this post on Profit and Laws, I learned about LegalSifter.

LegalSifter’s website offers very little information. More informative is this piece on TechCrunch:

Using natural language processing, the service scans your documents (in Word format only, for now) and assigns them a score based on how favorable the terms are for the user. It also provides users with an explanation of the clauses and provisions in the document and suggests potential changes to provisions that are probably not in the user’s best interest.

Also:

Currently, the service works best for the kind of consulting contracts that designers and developers typically use, so the score the company assigns is most relevant for those types of documents. While LegalSifter is starting with this focus, though, it plans to expand to other areas as well.

LegalSifter aims to help small businesses working on deals where it wouldn’t make sense to get a lawyer involved. I’m inclined to file it under “better than nothing.”

I’m not a fan of contracts that offer the full verbiage accompanied by a quick and easy-to-read summary. In effect, you’re saying the same thing twice in two different ways, and that can lead to grief. For the same reason, the explanation LegalSifter offers can’t be the exact equivalent of the contract itself.

Ultimately, what I find most interesting about LegalSifter is that it’s yet another example of a service using technology to explore contract content. That’s becoming almost commonplace.

But I found the following sentence from the TechCrunch article rather poignant:

The LegalSifter team worked with a lawyer to ensure that all of the information it provides is correct.

Ah, a lawyer! Well, that means everything is sure to be top-notch, given that lawyers have done such a swell job with contracts generally.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.