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02 October 2023 ·

Legal tech & ethics: balancing AI assistance with professional responsibility


On the gridiron American football field, strategy and balance are paramount. Every run, pass, and touchdown is orchestrated with precise and prescient plays. Similarly – off the field and in corporate offices and boardrooms - contract managers juggle a similar balance. Instead of runs, passes, and touchdowns, it’s negotiations, signatures, and execution.

As artificial intelligence becomes more and more of a prerequisite in the world of contract management, how can professionals ensure their “scoring” the winning contracts they need ethically and efficiently? Let’s “watch the tapes” and figure out just where exactly contract artificial intelligence meets the professional responsibility of a contract manager.

Kick-off: AI’s growing role in contract management

Football has always embraced evolution, both in playstyles and rules. In a parallel fashion, contract lifecycle management is evolving with digital transformation - and contract intelligence is leading the charge.

Just as football teams use player stats to scout players, contract AI tools can scan, review, and highlight discrepancies in contracts faster than any human, ensuring the legal team’s interests are safeguarded. Contract auto-redlining automatically redlines imported contract documents and switches introduced clauses (which may be erroneous and less than preferential) with the tried-and-true clauses in an organization’s clause and template library that legal teams have optimized.

Contract AI can also provide detailed audit trails of all changes made by both internal parties and counterparties during contract negotiations. As such, legal teams can gain full oversight of the negotiations “game” and tweak tactics during a game.

Graphical dashboards and other reporting tools can grant visually engaging data at a glance on contract trends pertaining to financials, amounts, budgets, and performance. From there, it is the legal team “players’” responsibilities to make necessary changes to increase efficiency and revenue.

As you can see, all of these AI use cases still require the expertise, decision-making, and hands-on management of a contract management expert; they simply make processes more streamlined and less prone to error.

The midfield tussle: maintaining control

The midfield is where important in-game pressure is often won or lost, with players vying for control over the football game. Similarly, as contract artificial intelligence gains ground, contract managers face their own set of challenges to maintain control.

And yet -- as we all know – the vast amounts of data processed by AI raise the risk of data breaches. Counterparties’ personally identifiable information, payment card information, addresses, phone numbers, etc. -- all require stringent protection. Any team leveraging artificial intelligence should ensure that their solution complies with the foremost data protection regulations and policies.

Contract AI, if not correctly calibrated by human subject matter experts, can make error-prone, biased, or inaccurate predictions. Just as controversial offside calls can sway a football game, these errors can have significant repercussions. Contract managers must regularly ensure that the framework of a contract artificial intelligence solution matches their goals and is producing the desired results.

Although contract AI offers efficiency, we know the danger of sidelining human intuition and experience. A football team relying solely on data analytics without human strategy is guaranteed to fail. Snap decisions and game sense are paramount. Such is the case with a contract manager working with clients from a variety of industry verticals and with ranging needs.

Maintaining possession: strategies for ethical AI use

A football team that maintains possession controls the score of the game. Similarly, contract managers must 'maintain possession' of their ethical responsibilities while using AI:

  1. Training days: Regular workshops and training ensure contract managers understand contract AI's strengths and limitations, allowing managers to use the tool effectively without being wholly dependent. Additionally, trainings should serve to enrich contract managers with knowledge of their human role.
  2. Ethical playbook: Creating a set of guidelines for using contract artificial intelligence ensures that all decisions made are in line with the team’s values and ethical standards. Limits can be set per an organization’s strategy regarding when AI’s role ends and where a contract manager’s responsibilities recommence.
  3. Diverse squad selection: Integrating diverse perspectives in the contract intelligence development process can minimize biases and limitations. Like a diverse football team with varied skills, a holistic contract artificial intelligence implementation is more effective and balanced.

The referee’s whistle: role of regulatory bodies

Every football match is overseen by referees, who are meant to ensure fair play. When it comes to AI in contract management, regulatory bodies play this role as well.

Regulatory bodies can establish frameworks that define ethical boundaries for AI's use in contract management. Just as referees penalize foul plays, regulatory bodies should have mechanisms to review and penalize unethical AI practices, ensuring accountability. Football rules adapt over time based on the game's evolving nature. Similarly, regulatory guidelines on AI shall be dynamic, adapting to technological advancements and industry needs.

The championship vision: future of AI in contract management

The ultimate goal of every football team is to win championships. In the realm of contract management, the goal is to achieve seamless, efficient, and ethical operations.

Contract managers should work closely with AI developers and implementation specialists to ensure that the tools developed understand the nuances of the legal operations world and the ethical considerations that come with it. The next generation of contract managers should be introduced to AI early in their careers, much like budding football players in youth leagues. This virtually ensures future readiness and adaptability.

Just as virtually everyone on the football field maintains open communication, contract managers should maintain open dialogue with stakeholders to ensure transparency and trust.

Key takeaway

Football, in its essence, is a game of strategy, balance, and vision. Similarly, as AI becomes a dominant player in the world of contract management, the challenge is to ensure the game remains as beautiful off the pitch as it is on it. By harmonizing AI capabilities with unwavering professional responsibility, contract managers can ensure that they’re not just scoring goals but also winning championships ethically and responsibly.

Contract managers need to make sure that they have not just any contract AI solution, but one they can trust. So, book a free demo of an award-winning contract management solution built on a foundation of AI with machine learning today!


Sean Heck is an enthusiastic content marketer and writer who has authored many articles for CobbleStone Software - an industry leader in contract management, vendor management, eSourcing, and eProcurement software. He is experienced in content writing, SEO, social media, video content generation, and more. During his stint in journalism while in university, he authored eight published works including: interviews with high-profile musicians (such as Cypress Hill, the first Latino American hip-hop group to reach multi-platinum status) and comedians (Comedy Central’s Chris DiStefano, Roy Wood Jr., Ali Siddiq); studies (such as press coverage at Philadelphia’s City Hall during the release of DA Larry Krasner’s cash-bail policy); music reviews and artist profiles.


CobbleStone Software's enterprise CLM solution offers robust and AI-powered contract management software functionality to:

  • Securely store an unlimited amount of contracts within a contract repository. 
  • Create custom and ad-hoc contract management reports.
  • Simplify contract search with CobbleStone® QuickSearch.
  • Streamline CLM with intelligent contract workflow automation.
  • Increase visibility with contract management dashboards and calendars.
  • Track contract financials to control contract spend and manage contract budget.
  • Supercharge contract drafting with pre-approved templates and clauses.
  • Leverage AI-based contract data extraction, field mapping, and clause matching.
  • Enhance contract collaboration and contract redlining.
  • Expedite contract approvals and contract signing with integrated eSignature software.
  • And much more.

CobbleStone Contract Insight contract management software is highly configurable, flexible, and can easily scale with your evolving needs.

Sean Heck
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