For anyone who contends with contracting – negotiating contracts, writing them, enforcing them, organising them, or anything else – Elevate has a new white paper, “The Evolution of Contracting,” that takes a deep and thoughtful look at the topic. Accompanying the white paper is a new episode of the Elevate.Together.Podcast. with an interview of the paper’s authors conducted by Elevate VP of Get Sh*t Done Stephen Allen.

The paper was co-written by Elevate’s Rob Couch and Dr. Roger Strathausen. Rob is a managing director of Consulting, focused on the contracting and CLM practice at Elevate.; Dr. Strathausen is a business consultant and acting Vice-Chair of the Supervisory Board of the Liquid Legal Institute, a non-profit association committed to promoting digitalisation in the legal industry.

This white paper incorporates a wide range of thought leadership material focused on contract lifecycle management (CLM) trends, why contract, how to contract, and who owns the contract. The paper opens with a brief overview of the history of contracting and how it evolved from handshakes to complicated legal documents. It notes that while today contracting is often considered a legal activity, it is, at its core, a business activity.

In both the paper and the podcast, Rob and Dr. Strathausen first examine the four constituents of contracting, technology, process, content and people, and then the four generations of contracting technology. They detail how each generation of contract management solutions reflects the technological possibilities existing when that particular generation emerged. A key point is that the capabilities of technology at any given moment have a profound influence on the capabilities of a particular generation of CLM. That leads to the exciting potential of artificial intelligence (AI) for the contracting process and CLM.

The authors emphasise that AI is going to profoundly change the rules related to how contracting is conducted. This is because technology is becoming capable of conducting processes that previously had been the exclusive domain of legal professionals with the education to understand how to do negotiations, identify language that can replace other language, and so on. AI-infused CLM can suggest to business people things like negotiating positions and preferred language, allowing them to operate within the bounds set up by legal professionals. Lawyers will remain responsible for constructing contractual content related to the business terms at issue, but AI-powered technology will serve as a powerful adjunct to that activity.

For general counsels, lawyers who handle contracts, procurement professionals, and businesspeople, the white paper and podcast provide a wealth of insight into understanding the evolution of contracting and the key issues that will affect contracting and CLM in the near- and long term.