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24 March, 2022 - 20:15 By Tony Quested

ThoughtRiver offers discounts to companies with Cambridge address

Legal tech pioneer ThoughtRiver uses AI to transform how contracts are reviewed, understood and agreed. In 2016 Tim Pullan, CEO and founder, packed his bags and moved from Singapore to Cambridge in search of the perfect place to build his startup. 

The goal? To use AI to disrupt the centuries-old legal market and help make every contract easily understood by anyone. 

The pioneering legal technology company has grown to serve clients including PwC, Singtel, and G4S, as well as law firms such as Taylor Vinters and Eversheds Sutherland, by building a product that helps organisations accelerate their contracting. 

Contracts make the world go around. They fuel commerce, support industries and protect us. But all too often the process of reviewing, negotiating, and signing them is plagued with costs and delays. For larger and smaller businesses alike, there are huge efficiency gains that AI can offer to help anybody understand a complex legal document – helping reduce risk, free up time, and increase the speed with which deals are done. 

In larger organisations, the lawyer responsible for reviewing a contract and coordinating the response is juggling a million-and-one things and waiting for information from all sides. 

Meanwhile, their colleague who is waiting to do the deal feels like they’re watching the days tick by with no insight into how the review is progressing. For smaller companies without a legal team, it is either down to the business owner or a senior member of the business to do the review. 

This is a time-consuming and potentially risky thing to undertake with no legal training. Or it is outsourced to external lawyers, an expense that quickly mounts up as redlined contract versions are shared back and forth. 
In both cases, there are two major concerns that hold up the deal. Firstly, the time it takes to read and understand the contract. 

Reviewing pages of dense legalese, understanding the meaning of each clause, and then finding any issues that need raising with the counter-party is time-consuming work that requires specific expertise.

Secondly, coordinating a response when it requires input from multiple stakeholders, and all the email and phone back-and-forth and chasing that requires. 

Addressing these two concerns is where ThoughtRiver’s AI comes into play. By using a mixture of Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), developed in conjunction with Cambridge University, the ThoughtRiver platform can ‘read’ a contract and the legal obligations it contains.

It then produces an issues list of potential risks, alongside plain language advice and suggested alternative wording. As for coordinating a response? It is made much easier when you can share a report of issues with colleagues for feedback, and then with the other side so they can send you a second version.

At the end of 2021, ThoughtRiver announced a new, affordable solution for reviewing and negotiating Non-Disclosure Agreements – Purely NDA, designed to be used by legal and non-legal users alike. 

NDAs are a problem for every business in the world and ThoughtRiver wants to eradicate the delays that they cause. Given its close links to the city, ThoughtRiver is offering a discount to any organisation with a Cambridge office. 

Pullan says: “Cambridge has provided us with a pool of incredibly talented staff, committed supporters and investors, and a strong local customer base.

“We want to support other local businesses by offering them an affordable way to speed up contract reviews and get on with what they do best: helping to make Cambridge a vibrant and entrepreneurial place to live.”

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