A Guide to Contract Redlining with PrizmDoc Editor
Today’s legal teams are increasingly turning to LegalTech applications that streamline routine tasks to make services more efficient. Although many developers have created powerful solutions that deploy the latest innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), they often still need to find the right software integrations to give legal professionals an alternative to potentially risky traditional practices such as contract redlining.
What Is Contract Redlining?
A longstanding practice in the legal profession, contract redlining involves marking up the text contents of a document during the preparation and negotiation process. In the days before electronic documents, these markups were done by hand. Each person leaving comments, identifying mistakes, or proposing changes used a different color pen to keep their edits distinct.
Modern word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs, support this collaborative approach to editing with their editing and comments tools. Each user is assigned a different color when they open the document to avoid confusion over who is leaving specific edits. When documents are shared securely and the changes applied properly, contract redlining features offer tremendous advantages to the drafting and negotiation processes.
Challenges with Contract Redlining
Unfortunately, this approach brings with it a number of potential problems that are inherent to the limitations of word processing applications.
Privacy is critically important when it comes to contract information, especially during the drafting and negotiation process. Conventional collaboration tools often do a poor job of safeguarding confidential data. Documents are typically shared with collaborators over public cloud platforms or sent as downloadable email attachments, both of which take the contract outside the control of a secure application environment. Email is particularly problematic because it is frequently targeted by cybercriminals seeking to obtain private information.
When collaborators have the ability to download documents to view and markup locally, there is a risk that other collaborators will never see their redlined edits. That’s because even if they do upload the document containing their changes, someone may mistakenly open the original version of the file rather than working from the new one. Although cloud platforms like Google Docs allow everyone to work from the same document online, all it takes is one person to download the contract as a local Microsoft Word file to create uncertainty over which version of the document is the correct one.
Document redlining tools are effective because they make it easy to identify comments and suggested changes. If someone doesn’t turn them on and makes changes directly to the document, however, it can be difficult to sort out what has been altered, especially if those changes aren’t noticed until much later in the editing or negotiation process.
Once the contract redlining process is completed, the changes still need to be applied to the final document. Depending on the extent of the markups, this could be a complicated process as someone sifts through many different comments to address them. This process is very prone to human error, especially when it involves inserting new clauses with very precise legal language.
Altering, adding, or removing text from a document can sometimes have drastic impacts on the formatting, especially if the document wasn’t assembled particularly well in the first place. As more contract redlines are applied, it can become challenging to identify which changes might potentially affect the layout of the document.
Contract Redlining with PrizmDoc Editor
Accusoft’s PrizmDoc Editor integration helps LegalTech applications facilitate contract redlining with powerful document assembly tools. Featuring viewing, suggesting, and editing controls as well as annotation support for making comments and tracking changes, PrizmDoc Editor uses a series of REST APIs to assist in automated contract creation.
PrizmDoc Editor allows collaborators to perform contract redlining completely within a secure application environment with no external software dependencies. There’s no need to download files and share them over another platform or email them to fellow collaborators. This helps to significantly reduce privacy risks as the document is not exposed to the public internet.
Just as keeping contracts within an application’s firewalls protects data privacy, it also allows project owners to control who has access to the document and what they can do with it. Some collaborators may only have viewing access, which prevents them from leaving comments or downloading the document to review on their own. Others may be permitted to leave suggested changes, but not actually implement them. Under these circumstances, no duplicate documents will be created, avoiding the problem of version control altogether.
Legal clauses frequently contain complex and very precise language. Even a single misspelling can result in scrivener’s errors that could invalidate entire sections of a contract. PrizmDoc Editor can be set up to quickly insert commonly used clauses directly into the document with just a single click, both streamlining the contract redlining process and greatly reducing the risk of manual error.
Programmatic Assembly and Search
Most of PrizmDoc Editor’s document assembly features are handled programmatically, which ensures that changes will be applied uniformly across the contract without breaking the existing formatting. The document owner can determine which changes to apply, which eliminates the risk of unauthorized or unnoticed changes being made during the contract redlining process. After the revised document is assembled, PrizmDoc Editor’s search and spellchecking functions can be applied to locate any areas of concern before the file is exported to its final format for printing or distribution.
Minimize Risk and Streamline Contract Creation with PrizmDoc Editor
As a versatile API integration, PrizmDoc Editor can be incorporated into any LegalTech application to facilitate automated document assembly and contract redlining. Its whitelabel customization features allow developers to deploy it seamlessly alongside AI-driven automation tools as part of a broader contract management solution.