Kelley Rating (one asterisk = lowest, five asterisks = highest):
- Ease of navigation, design of interface and learning curve ****
- Instructional documentation and help system ***
- Carries out the goal of the product as advertised *****
- Overall usefulness *****
ContractExpress by Business Integrity is a client draft generator enabling you to rapidly and accurately draft client documents or revise, compare and update documents as negotiations proceed. As a document assembly system, it may enable you to save time and increase accuracy. It combines document assembly with workflows and contract management. Answering a questionnaire built by this facility from a document template can generate a complete set of documents, including schedules and attachments.
ContractExpress 5 is a web-based document automation solution designed for fast and accurate document drafting and client collaboration, with particular utility for small or medium firms. Videos with an overview of ContractExpress 5 and previews of its features and benefits are available at ContractExpress 5 Resources.
The publisher also furnishes products that operate as part of Contract Express as Word add-ins, called ContractExpress Author and the ContractExpress Drafter, to assist in preparing templates and comparing and editing documents during negotiation. The publisher asserts that ContractExpress Author enables firms to quickly automate even the most complex legal documents without the involvement of IT specialists. The documents you produce are from templates based on your own inventory of contracts. A Getting Started Manual is available at ContractExpress 5 Resources that walks you through setting Contract Express Author and publishing a template. It also discusses the key concepts of template automation.
The publisher uses document preparation in Word to increase the efficiency and accuracy of contract generation. The publisher’s products include a built-in review with different parts of the template being used available for review.
The interface in ContractExpress 5 was designed to work on mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets, with the features adapting to the screen size available.
Business Integrity also furnishes a solution that integrates their contract creation and document assembly engine into the Microsoft SharePoint platform and enables law firms and corporations to deliver collaborative contract creation and drafting solutions to their clients or business users.
What’s It All About?
The ContractExpress products enable lawyers to automate templates (including construction of templates with your own language), model documents, precedents and forms. Automated templates are created in Microsoft Word, using an intuitive plain-language mark-up.
The publisher maintains that these products help firms retain and gather clients through a shared client site. You may share templates and review documents created by the client in a customized, branded environment, where you control what the client has access to. You may customize ContractExpress 5 according to your own branding and create unlimited branded client sites.
The ContractExpress products automatically produce web-based questionnaire forms for each template with navigational web screens that offer progress information, alerts and on-page guidance. The publisher states that dependencies between questions on the same page of the questionnaire are automatically created and derived from the natural structure of the underlying template to speed up the automation of complex document sets that traditional systems can’t manage.
A Preview Mode is available to allow users to see updates as they are made in real-time. Changes that you make in the questionnaire are associated with their effects in the document.
How it Works
Contract preparation in ContractExpress 5 is initiated by a questionnaire, which takes you through the elements of the contract. The user may edit this questionnaire. You may complete the questionnaire or browse it. The example template showcases the extensive customization permitted by ContractExpress. For example, the preparation of a confidentiality agreement as permitted on the publisher’s website at Test-Drive would proceed through the questionnaire in the following steps:
- Preliminary questions for the contract Structure, including dating and information as to the parties to the contract.
- Parties designation, including names and descriptions of the first and second parties, whether individuals or business entities.
- Purpose of the contract, whether the parties are entering into a single transaction or an ongoing relationship.
- Confidentiality Provisions, covering what constitutes confidential information, disclosure procedures, definition of confidential information, maintaining confidentiality and permitted disclosure and other elements of privilege and disclosure.
- Notices with delivery and notice information.
- Dispute Resolution provisions governing jurisdiction and arbitration.
- Signatures by individuals or entities.
The output then appears as a Word document with cross-references to sections and attachments reflecting the numbering of the template.
As a customer, you first register for access to the Contract Express website. The actual preparation of a contract document then takes place through the following procedure:
The foundational activity by which you create templates from your own documents is performed by ContractExpress Author, which you download and run as a Word add-in. It creates a ribbon in Word at Add-Ins that provides the tools for you to automate any document. The template you create is then uploaded to ContractExpress 5, which automatically generates the questionnaire for that template.
A screen will appear with headings for My Documents, Recent Documents, Shared with Me, Templates and your name. (You can follow this process with ContractExpress 5 Resources videos.) When you click on Templates, you’re given the option to Upload Template. Clicking on this button allows you to search for and upload a designated template (say “Non Disclosure Agreement”). The uploaded template then appears in a list. Clicking on the name of the template brings up a screen with the template version number and other information about it. Clicking on the version number of the template opens a screen from which you may test the template through a series of question screens. On this screen, clicking “Preview” allows you to follow the effect of answering questions on the text of the contract, which appears in a right hand pane with the questions displayed in a left hand pane. You then return to the Templates screen, which shows the Template Name and modification details. Clicking “Download Author” then installs the Microsoft Video Studio Tools. You may then return to “My Documents” and click on the contract name to view it in Word in its final form.
What About Help and Support?
The questionnaires include explanations of the questions and offer guides to the necessary answers. Document assembly and contract creation webinars are available. The publisher maintains a blog, called Contract Automation Clearinghouse, addressing document assembly, templates and other automation topics. The publisher also maintains a Knowledge Base and User Forum available to customers.
Where Do You Get This Facility?
You may request a demonstration at Request Demo, and a 28 day free trial is available.
The Contract Express products are available from Business Integrity through submitting their contact form at Contact Us Today or by phone in the U.S. at:
718-238-2008 (Brooklyn, NY) or 650-240-1260 (San Mateo, CA)
The list price for ContractExpress 5 is $195/user/month. As you increase the number of users, a discount is built in all the way up to a firm-wide license. For smaller firms and solo practitioners that can’t take advantage of scale, a discount is available by licensing the product for the year, instead of monthly, at $160/user/month if you sign up for the whole year.
ContractExpress 5 is an easy to operate, cloud-based facility for drafting contracts based on various templates.
Trusts & Estates magazine is pleased to present the monthly Technology Review by Donald H. Kelley—a respected connoisseur of the software and Internet resources wealth management advisors use to further their practices.
Kelley is a lawyer living in Highlands Ranch, Colo., and is of counsel to the law firm of Kelley, Scritsmier & Byrne, P.C. of North Platte, Neb. He is the co-author of the Intuitive Estate Planner Software, (Thomson – West 2004). He has served on the governing boards of the American Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section and the American College of Tax Counsel. He is a past regent and past chair of the Committee on Technology in the Practice of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.
Trusts & Estates has asked Kelley to provide his unvarnished opinions on the tech resources available in the practice today. His columns are edited for readability only. Send feedback and suggestions for articles directly to him at [email protected].