How Everlaw’s Legal and Sales Teams Use Ironclad AI to Close Deals Faster
Our goal is to keep legal out of 95% of contracts, and Ironclad's AI-driven workflows, permission controls, and analytics help us get there.
As companies grow, their legal needs become increasingly complex, and they often struggle to manage contracts and other legal documents efficiently. This was the case for Oakland-based startup Everlaw, makers of ediscovery solutions that help law firms, investigators, and other agencies leverage cloud technology to review documents and prepare for legal proceedings.
When Catherine Choe joined the team as Senior Manager of Legal Operations (now Director of Legal Operations and Strategy) in late 2020, her first task was to talk to contract lifecycle management (CLM) vendors. As a legal tech company themselves, Everlaw knew firsthand how the right technology could drive efficiencies in their contracting process, and throughout the company. So they’d had an eye on the CLM space well before hiring Choe. But she knew that even then, automation wouldn’t help much until they’d ironed out their own processes. In fact, she held this conviction so deeply that she once walked out in the middle of a CLM pitch session that claimed otherwise.
You have to do your process homework! If your process is under control, you can have your [CLM] up and running in two weeks.
Making the Case for CLM
While Choe and Everlaw’s General Counsel (now Chief Legal Officer) Shana Simmons already had executive buy-in to spend money on a CLM solution, Choe knew she needed support from another key stakeholder group: the sales ops team. “They didn’t want anything that would risk data integrity or confuse the AEs,” Choe said. “They’d worked so hard to get to where they were at that point.”
When Choe joined Everlaw, their process for amending contracts was painstakingly inefficient. Sales would ask commercial counsel to fix a contract. Because CPQ writes Everlaw’s Order Forms in HTML then generates them in PDF, tools that convert PDFs to Word were ineffective. This meant that legal would have to copy and paste information into a Word Order Form template. The slow undertaking would inevitably get on the nerves of sales reps waiting to close their deals.
The fact that both sales and legal were super frustrated with each other was definitely a key factor that helped make the CLM rollout successful.
Another key was that both Choe and Simmons saw how automation could save them from needing to hire another in-house lawyer. “We were able to demonstrate that we were just spending too much time making these little changes to our contracts,” Choe said. Automation could reduce the manual labor necessary to the process, increasing capacity while forestalling the need to bring another commercial counsel onboard. Choe and Simmons had clear idea of what Everlaw’s process should be — they just needed to implement it.
After meeting with a short list of CLM vendors, Choe felt that Ironclad’s AI-powered functionalities would offer what her team needed, but she still wanted approval from one more stakeholder. Since Everlaw used Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) to run the rest of the business digitally–and because sales ops practically lives in it–Choe brought in her Salesforce administrator to meet with Ironclad reps.
At first hesitant to add to the burden of the sales teams and overcomplicate processes with two systems of records, the administrator came around once assured that the implementation wouldn’t disrupt current workflows and that sales reps–and legal–could search for signed contracts and sync Ironclad and Salesforce back and forth.
A One-Month Implementation
Choe knew getting the team started on the platform wouldn’t be without its challenges, so she leveled with her colleagues in sales right up front. “I didn’t lie to the sales team. I said, look, it’s not going to be perfect, because I don’t know every use case. But if you tell me what’s broken, I will fix it as fast as I can,” she said. Choe also emphasized the importance of having a dedicated point of contact on the other side of the rollout. “We had really great support from our Ironclad customer success manager,” she said. “He was really helpful in getting us started and answering all of our questions.”
Before long, Ironclad’s CLM was showing its worth.
Within a month we had people kind of secretly coming to us and saying, I love Ironclad.
Choe’s team is working on building out contracts that allow for minor changes on the fly, plus more major ones that require approval from finance or marketing but not review and re-processing by the legal department. This will let Everlaw’s sales reps concede minor bargaining points to customers to close deals without having to get the contracts rewritten. “Some of our sales people don’t ever have to talk to us,” she said with a laugh.
Shifting Focus: AI-Powered Sales Enablement
While the initial impetus for adopting CLM was to automate processes and save on headcount, Everlaw now sees Ironclad’s potential to drive faster sales, particularly with the use of Ironclad AI Playbooks, which are sets of customized standards and guidelines that teams can leverage to automatically insert approved terms and clauses without legal involvement. “We’re looking at putting more power in the hands of the sales directors,” Choe said.
If your sales director approves your terms, then you press the button and Ironclad will automatically populate that clause in the contract, and you can go on your merry way. Because why wait for [legal] to approve when you’re competing with deals that might be bigger than yours? We want to get business risk off our plates and into the hands of the sellers.
Automating medium risk deals like this not only stands to help keep legal’s head count down but also helps sales reps move faster. They don’t have to wait for bigger contracts to be approved before commercial counsel can get to their deals.
Of course, Ironclad did help Everlaw save on headcount as well. Choe said that when she joined the company in December 2020, the company had one and a half full-time employees devoted to contracts. Since then, Choe said, the contracting team has grown to two full-timers, while the sales team increased by about 2x.
I think it's kind of remarkable that we have increased the size of the sales team as much as we have, but there hasn't been a proportional increase in the size of the legal team supporting them. We’ve gotten a lot of efficiencies out of using Ironclad to the point where we’re able to stay small and lean.
Leaving Legacy Legal Behind
To hear Choe tell it, too many legal departments are falsely viewed as cost centers. “The legal department that I work in creates value for the company in everything that we do,” she explained. From supporting the go-to-market team to keeping the company from taking on unnecessary risk, legal is there to help companies grow and thrive. Too often, though, legal is seen only as the department that loves to say “No.”
With Ironclad, Catherine Choe and her team are instead the department that helps everyone else at Everlaw do more. Sales, in particular. “The days that I’m really happy are when an account executive will randomly ping me and say, Catherine, thank you for Ironclad. I love it so much. It makes me go faster,” she said.