Programming is in Cai GoGwilt’s blood. So when he developed the technology behind Ironclad’s AI-powered contracting solution, it felt like a full circle.
“I was fortunate to be exposed to technology very early,” GoGwilt said. “My grandfather was a programmer before it was cool.”
From creating games on TI-83 graphing calculators to programming computers as a kid, GoGwilt knew technology had the power to change lives, either by bringing joy or by creating efficient data processing. GoGwilt went on to study computer science and physics at MIT, where he also played cello in the university symphony orchestra. Soon he joined Palantir as a software engineer, where he worked in-depth with governments and large institutions.
“I was particularly interested in the mission of bringing software to intelligence analysts,” GoGwilt said. “And got interested in legal technology because it’s an area where people could be helped a lot by adopting collaboration tooling.”
GoGwilt met Jason Boehmig, who was working as a lawyer at Fenwick & West LLP, at a legal tech seminar. Together, they built Ironclad, with the vision of modernizing contracting, which has long been difficult, time-consuming, and messy. Their solution? Digital contracting.
“Contracts are hard because they’re an inherently human thing,” he said. “There's no good software for negotiating or collaborating on a contract.”
Also, as it turns out, lawyers are very similar to software engineers.
“I think they think and approach problems very similarly,” GoGwilt said. “For example, the way that lawyers design contracts [is] very similar to the way that engineers think through code. We’re both constantly thinking about edge cases, about what could go wrong, and how we’re going to deal with those things. We’re thinking a lot about how to make something so elegant that it catches a lot of the wrong stuff that I can anticipate today and hopefully even some of the wrong stuff that I can’t foresee.”
Ironclad has certainly created “something elegant” by changing contracting from a manual and disjointed black-box to streamlined and integrated data pipelines.
Ironclad began developing its AI solution, among other capabilities, by using Google’s Kubernetes engine when it was still named Google Container Engine. As they continued to build their stack using Google products, they branched into Google AI.
It was a smart move at the right time—just as the pandemic sent everyone scrambling.
“A lot of companies are reevaluating their agreements and trying to figure out where they have commitments and where opportunities for the business are,” he said. “And being able to immediately auto-extract the terms of agreements is becoming critical.”
Identifying gaps in the business and speed up decision-making is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have.
“Especially in the pandemic, having fast access to this kind of contract data has been critical to our customer base, including those in the healthcare industry who are on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic and those in the restaurant and transportation industries,” GoGwilt said.
GoGwilt is also mindful of the human element as both the problem and the solution.
“AI has great applications in terms of being able to accelerate understanding and extraction of information,” GoGwilt said. “But with that comes some risk of misunderstanding the information or lack of accuracy.”
So, Ironclad pairs best-in-class AI with deep domain expertise about contracts, along with empathy for the end-user, to address such challenges.
With their latest tool, Smart Import, “alpha users have been able to speed up contract upload by 50% and get three times as much contract data.”
So what’s next?
“We want to power the world’s contracts,” GoGwilt said. “That’s our mission.”
Join C2C for a Navigator conversation on March 16 with GoGwilt and learn about how they’re using AI to power the world’s contracts and improve efficiencies.
IronClad and GoGwilt will also be sharing the latest advances in contracting at their flagship summit, State of Digital Contracting, on March 25.