Using Summize for Contract Creation & Review – University of Bristol Case Study
In April 2021, the University of Bristol decided to take on Summize to improve and accelerate the review and creation of research contracts.
• Summize’s Microsoft Word Add-In meant that The University of Bristol didn’t have to uproot or change their preferred working habits.
• By empowering the individual user, Summize provides guidance and access to resources that help to speed up contract reviews.
• The Health Checks provided in the Microsoft Word Add-In are helpful when closing off a long project.
• The University of Bristol intends to use Summize to build a risk profile for a specific department using the reporting function to track indemnities.
About University of Bristol
The University of Bristol is a historic British university, known for its cutting-edge global research.
Recognised for innovation, it’s no surprise that the university also wanted to innovate its internal departments and make them more efficient. So, their Research and Enterprise Team turned to Summize.
To find out how Summize has helped, we spoke to The University of Bristol’s Head of Research Contracts, Tom Morgan. As part of his role, for any project undertaken at the university, he is responsible for all the associated contracts. His team of around 20 members of staff face daily challenges in dealing with a very diverse range of contracts, and it can be difficult to create and review these manually.
During Tom’s time at the university, he has transformed the way they interact with contracts. He found that although there seems to be tech available to help with everything, it is difficult to find solutions that encompass more bespoke tasks.
What Are the Types of Contracts You Encounter Day-To-Day?
The University has a wide range of departments, so my job covers research collaboration from any department. Including, but not limited to, social sciences, medical research, animal research, aerospace, technology, and history. My priority with every contract is to protect the university but also the academics.
Each type of contract and industry differs in processes and engagement. With an aerospace project, for example, they will usually be very comfortable with signing contracts. However, an artist may be a lot more nervous about it as they might never have seen a contract before or they have some reservations around their IP.
Of the contracts I see, 75% are repeated because of the nature of the work. They might be studentships, NDAs, or routine agreements. We’ll also have some agreements relating to deals where you’ll know exactly what’s in it and you’ll what you are looking for.
How Are You Utilising Summize?
Summize is great for our agreements, even if they are bespoke. We have some agreements that aren’t routine, but now I always know what’s in them.
Summize has been fantastic for making our contractual processes quicker and easier. We always use the MS Word Add-In on those annoying contracts that can be automated.
Why Is Summize Different?
Summize augments the individual by providing them with a little bit of guidance and access to resources, like their playbooks, which then help with the review of each contract. Summize knows that the individual is still important and doesn’t try and replace them.
The ease of use and the integration into Office 365 particularly stuck out to me.
Did You Look at Any Other Solution?
Loads! We probably saw every other solution available, and we also have a lot of existing technology to assist our team.
With tech for lawyers, there are so many products that claim to help you with contracts. For example, some of them will say “we’ll redline all of your contracts automatically”. But I hadn’t seen one that did what they said until I signed up with Summize.
How Has Summize Helped With Your Unique Projects?
I was working on a project for a company that wanted to utilise The University of Bristol’s large animal research hospital to carry out some new research. Only a few universities have the capabilities for this type of research, so it was incredibly unique. The negotiation was drawn out and complex – it was a tricky contract.
With this type of research, there are all sorts of factors. For example, you must have many different licences due to the regulations put in place on this type of research. You need a project licence and individual licences, and the Home Office can come in to audit it at any point. This made the contract very complicated and multiple rounds of amendments had been made by the time we had agreed on terms – only one problem remained…tidying up the document!
Summize was incredibly useful for this. I used the health checks you can use in the MS Word Add-In at the end of the project to check all my definitions. If a definition is used incorrectly a clause, will flag it, making it quick and easy to rectify.
On this project, it was important at the end of the 18-months to have everything correct. If it wasn’t and the Home Office came into audit the project, the consequences could have been huge.
How Will You Use Summize in the Future?
We use the MS Word Add-In regularly to run day-to-day contract reviews and plan to expand our use on the web application too.
We are currently trialling Summize for a certain research group at the University that does a lot of work with industry. We talk to them about the risk for each contract, but until Summize we didn’t have a way to show them the overall cumulative risk profile of all contracts. We’ve put all their contracts through the web app and are now reporting back to them on their contracts. We’ve been able to tell them all the contracts that were signed over the past year and how many indemnities were accepted. Then we’re going to build a risk profile using that information.