Define the relationship: The art and science of contracts

In business, contracts are everything, containing expectations and parameters for every relationship. But for busy companies without enough legal coverage or capacity to review, negotiate, and manage contracts they run the risk of, well, risks.

Ronak Ray, CEO and Founder of modCounsel saw the glaring opportunity to do something about this necessary but missing element in the legal landscape. With a cache of clients serving as proof of the value of having expert contract review on speed dial, modCounsel launched mC IO, an end-to-end solution for contracts. The flat-rate review service is designed to give business leaders accessible contract management and offers 24-hour turnaround for contracts—a helpful edge for competitive growth companies. 

To learn more about the passionate founder and his zeal for contracts, we sat down for a candid interview to uncover the facts behind the new solution and how a programmer-turned-concierge law firm CEO is bringing together deeply-experienced contracts professionals with cutting-edge technology to revolutionize the legal industry. 

Why are you so passionate about contracts?

Ronak Ray: I started in computer programming and then moved into finance. In private enterprise work, a lot of value comes out of transactions, and early on, I realized that I wanted to get closer to the value. So while still in my finance role, I went to law school and started working on interesting deal structures, exploring different creative solutions, and being part of that exercise but with the mindset of seeing the outcomes.

With contracts, you see everything from well to poorly-designed agreements, as well as relationships where there hasn’t been enough invested, and you only rest on the contract itself. Seeing those positives and negatives helped me understand why contracts must be done correctly. It also illuminated that when you invest more into the relationship upfront, the contract is just a byproduct of that relationship.

There’s both the science behind what a contract can convey and the art of helping establish—in a very clear way—what the relationship should be. The magic of contracts is how much you can articulate, specify, and clarify about a relationship. Everything from success to expectations to pricing to what the solution ends up being for either side. It all needs to be put into a document in an elegant way.

How does modCounsel deliver more value to contracts than a typical law firm?

Ronak Ray: At modCounsel, we’ve been working in the contract space for a long time. Some of us have been working in contracts since we started in legal; we’re talking 10, 15, 20 years of experience of negotiating month after month, quarter after quarter—everything from small, seemingly innocuous agreements to very large-scale, complex, multi-level agreements. 

The team at modCounsel brings that experience paired with our different and unique perspectives to contracts. What’s special about what we do is we’ve taken all that experience, productized it, and made it into something that’s more accessible to the general population, bringing this specialized expertise and helping them do what is otherwise pretty routine work.

Typically, a business gets the contract, negotiates it, signs it, and closes it. But the benefit of modCounsel and mC IO is that we’ve gone through many lifecycles of contracts. We know what to look for in a healthy relationship—or what is an indicator of a poorly designed relationship, and we know how to clean it up.

Our contract professionals have been in the market long enough to see the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve acted as architects behind contracts but also served as janitorial staff, cleaning up behind other earlier messes to get relationships back on track. Knowing contracts from every single angle and every stage sets our team apart. 

Well-designed contracts are relationship-focused. With mC IO, we are filling the gap for companies and legal teams to achieve quality effectively at scale. Instead of needing a whole suite of technology, new or dedicated team processes, and ongoing professional development, we can be the team that handles end-to-end contracts that are at the heart of every healthy business.

What can someone expect using the mC IO contract solution?

Our objective is to keep contracts simple and effective. You submit a request,  modCounsel acknowledges receipts, and we get to work for a response within 24 hours. 

On our end, we run through three levels of processing, starting with an initial review to ensure we can understand the true risk of the transaction. Then, we have a secondary round to pressure-test the risks, giving us a more objective judgment. Next, contracts undergo a third level, where we examine the contract in the context of the current market conditions and industry experience.

The combination of multi-level review—each one enhanced by technology, by process, and AI by design—with the modCounsel team, enables very high-quality output at an accelerated pace.

We send back to a stakeholder a very clear view based on our guidance and judgment. We identify the areas that should be a priority for the business based on our experience in your industry. We get confirmation if they agree, then we calibrate once more to be sure that these are the right places to focus our attention. Based on that review, we can take it to the next level, negotiate the agreement, get it back to a place acceptable for the business, and close it out.

What are the benefits of flat-rate risk management?

It’s a very effective three-step process. There’s an intake, the actual review processing of the agreement, and the final steps of negotiation and signature. Our clients get end-to-end coverage with clear expectations of the process and turnaround. 

For typical contracts, there can be a lot of uncertainties. How much am I going to have to pay for this? What if it’s 15 rounds of redlining? Should I pay for all 15 rounds? What if it’s only one round? Is that going to change the pricing? modCounsel works to set expectations around not only turnaround time but what resources will be consumed in doing this for the business.

For many businesses, it isn’t easy to know upfront. If you’re coming out as a growth company, you only work with contracts periodically. We help steward the process for them so they can have the confidence of an enterprise contracting function while having the benefit of paying only for what they effectively consume.

Better Contracts = Better Business Value

For Ronak, contracts are his love language for showing allyship with growth companies. He shared, “It’s about finding those revenue and cost savings opportunities inside these businesses. Within their contract cycles, our clients can show their leadership team how definitive value is being generated by legal alongside their peers on the leadership team.”

A contract solution like mC IO from modCounsel can offer businesses on the cusp a boost of confidence that they have their own team of lawyers, making sure that they are making sound decisions with contracts. In Ronak’s parting words, “There’s peace of mind you get with mC IO. We identify areas to negotiate better outcomes much more efficiently. Every company has contracts that make their business work. We just make it easier for you.”

Learn more about mC IO

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