Updated by Maarten Truyens
While gradually inputting clauses over time is the most "natural" way of building a clause library, some legal teams want to kick-start their library. That's why we built a mode that helps you import many different clauses at once.
This mode essentially allows you to upload many different MS Word files at once, extract relevant clauses in them, categorize them into folders, and finally clean and store them. Through judicious use of smart artificial intelligence, the software will warn you about possible duplicate clauses, and also suggests where to store your clauses.
Words of warning
Before we describe the technical details of the bulk import process, we would like to issue a few words of warning.
No fairy dust
The artificial intelligence built into the bulk import mode causes some lawyers to think that their clause library will be built automatically for them.
Nothing could be further from the truth. As you will undoubtedly notice once you start uploading your existing Word files, there are many decisions to be taken when importing your clauses:
- Which filename do you want to assign to your clause? A concise and descriptive filename will avoid that the users of the library will have to read a lengthy clause each time they are consulting the library.
- How will you handle near-duplicates? In practice you will for example find many clauses that are grammatically quite different, but are nevertheless equivalent from a legal perspective. Do you want to store both, or only keep one?
- Do you really want to store highly specialised clauses that happen to be present in your Word documents? During negotiations, the weirdest compromises can be reached, and maybe you do not want to "pollute" your library with such clauses. Or maybe the opposite is true, because you want an exhaustive library full of inspiration for colleagues?
- How are your folders organized? To which (sub)folder do you want to assign a particular clause?
- Do you want to import a large clause as a whole, or instead split it into smaller independent clauses? A typical example is the "Miscellaneous" clause at the end of a contract, but there are many other examples of paragraphs for which this question can be raised.
- Optionally you can assign attributes to the clause to allow your users to easily filter clauses.
- Do you want to clean clauses (e.g., generalize their terminology, or make the terminology consistent with your other clauses) before importing them into the library?
... and so on. You can read more about these thoughts in our library guide.
While ClauseBuddy's artificial intelligence will help you with some of these aspects, you will undoubtedly notice that those decisions cannot be taken by software. In fact, many of them are subjective and/or require legal experience, and different legal experts will probably come up with different answers.
The bulk trap
When you are importing hundreds of clauses, you should be aware of the "bulk trap", as it will be very tempting to choose quantity over quality.
Many of our users have noticed that a gradual import process — where clauses get added when they are encountered during daily practice — tends to lead to higher quality, as human psychology provides you more thinking time for each clause. This tends to lead to higher-quality clause libraries, with carefully chosen filenames, attributes, internal comments, and so on. For data protection (GDPR) and NDA compliance reasons, you will also want to cleanup some clauses, so avoid that personal or confidential data would sneak in.
The bulk import mode does not prevent you from reaching the same level of quality (it actually provides several features targeted at this), but the temptation will be there.
Using the browser version
When bulk-importing, it is often desirable to have lots of screen space. Unfortunately, MS Word reserves a minimum amount of horizontal space for its own document, so you will "lose" some valuable screen space.
It could therefore be a good idea to use ClauseBuddy in a browser window instead.