A recent merger between Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo has shed some light on the merger process -- more importantly, the need for lawyers when going through a merger process. Typically, documents are sifted through and fine-combed by contractors hired by the US Justice Department. This time around, software was used instead.
A program developed by software company kCura was effectively used to go over merger details. Even though lawyers were still used to create those details, every last inch of the merger was scrutinized using kCura's software. This is the first time that the Justice Department has allowed software to take on a role that is usually performed by humans.
Money Saving Software
Hiring contractors to go over legal documents as part of a merger can cost 3-4 million dollars. With the new software from kCura, this cost has been reduced drastically. By using software to seal the deal, the process only cost those parties involved around 2 million -- that's a substantial savings.
Will the Justice Department use this software in every merger case? Maybe not; but the department has told press that software usage is on the rise. The Justice Department has also stated that the use of software in merger cases is determined on a case-by-case basis. In other words, the software has to be proven useful (and trustworthy) in order for the Justice Department to permit use of it.
Can Software Really Replace Lawyers?
Some lawyers are questioning the use of software in merger cases. For many, going over documents that are part of a merger is a way to become familiar with a case. Further, some argue, software cannot analyze documents the same way that a human can. But, using software in place of lawyers makes a lot of sense where companies are concerned.
Some criticize the software that was used in this case simply because software cannot learn the same way that humans can. Others simply do not trust software to complete the tasks that humans complete. While it's interesting to think that software might replace lawyers, there's a flip side too.
On the Other Hand...
When software takes the place of humans, a problem arises. That problem is simple enough to understand, but rarely makes a difference. Those people that the software has replaced are now out of work. But, again, companies looking to save money don't usually weigh this fact or take it into consideration at all. At the end of the day, a merger that costs millions less that other mergers is the one that most companies are going to choose.
Will software replace lawyers in the future? Is this a good idea? What happens when everything becomes automated? Is this even realistic? Can ever aspect of a merger become automated? If you think about it, just because software has replaced a few contractors doesn't meant that these programs will replace all contractors, right? Let me know what you think below -- especially if you happen to be a lawyer!