Using heatmaps to make contracts easier to understand

The last few years have seen the tremendous rise of the infographic, whereby (occasionally) complex data is displayed in a visual form that is designed to be much easier to digest.

Traditionally, such graphics have been used in a content marketing context, so the data held within has been slightly towards the fluffier end of things.  They have undoubtedly sowed some seeds however with regards to the visual display of complex data.

Visual display of legal data

A startup that’s finding this out is Beagle, who provide a visual tool for legal contracts.    The tool, which is AI based, will provide users with a graphical summary of any lengthy document, such as a legal contract, in a matter of seconds.  The aim is that it will save users significant amounts of time by making lengthy documents much easier to digest.

“Contracts suck. And everyone knows it and everyone has to deal with it,” the founders say.

“The purpose of Beagle is to increase your comprehension of an agreement very quickly, to be able to carve through all the language that is not necessary to what you need to do.”

How it works

Users upload a contract onto the Beagle website, at which point the AI will rapidly scan the document, taking approximately 0.05 seconds per page, before then returning its summary in an easy to digest graphic.

The output is a kind of heatmap of liability, whereby the liabilities of each party is highlighted.  The idea isn’t to say whether a contract is a good or bad one, or even to verify its legality, but rather to quickly express how a contract is devised and who is responsible for what.

You can see below an approximation of how the graphic will look for a contract analysis.


“That’s the good thing about the legal language is that in order for those clauses in a contract to be enforceable they have to be objective,” the founders say. “In order to be written objectively, that kind of narrows down the number of ways you can construct that sentence from an English perspective.”

The AI system at the heart of Beagle is a self-learning algorithm that learns the preferences of each client and adapts itself accordingly.  The AI has been trained by a combination of lawyers and NLP experts.

In addition to providing the graphical representation of a contract, the software also allows users to collaboratively edit documents in real time.

Beagle joins a number of other attempts to make legal matters cheaper and more affordable, including eDiscovery startups such as Logickull and legal crowdfunding sites such as LexShares.

Check out the video below for more information about Beagle.


One thought on “Using heatmaps to make contracts easier to understand

  1. It's certainly an interesting approach. It's a little hard to see just how it works, I guess I'd need to see it in action to really grasp it.

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