Marathon Asset Management Boosts Legal Team Efficiency and Firm Expansion with AI-Powered Contract Automation


hours saved in NDA processing time per year


of employee bandwidth freed up


NDAs processed per week

“For anyone who has experienced a strain on resources due to a need to review routine, high-volume contracts, Ontra is the best solution out there.”
Craig Thaler | Managing Director at Marathon Asset Management, LP


Challenge: High-volume NDA reviews burden the legal team

Despite a globally distributed staff of about 180 professionals, Marathon Asset Management maintained a lean legal team. Each team member made a crucial impact on the business, but the high volume of routine NDAs distracted them from higher-impact work.

Typically, NDA reviews were handled by a couple of legal team members who would manually process as many as 400–500 documents per year. Craig Thaler, Managing Director at Marathon, explained that he had been the firm’s primary NDA reviewer throughout his over 18-year tenure at the firm, spending a frustrating 2-3 hours per day reviewing routine contracts for potential transactions. As a senior lawyer, he knew that he could have significantly more impact on revenue-generating investment activities if he could offload the review of NDAs and other minor agreements, so he hired a full-time junior attorney to assist him.

It didn’t take long for Thaler to realize that, amid an ever-increasing volume of contracts, adding headcount wasn’t a permanent solution.

“I needed to avoid hiring yet another lawyer to cover all of those NDAs and a growing volume of transactional and investment work,” he shared.


Solution: Ontra’s Contract Automation alleviates resource drain and reduces headcount needs

Thaler and his team needed a solution that would support the demand for high-volume, routine contract reviews. The traditional routes of hiring another full-time lawyer or engaging an outside law firm were expensive and temporary solutions. Ontra’s Contract Automation service stood out as an innovative and cost-effective option.

According to Thaler, “The other alternatives weren’t as cost-effective and lacked AI capability. They didn’t have the infrastructure to provide a one-stop shop.” In contrast, Ontra’s Contract Automation solution offered a comprehensive answer thanks to AI-powered software, a global legal community, and tailor-made playbooks. In particular, Thaler was impressed by Contract Automation’s AI functionality, which recently integrated OpenAI’s GPT-4, and Ontra’s focus on continuously improving accuracy and speed.

After a few short conversations with Ontra about customizing the playbook and formalizing workflows, Marathon implemented Contract Automation with ease. Thaler originally planned a 6-month trial period in the firm’s London office, followed by a slow expansion to the New York office and beyond, but his plans changed as he quickly realized benefits from the solution.


Results: Regaining valuable time and boosting firm expansion

Ontra’s Contract Automation solution immediately outperformed expectations. It provided much-needed relief, eliminating the 2 to 3 hours per day Thaler used to spend reviewing NDAs. Thaler and his team were freed to focus on high-level transactional work that delivered a much greater business impact. Because of Contract Automation’s swift, quantifiable result, the rest of the company adopted the solution well before six months had passed.

Not only did Contract Automation give Thaler and his team much-needed relief from a high volume of NDA work, but it also supported the firm through significant growth. Thanks to the low-touch management of NDAs and around-the-clock support from Ontra’s global legal network, the firm quickly adapted to the increase in transactional work without hiring additional, full-time employees.

The timing couldn’t have been better: Just as Marathon began using Contract Automation, the firm grew its headcount, investment strategies, and assets under management. Thaler noted that Contract Automation saved him not only the time required to hire, train, and manage new employees but also the costs associated with that effort.

Marathon has been using Contract Automation for just over two years, and Thaler estimates that it allows his team to process 5-10 contracts per week with limited involvement from Marathon’s internal team. The firm is currently exploring using Contract Automation to manage other routine contracts to provide even more support for its legal team.

When asked whether Contract Automation met Marathon’s goals, Thaler replied, “Absolutely. I think it’s actually been better. I didn’t realize how much time I’d be able to take back.”

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