The Contract Topics On The Business World’s Mind

As we navigate the fourth quarter of 2021 and prepare to enter the new year, certain contract-related topics are taking center stage at large companies.

To get a sense of which topics are trending among Above the Law’s readership, we took a detailed look at “intent data” compiled by Bombora, the leading provider of B2B sales and marketing data. Intent data is privacy-compliant user data that measures spikes in activity across a network of websites to identify areas of increased interest. 

Could supply chain issues upend commercial contracts in Q4? What contract trends may emerge in a post-pandemic future? 

The graphics below analyze data from businesses of at least 1,000 employees over 12 weeks ending this fall to see which contract-related issues are garnering the most interest and which industries are most concerned about contract management going into Q4.

Contracts by the Numbers

We start by looking at the legal topics that are getting the most attention right now.

Not surprisingly, labor and employment law issues top the list. As the pandemic has upended the way nearly every company does business and caused a significant amount of employment upheaval, people want to know what to expect in the near future — whether that’s a settling-down of the recent turmoil or continued uncertainty.

The other top topics are ones that were already in the spotlight before the pandemic and continue to shape the future of business law. We should expect to see continued emphasis on legal research, practice management, eDiscovery, privacy, and contract management going into the new year.

On a more granular level, certain issues related to contracting are high on businesses’ list of priorities right now.

Specifically, contract negotiations were the clear front-runner in the intent data for Q4, with contract renewals coming in at a distant second. As businesses have had to deal with unforeseen changes and novel challenges, it’s no surprise that many contract terms are now being tested and renegotiated. Going into the new year, as contracts are coming up for renewal, much focus is being placed on contractually protecting companies’ interests.

With respect to the industries showing the greatest interest in these issues, the results are again unsurprising. Healthcare, manufacturing, and retail lead the pack – all industries that were hard-hit by the pandemic and continue to see ongoing business challenges. From new healthcare demands arising from COVID to the recent supply chain issues that are severely impacting companies in the manufacturing and retail sectors, these industries continue to navigate some of the most uncertain waters in Q4.

When it comes to specific contracting issues, the area seeing the greatest increase in interest was again, by far, contract negotiations, with more than twice the increase of the next highest topic. Rounding out the top five were project tracking, breach of contract, smart contracts, and contract renewal. 

In contrast, some contracting issues saw a significant decline in interest among large companies. The areas seeing the greatest decline were purchase and sales agreements, digital signature technology, and document control.

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