Contract Management Lessons from Recent Immigration Ban

On Friday January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order suspending the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, halting admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and barring entry for three months to residents from predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

Regardless of political views, this immigration ban issued by the White House has direct consequences for the business sector, particularly on the execution of contracts. Let’s review some key takeaways in contract management from ongoing developments on U.S. immigration policy.

  1. Need to Text Search Documents

When a government action such as this one catches your enterprise by surprise, you need to be able to quickly establish what contracts are directly affected. Trying to accomplish this through a paper-based contract management system or a series of uncoordinated online databases could take several days and, even worse, leave out some of contracts.

On the other hand, CLM software allows you to quickly do a text query through all of your contracts, including those that were uploaded through a scanner or were stored in PDF format.  Take for example the case of Google, which had nearly 200 employees affected by President Trump’s immigration order. Trying to manually catch all of those contracts would be a logistical nightmare and would slow down the decision making in your enterprise.

  1. Ability to Securely and Remotely Access Documents

One of the Googlers affected by the immigration ban was caught off guard during a trip to New Zealand. Imagine having one of your key contract managers supposed to be at the office on Monday and now being stuck on the other side of the world.

In case of paper-based contract management system, key contract copies may be either in her suitcase or insider her desk drawer back at the office. In case of using only Word and email for contract management, then your contract manager may not be working with the most up-to-date contract draft or she may be unintentionally holding that latest draft hostage while she’s abroad.

Leveraging CLM software would allow you to keep a repository of contract templates, clauses, and key documents available anywhere from an Internet connection in real time. Depending on the needs of your enterprise and compliance requirements from your industry, CLM software can be deployed as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or on-promise. In the example of the contract manager stuck in New Zealand, she would still be able to securely and remotely access and upload contract data.

  1. Execute Contracts Faster with E-Signature Software

Due to the executive order limiting immigration from certain Muslim countries, several green card and visa holders were held at airports. Picture that another one of your contract managers were to be held for several hours at an airport and no longer able to attend a key meeting to physically sign a contract.

This problem could be minimized or completely circumvented through the use of e-signature software which would allow the contract manager to digitally sign a document from anywhere with an Internet connection. In this scenario, e-signature software opens several options, including the contract manager signing off a power of attorney and executing contracts remotely before or after the meeting.

  1. Localize Contracts to State Legislation

The immigration ban reinforces the importance of localizing contracts according to state legislation. There have been several reactions from state government to President Trump’s executive order but some states have been more proactive or vocal than others.

For example, on Saturday January 28th, 2017 a federal state judge in New York  issued a stay order blocking the executive order and looking to help several immigrants with valid visas or refugee status. On Sunday January 29th, 17 attorney generals, including those from Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Maine, signed a letter vowing to “use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order”. The very next day, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson became the first attorney general from the group to seek a halt to the executive order.

If the attorney generals from the other states follow through on their commitment, we can expect to see more temporary injunctions leaving more people in federal custody in airports across the country. As legal actions continue to take place, it becomes important for legal teams to keep up to date on the latest developments amend existing contracts when appropriate, and craft clauses that address new state legislation for future use.

The Bottom Line

As more attorney generals raise additional motions against the executive order, it remains to be seen whether or not the current administration will push on with the executive order. Getting a resolution on this executive order is just the beginning, the White House has already made announcements that it’s planning to tackle additional immigration programs, such as raising the minimum salary for H1-B visa recipients from $65,000 to $130,000.

However, by identifying affected contracts faster and more efficiently, accessing documents securely and remotely over the Internet, executing contracts faster with e-signature software, and localizing contracts to state legislation, your enterprise will be in a better position to respond to upcoming changes.

Image Credit: Joe Gratz