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Unlike most other legal conferences that focus on pushing products, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, or CLOC Institute, provides actionable insight for adopting innovative practices and changing legacy frameworks within legal departments. In her opening speech for CLOC 2019, Mary O'Carroll stated, “Legal ops is not a trend, it's a movement.” With over 2000 attendees to this year's conference in Vegas, CLOC has shown that it is indeed a movement, and a force to be reckoned with.
In the panels, discussions, and outside networking events, CLOC Institute’s major themes of putting people first and optimizing processes rang true. Here are some of our main takeaways from the conference:
Dedicated as it is to building the legal operations community (even within law firms), CLOC affirmed the idea that problems should be solved with people and processes first, not tech. One major takeaway from the conference, is to never assume that technology is the first, only, or even correct solution. While tech might introduce more seamless solutions, it isn’t worth much if the fundamental operational problem is not addressed. Instead of grabbing for the newest and shiniest piece of technology and hoping that plugging it in to your existing process is sufficient, consider whether the problem can be solved by (re)training team members or optimizing an inefficient legacy process.
To the previous point, there is no single solution that can solve all problems. Speakers at CLOC drove home the point that, especially as it relates to contract management, there is no single solution that addresses everything a legal department or business needs. Legal ops professionals and vendors alike have learned that it is okay to embrace the multi-vendor solution, and that ideally, vendors, partners, and products can be used together to provide the most comprehensive solution. This provides the best chance of success.
In the opening General Counsel panel, Nigel Bond, Dorian Daley, and Julie Gruber advocated the importance of velocity and scale; this idea was subsequently repeated throughout the conference. With the expansion and prominence of the right-now economy, particularly online marketplaces and the gig economy, businesses are moving more quickly and operating at an entirely different scale. As a result, it is crucial that legal ops teams adopt a mindset that allows for increased velocity, reduces bottlenecks, and maintains the integrity of legal processes.
Throughout CLOC 2019 Institute, many speakers drove home the importance of embedding efficiencies throughout the entire business, not just the legal department. We heard over and over again how crucial it was the build in efficiencies to workflows and processes that scale over time. That is, don't just think about problems you want to solve inside the legal team, as that will create and/or exacerbate the silos. Instead, think about how the problems you are trying to solve can incorporate into the larger business and into the ways the legal department interacts with the larger business. Incorporating these into the very DNA of the business can be transformational for legal operations.
All in all, CLOC 2019 Institute went a long way in furthering the legal ops movements. Thanks to all the CLOC board at the fireside chat — Jason Barnwell, Christine Coats, Mike Haven, Lisa Konie, Aine Lyons, Mary O'Carroll, and Jamal Stockton — for doing an excellent job for the conference and for the movement. They've built an organization in which thought leadership leads the way and actionable insight foregrounds growth. CLOC proves that it is fostering the right approach to achieve change in how legal departments, and even law firms, operate.
At PactSafe, we will continue to support the mission of and movement that is CLOC Institute, and do our part to encourage innovation among legal teams.
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