Recapping CLOC Institute 2019: To Evolve Legal Ops, Be Fearless!

Mitratech Holdings, Inc
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If we had to identify a key theme of CLOC 2019 Vegas Institute? It was fearlessness. Because in many different ways, it’s going to be vital to the growth and evolution of Legal Operations.

The idea of fearlessness was there in Mary O’Carroll’s opening remarks, where she reminded everyone that “Legal Ops is not a trend, it’s a movement.” The movement has been driven by people’s willingness to take chances and break new ground in pursuit of Legal Rising.

She was forthright in her call for law firms to have the courage to evolve, just as corporate-side CLOC members are doing. CLOC is leading the way once again by opening a doorway for that to happen, as she announced a pilot program where a number of law firms will be participating in their own community within CLOC.  The trial effort is aimed at providing them with a space where they can interact with each other and collaborate, share, and innovate around Legal Ops.

Our Steven O’Donnell sees this as part of a larger signal to the CLOC community. “In my opinion, the primary message from CLOC to all the attendees was to be an active part of the Legal Ops movement, be willing to experiment and put yourself out there.”

Having the bravery to co-innovate

Co-innovation was another theme in Las Vegas, and it’s linked to the idea of overcoming fear. A community like the law firm beta forum will give those attorneys – who may be leery of technology, or of the idea of sharing ideas and information with other firms – a sense of how “the Legal Ops movement is all about collaborating and sharing with peers to move the entirediscipline forward,” Steven says. “This all aligns perfectly with what we’re trying to accomplish, too, and what was said during our Legal Ops 2.o session at CLOC.”

What is compelling CLOC to launch this initiative? For Legal Operations to truly maximize its value to the legal industry, in-house legal departments and outside counsel must be on the same page.  Uniting a company’s legal ecosystem, and leveraging cornerstone solutions, can pay off for all stakeholders.  But only if old-school attitudes and (let’s be honest) toxic traditionalism give way to the fresh approaches CLOC members are constantly developing to optimize the triad of people, processes, and technology that are key to Legal Ops.

As Mary explained it, “we believe CLOC has a huge role to play in bridging that divide and driving change at scale. And so right now we’re really actively working on getting law firms more engaged in the CLOC community.”

As observers like Stephen Embry have pointed out, law firms may not have felt as compelled to evolve as in-house legal teams. For one thing, many were not previously feeling the performance pressures from a corporate C-suite that have forced in-house legal teams to make improvements. But now, those companies are fixing their attention on outside counsel in their search for better efficiency and results.  An experiment like CLOC’s forum will help prove the benefits of Legal Ops-driven collaboration in satisfying a firm’s increasingly demanding clients and improving its bottom line.

A community founded on courage and curiosity

CLOC’s opening panel, featuring GCs from Oracle, The Gap, and Westpac, reminded everyone of how the courage to take chances and risk failure has always been a strength of the Legal Ops movement. So, too, has a powerful curiosity about what new processes and new technologies can bring to the legal industry.

Nigel Bond of Westpac stressed how important that desire to explore and experiment has been. The discipline’s pioneers have been relentless in opening up new opportunities, rather than shutting them down by defaulting to safe, conventionalized approaches.  The open dialogue and collaboration that’s stoking the success of Legal Ops spring from this powerful impulse to test new ideas.

Many CLOC presenters came back to this point: How a diversity of perspectives and ideas, coupled with the courage to fail, are central to Legal Ops success. Why? Because there will probably never be a single, one-size-fits-all answer to the diversity of challenges facing the legal industry.

That’s undoubtedly why there was such a huge amount of discussion and enthusiasm around co-innovation centers for promoting the sharing of insights and best practices.

Thanks to the momentum being created by initiatives like KPL, digital collaboration spaces will become basic components of successful Legal Operations, breaking down barriers between solution providers, law firms and clients so they can work together in united ecosystems. Meanwhile, tech user communities will let them even share ideas and best practices with Legal Ops teams at other companies.

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Mitratech Holdings, Inc
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