The legal operations revolution is currently underway in the world of in-house legal departments. It is being led by a peer-based organisation called Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC).
Is it really a revolution? Members of CLOC come together at their annual conference. Last year was the first annual conference for the young organisation. By the second conference, this year, it was the “world’s largest legal operations event in history,” according to Mary O’Carroll, Head of Legal Operations at Google and a CLOC executive leader. There were more than 1,000 attendees at the 2017 conference and there is speculation that it could be 2,500 next year.
What is the revolution about and what is legal operations? It is about optimising legal services delivery to a business or government entity and it focuses on 12 core competencies:
• Strategic Planning
• Financial Management
• Vendor Management
• Data Analytics
• Technology Support
• Legal Support Models
• Knowledge Management
• Professional Development and Team Building
• Global Data Governance/ Records Management
• Litigation Support and
• Cross-Functional Alignment
Although the CLOC movement arose from legal counsel at mainly tech companies, especially those based in Silicon Valley, it is now spreading everywhere. The regional head for Australia is Mick Sheehy, Telstra General Counsel, Finance & Strategy.
Does all of this matter to small companies and to law firms of different shapes and sizes? The best-practices and ideas coming out of CLOC will be influential and will spread to legal departments far and wide. These are the clients of law firms who will necessarily have to keep up with the changes that their clients are demanding.
Mary O’Carroll’s closing remarks at CLOC 2017 are worth quoting extensively:
To the Legal Departments: Challenge yourselves to do something bold. Share what you’re doing with everyone else and help us all get there faster…
To the Law Firms: First, to the ones who are here… Thank you. Talking to you is like a breath of fresh air. Go back and preach! …
To the ASPs/LPOs/LSOs: Keep reminding us that it’s possible to get great value AND great quality. Keep reminding us that we have alternatives. And keep reminding others of us that there are also alternative career paths.
To the Technology Companies: You are the enablers. You are giving us the systems and tools to make change in this industry possible. Make it easy for us to implement. Make it easy for us to demonstrate ROI. Make it easy for us to get people to adopt your tools — eliminate the extra clicks and ensure your UI is clean and easy to use. And most importantly, push the rest of us to standardize, standardize, standardize everything.
To the Law Schools: We are counting on you to train the next generation of leaders. Adapt your curriculum. Help ensure this next generation is constantly looking forward instead of only looking backwards.