In just a few years, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) has emerged as a main driver of innovation and professionalism in the legal operations field. We are experiencing a period of significant transformation in corporate legal departments. There is a massive need for a community of like-minded individuals to come together and talk about ways to better collaborate and drive greater business outcomes by continuing to refine the definition of the legal operations function. We saw that happen at the 2018 CLOC Institute last week.
CLOC’s unique accomplishment has been to focus on helping legal ops professionals make connections where none existed before. Since CLOC was founded, the work of legal operations has matured and professionalized. We are at a point where the industry is starting to tackle heavy questions around topics such as diversity, the evolution of vendor relationships and the future of technology. It is all very exciting, and this year’s CLOC Institute helped to continue driving the transformation.
Partnership Is Essential
There was an incredibly positive vibe around legal operations at the conference. Much of the discussion last week, not surprisingly, was around the relationships between corporate legal departments and law firms. With GDPR looming and security top of mind, there were also many interesting conversations about how Legal and IT need to play together to address an ever increasingly complex security landscape.
With corporate legal departments being held to increasing levels of accountability, I was not surprised to hear conversations that frequently used terms like ROI. We are moving past the era where corporate legal departments and their outside counsel have a competitive relationship. We are well down the path to a partnership where both want to take a collaborative approach that increases success for everyone. There is still more work to do, but I see progress everywhere I look in both the cultural and formal approaches to legal partnerships.
Innovation and Evolution Are Ongoing in Legal Operations
As a technology professional I love hearing legal operations professionals talk about disruption, especially as it relates to technology adoption. But technology is a means to an end. Those I spoke with at CLOC 2018 certainly understood the need for innovation in technology to be supported by new business models for legal services, the amplified role of GCs within the C-suite, and the continued development of best practices.
Along with disruption comes the sunsetting of outdated practices. Several panels and speakers talked about how the old metrics, like how much to cut legal spend, need to be viewed in the context of improving business outcomes. Two speakers emphasized that the path forward is not about cutting costs, it’s about driving strategic value to business partners. That is the conversation to be having.
I am deeply grateful for the work CLOC is doing to drive the ball forward in this industry. It is an exciting time to be developing the technology that supports the growth and evolution of legal operation, and I expect the landscape will look very different in a few years. The CLOC Institute was a great opportunity to hear from legal professionals and I would also love to hear to what you have to say.