CLOC is an organization and community with the mission to help enhance the function of legal operations, and is part of a growing movement that recognizes the importance of legal operations professionals within corporate legal departments. CounselLink® is proud to support and attend the CLOC Institute each year because we believe bringing better innovations to your legal department starts with sharing knowledge with your peers and understanding what happens in the industry.
At the 2019 CLOC Institute in Las Vegas, there was no shortage of knowledge-sharing; over 90 sessions covered a range of today’s hottest topics, including “building your legal operations brand,” “implementing successful legal operations,” “the importance of metrics,” and “going beyond diversity in the legal environment.” There was so much great information, we couldn’t wait to come back and share it with you!
CLOC’s Special Announcement
Though CLOC is focused on supporting corporate legal departments, they announced a new program that’s intended to expand on the value that they provide. The new program is an option for law firm professionals to get more engaged and ultimately become members of CLOC. Legal operations at law firms work very closely with their in-house partners, and this program should help firms gain insight into client needs, culture, and business in order to better partner with them.
This program is essential because the role of legal operations has evolved from what was something of an afterthought into an indispensable function with dedicated, skilled professionals. Formal recognition and a move to standardization can only help continue to raise the visibility of legal operations and its importance in the corporate legal department.
Build Your Legal Operations Brand
Today’s legal operations professionals should work to build their brand as a dedicated partner that works side-by-side with the other members of the legal department in keeping things running smoothly. In “Building and Optimizing Legal Operations Program,” presenters offered advice to start building a brand through finding champions in other departments, focus on bringing value, building credibility, and achieving a few quick wins.
A good legal operations brand is a value-add to each department and to the business overall. Additional values and benefits that legal operations can provide to the legal department and to the organization as a whole include:
- Partnering to find better business/legal solutions
- Introducing better and more efficient processes
- Looking for new ways to accomplish key goals and tasks
- Managing company risk
- Building out escalation frameworks
- Evaluating and introducing improved technology
- Providing sound legal advice
- Meeting (and improving) turnaround times and due dates
Legal operations can serve as a critical conduit to the general counsel in helping facilitate legal services throughout the broader organization. By partnering with other departments across the company, a skilled legal operations professional can reveal that working with legal is a simple process and help to gain support of its critical business partners, such as finance and IT.
Implementing a Successful Legal Operations Function
While not every corporate attendee at the CLOC Institute has the formal job title of “legal operations,” we believe there is a strong case to be made for investing in a formal legal operations role within legal departments of every size. The legal department functions best under a leader who oversees business processes, technology, knowledge management, and internal training. Having someone “own” these critical operations will drive efficiency, control costs, and create consistency across the organization.
Key skills that members of this team should possess to be successful include:
- Project management
- Executive presence & business acumen
- Comfort with data & financials
- Change management
- Presentation skills
Travelers hosted a session, “Innovation Inspiration: Strategies for a Successful Innovation Spirit,” on how they were able to add greater value to the business by involving the entire legal department in their innovation sprint. They partnered with Duke University Law Tech Lab to create a program that solicited innovative ideas to improve legal department performance and better support the business. They held a competition where each team submitted proposals that described a problem, proposed a solution, and predicted the impact the solution would have. Four winners were chosen and their ideas were implemented. As a result, the contest elevated the brand of the legal operations department and solidified their reputation as innovators.
Using Metrics & Capturing Data
CounselLink hosted a packed session that discussed how legal departments from Travelers and Northwestern Mutual approached their matter management implementation and used data to prove their value. It’s important to have key metrics, capture data, and know how to use the data. That’s why CounselLink developed a Work Management solution, giving a holistic view of all work—not just matters—that flow in and out of the department, providing the flexibility to capture all of the data the department needs to track.
The right data also helps departments determine how well they are serving their clients. It helps the legal team align its resources—the right work with the right people moving through the right processes. It’s another reason that a holistic view of all work flowing in and out of the department is crucial.
Additionally, the law department needs to be able to identify comparative value for various types of work, even those that go beyond matter management. With a work management solution, the department can show comparative value through measurable results in the form of saving time, reducing the budget, and keeping processes on track.
Going Beyond Diversity
Diversity and inclusion was a hot topic among sessions and hallway conversations. “Breaking Down D&I: A Practical Guide to Developing a Mature Diversity & Inclusion Program” showcased a joint effort that Baker McKenzie, Starbucks, Oracle, and Northwestern Mutual have been working on for the past eight months to develop a Diversity & Inclusion framework. As a result, they created a framework that describes what a legal department looks like across four levels of maturity, providing a practical guide and tool to help legal teams and legal ops leaders benchmark their D&I programs and maturity.
With only 28% of legal departments having a formal diversity program, many companies are undertaking diversity initiatives of some form as they work to align their outside counsel with the values of their organization. These legal teams are going beyond diversity and are working to cultivate environments of inclusion. They are achieving diversity and inclusion through education/training, change management, supplier engagement, and community partnerships.
Did you attend CLOC 2019? Let us know what you thought was the most interesting or useful information presented at the sessions you attended by tweeting us at @LexisNexisLegal. In the meantime, let us know what your goals are for your legal ops team and/or what challenges you’re facing. We would love to hear from you.
Aaron Pierce is the Vice President and General Manager of the CounselLink business. With over 20 years of technology leadership experience, and over 10 years in the legal software space, Aaron is passionate about helping legal professionals achieve greater outcomes through data-driven decisions. This role is Aaron’s second with the CounselLink business, having led the account management team from 2008 — 2011. Prior to re-joining CounselLink in 2016, Aaron worked in several strategy and product management roles within LexisNexis, including eDiscovery and insurance. Prior to LexisNexis, Aaron spent 12 years guiding an Internet technology company in California from start-up to maturity.