February 2020| Aine Lyons, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, WW Legal Operations
The third annual CLOC London Institute kicked off on January 20th, 2020, at the Landmark Hotel, London. Over the course of two days, an energetic crowd of 430 attendees from 27 countries came together to CONNECT, LEARN, and COLLABORATE.
Legal Operations professionals from corporate teams and law firms filled the educational sessions and networked with legal vendors and service providers in the exhibit hall to exchange ideas, share information, learn about new services and technologies, and to challenge each other to reach new heights in 2021.
The structured meet-and-greets were fantastic opportunities to forge new partnerships and to rekindle existing ones. Members of the CLOC community also got together quite organically during the Institute to share dinner, or a cocktail, and built even stronger connections. These “Off the CLOC” social and business gatherings presented additional networking opportunities for participants, that will have a ripple effect throughout the year.
The Institute kicked off with opening remarks from Mary O’Carroll and me, followed by an always inspiring opening keynote by Dan Katz, who spoke on (yes, you guessed it) where legal technology and innovation has taken the industry over the last 10 years and his top predictions for the future.
Our goal for the Institute was to provide content that was tailored to the European legal ecosystem, while being practical and providing actions that could be implemented immediately. CLOC’s 2020 priorities seemed to resonate well across the community in Europe.
Here are a few key insights that I took away from London:
- Better Together: We are stronger as a connected community. In an ecosystem in a rapid state of evolution, everyone acknowledged that working in silos will hamper our ability to drive sustainable transformation. We need to work even more closely together to be successful. All boats rise with this collaborative approach, and we all become more invested in each other’s success when we work together to build solutions. Hearing the results of these types of collaborations will be a focus for CLOC London 2021!
- The CLOC Community is a Powerful Movement and Force for Good in the Industry. In an industry that is in a rapid state of transition, harnessing our collective ingenuity and diverse skills and thought will be an imperative for law firms and in-house teams that want to be agile, innovative and impactful to the clients and businesses they serve. We have the opportunity to leverage our collective power to drive positive change across the legal industry and create space for conversations on how we can make a difference. Let’s take on this challenge together!
- As GC roles evolve, Legal Ops is an Imperative Hire. Our panel of General Counsels leading the “General Counsel and their Legal Operations Lead” session demonstrated the powerful and strategic nature of the GC/Legal Ops Lead partnership and how working together, they are driving transformation and delivering value to the businesses they serve. Legal Operations Leads are now essential hires for GCs.
- Technology is an Enabler, Not a Silver Bullet. Technology implementations are still very challenging: user adoption and change management are still areas of underinvestment. Efforts to gain consensus on both the problem being solved and the potential products and services that will lead to better adoption of the selected solution is key. This will be another area of focus in 2021!
- The Proliferation of Legal-tech and Legal Services Providers is Overwhelming for In-House Teams. The new CLOC Legal Ops Directory is a good start in identifying all the vendors; however, this proliferation of vendors represents a more significant challenge for in-house Legal Ops teams . We would like to see more vendor consolidation within legal-tech. We need enterprise systems that work together seamlessly.
- This interoperability between systems will only be possible when vendors across the legal technology industry begin to collaborate to solve the problems challenging Legal Ops and their teams.
- Data is Power. Leveraging data and analytics to measure Legal Teams impact on the business is imperative in driving strategic decisions with business leaders and law firms. Many teams are struggling with access to easily consumable data due to multiple tools and integration challenges. Consolidated platform systems will help to access data and legal service providers can help with cleansing data and the human effort to build foundational dashboards to leverage predictive analytics capabilities.
- AI Needs HI. AI is still in the nascent stages with multiple tools solving unique use cases that need significant Human Intervention (HI). We need to see more vendor consolidation and collaborating in this space to reduce the heavy lift for in house teams. Legal service providers working with AI vendors can present better solutions to clients if they work together.
- Human Capital is Still Our Most Significant Asset! Are we doing enough to nurture and grow our Legal Leaders? The “Legal Leaders of the Future” session reminded us of the need to invest in our people and not leave anyone behind. This will require an intentional effort and investment in the development of resilience skills to prepare leaders for a more VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world. The CLOC community can help chart a new course for those in our community who feel rudderless and fearful of the changes ahead. Together, we can inspire confidence in our ability to operate successfully in a new future by sharing ideas and leveraging next-gen development programs.
- Progress, not Perfection, is Our Mantra. The Legal Ops Journey panel offered a fascinating insight into the different approaches each of the panellists took when prioritizing their initiatives in the first year of their roles. Progress, not perfection, is an essential mantra to adopt. Investments in change management initiatives are crucial to bringing people with you on the transformation journey.
- Law Firm Leaders Need to Solve Client Challenges. Law Firm COO and Innovation roles will help drive change, but in-house teams need to use their influence and buying power to invest in and reward innovative firms.
The 2020 London Institute was a great success in bringing our members together to Connect, Learn, and Collaborate. We are excited to begin planning the 2021 London Institute and hearing how the connections and collaborations forged this year have impacted each of you and your journeys as Legal Ops Leaders.
Mark your calendars for January 18-19, 2021. We’ll be meeting at the Grand Lancaster, London. See you there!
About the author
Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, WW Legal Operations