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Neil Jackson

American University Washington College of Law

My Experience as a CLOC Scholar at the 2019 CLOC Institute

By Neil Jackson

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Attending the 2019 CLOC Institute in Las Vegas was an invaluable way for me to learn about the legal operations function and build a lifelong network of industry professionals. It was an honor to be recognized on stage during the conference before over 2,000 attendees.

The rise of legal operations has taken corporate legal departments by storm. It goes without saying how exciting it is to be indoctrinated into the field during its early beginnings. There were many general and breakout sessions that facilitated deeper understanding of legal operations and how to successfully build and optimize a legal operations team. It is encouraging to learn that legal operations professionals come in many shapes and sizes, from law firms, project management, and finance. I took away resources on key operations skills, common general counsel priorities, roles and reporting structures, and average headcounts by company size. These lessons learned will make me a better thought-partner and advocate for the legal operations function.

Another breakout session I found particularly useful was entitled, “Breaking Down D&I: A Practical Guide to Developing a Mature Diversity & Inclusion Program.” A Diversity & Inclusion Maturity Index published by Baker McKenzie and CLOC was distributed that helps organizations benchmark and improve their progress towards a mature D&I program. I will leverage it to make an immediate and direct impact at my workplace as a member of the Law Department’s D&I Committee.

In addition to the educational development opportunities, scholarship recipients are also assigned a mentor to connect with while attending the Institute. My mentor, CLOC D.C. regional lead Daniel Yi serves as Senior Counsel for Innovation for the United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law. Daniel introduced me to several of his colleagues who were pioneers of the legal operations profession. We also had a number of interesting conversations about the future intersection between technology and the law and of the lack of awareness of the legal operations field among students.

It really struck me how little law students are exposed to legal operations during their studies. There are far too few classes on what legal operations is and why it is important to a high-performing, well-functioning legal department. Moving forward, I hope to work with my law school and Daniel on ideas and ways for more law students to be introduced to the legal operations function, and I plan to stay connected with the regional CLOC community.

Finally, you can’t be in Las Vegas for several days without having at least a little fun. There was time to enjoy the evenings on your own. I went to a Cirque du Soleil show and relaxed by the poolside. Coincidentally, for me, the trip came at a perfect time as I had just completed final exams of my 2L year!

I am grateful to CLOC for being one of the only organizations dedicated specifically to recognizing and investing in the future champions of the legal operations profession. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!