About the author

Mary O'Carroll

President of CLOC

Director, Legal Operations at Google LLC

My Opening Remarks and Reflections from CLOC’s 2019 Institute

By Mary O'Carroll

Page Reading Time: 3 minutes

In April 2018, as I closed out the Vegas Institute, I was simply blown away by the energy, the passion and the power of that event. I remember thinking at the time, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.” Well, I was wrong. Our 4th Annual CLOC Institute in Las Vegas last week was, as so many attendees pointed out, filled with an energy level and positivity that was off the charts. I returned home more energized and inspired than ever before!

In the past, I have written and posted my closing remarks from the CLOC Institutes, but this time, I will simply direct you to the video of my opening (too lazy to type it all up!). As you’ll see, we kicked things off with an inspiring welcome video featuring testimonials by GCs from some of the world’s leading companies. Each spoke on the positive impact of legal operations and of CLOC. And to think, just a few years ago, people didn’t even know what the term “legal ops” meant.

I’ve had a week to reflect upon the Institute and wanted to share some additional thoughts. First, I am so humbled to represent the CLOC community and this movement as your president. This year’s Institute, with over 2200 attendees, was the ultimate evidence of how far our once-small community has grown. Nowhere else will you find this many experts, drawn from all backgrounds, all perspectives, and all parts of the legal ecosystem, sharing their best ideas and practices, and collaborating on results.

So what’s next? As I mentioned in my opening, we’re more committed than ever to taking this community and movement forward. This year, we’re purpose driven by two major principles: 1. Focusing on the community and 2. Engaging across the ecosystem.

Focusing on the Community

First, we are returning the focus to what we believe makes this organization great — the community. The whole idea behind starting CLOC was to help Legal Ops professionals do their jobs better and to create and share best practices. We want to ensure we’re doing that by making it easier for you to interact, participate, and learn from each other. To support this principle, we’re launching a new member community platform that will allow us to create more subcommunities and topical discussions, to create more webinars and trainings, and work across the ecosystem to generate more relevant and useful content.

Engaging Across the Ecosystem (with a focus on Law Firms)

While there is more interest and belief than ever about legal operations from all the players in the ecosystem, there continues to be a significant divide in our perspectives and approaches. We believe that CLOC has a huge role to play in bridging these divides and driving real change in the industry. As such, we’re starting by actively focusing on getting law firms more involved with CLOC this year. In a couple of months, we will pilot a new membership type for law firm legal operations professionals. This will be separate from our existing in-house CLOC community, but will allow these law firm participants to network, share ideas, and actively communicate across the divide with each other and with in-house members. We foresee creating topical discussion forums like pricing, diversity and inclusion, knowledge management, and more, where individuals from both law firms and in house teams can collaborate and help each other. We believe that including the voice of the firms in our discussions is critical to better alignment and movement in our industry.

One of the concerns I expressed from the stage during my kick off at the Institute is whether or not law firms can “embrace the CLOC culture” which requires us to be courageous enough to be imperfect, to share openly, and to admit when we have no idea what we’re doing. We were afraid that we would launch this thing and no one would be willing to ask questions or contribute their experiences, learnings, or struggles. After all, law firms are used to being the expert on all things to their clients and have indicated to me in the past that they are uncomfortable admitting that they don’t have it all figured out yet. By the end of the three days, however, I feel very hopeful about what’s to come. I had so many meaningful conversations with law firm attendees who expressed excitement, initiative, and positivity about what we’ll be able to accomplish together. I feel like we’ve moved past the point of uncomfortable conversations to a new phase where we are ready to embrace the change, energy, and passion and where happily we find ourselves sharing the driver’s seat on this new adventure!

As I have said many times before, everything about legal operations is hard — every step of the way. We’ve come so far, but there is still far, far to go. This community we’ve created is full of passion and perseverance and when we have passion and perseverance, anything is possible. Just remember the quote I closed with: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”

Thank you for making the 2019 Institute a success and for being such an integral part of this movement. I can’t wait to see where this rocketship goes next. See you next year!