May 3, 2021
By Mike HavenReading Time: 5 minutes
On May 1, I officially assumed the helm as President of CLOC, the world’s largest and most respected peer association promoting and supporting the legal operations ecosystem. I am humbled to be selected for the role, honored at the opportunity to build upon the work of great leaders before me, and excited to serve a trillion-dollar industry whose progress is essential to a civilized and just global society. It must have been an easy decision to accept the appointment, right?
Not exactly. Before agreeing to step up, I spent considerable time asking myself a simple question: “Why me?” I would be thrilled to see another diverse leader in the role. I already have a busy day job (that I love) and steering the CLOC ship will eat into precious free time. Despite my knee-jerk reaction to dive in without testing the water temperature, given these second thoughts I had to consider carefully whether accepting the additional responsibility was the right decision.
Having been involved with CLOC since the beginning, and on the board of directors for the past two years, I understand and believe deeply in CLOC’s vision. I have a vested interest in the success of the organization and our community. But I needed to wrap my head around why me. I needed to define my personal “why” to truly make sense of it all and ensure that I was making the best decision for the thousands of people and companies who are stakeholders in CLOC’s success.
After analyzing my “why,” I’m all in. At the highest level, I decided to accept the weight of a global movement on my shoulders because I want to give back to an industry that has done so much for me. Indeed, that is why I dove in to CLOC in the first-place years ago. But my decision to lead this wonderful organization into the next phase of its journey to transform the business of law has a deeper layer. My personal “why” for serving as President of CLOC consists of three elements underpinning the desire to give back.
Sense of Duty to Carry the Torch
First, I care deeply about all the people in our community. I want to honor and support them, as they have given so much of themselves in sacrifice for the greater good. At its core, CLOC is about sharing best practices and helping each other solve problems. We would not be where we are as legal operations professionals, as an organization, or as a legal industry today if not for the generous contributions of our members. They deserve a share of my nights and weekends, and I am happy to give it to them.
In this new role, I am a steward of the vision of the great people who founded and stood up CLOC. This is a high honor. Their efforts and sacrifices must not wither away in vain. I refuse to allow the work of our legendary founders and leaders go to waste. They have built something big – a community greater than the sum of its parts – and we have only just begun to reap the fruits of their labor. The opportunity to honor the struggles and successes of these pioneers by continuing their mission and taking it to the next level was too profound to pass.
I am grateful that several of these amazing founders remain on the CLOC board and encouraged me to take on the lead role. I also am grateful for the next generation of leaders, who are as committed as I am to the success of our community and future of our industry. We know that we were handed something special and have a lot of work to do to build on it. Together, we will roll up our sleeves and propel CLOC into the next phase of legal transformation.
Passion for Fanning the Flame
The idea of moving forward and taking CLOC to the next level leads to the second element of my personal “why.” I am passionate about adding oxygen to the flame lit by our founders and making it shine even brighter. This means expanding our mission and our focus into critical new areas.
In its first five years, CLOC has focused primarily on promoting the evolution of legal operations through education and support of in-house professionals who in turn brought game-changing operational improvements to their corporate legal departments. We have pushed for progress in areas such as process improvement, digital transformation, and data analysis – things I consider to be “matters of the mind.” This was a critical phase in our evolution. It facilitated the explosion of the field into what it is today.
Now, we must broaden our focus to put what I call “matters of the heart” – values such as inclusion, equity, justice, empathy – front and center on our agenda. This is what our industry needs now. We must unite as an ecosystem. We must bring more people to the table. We must ensure that those people come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Coming out of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a different place as a society than we were in early 2020. The past year has taught us many lessons. Among them, we were reminded that we are stronger together than we are as individuals. This applies to progress in our industry just as it does society as a whole. When we work together and push collectively for fairer, better outcomes for all, we can make a real impact.
CLOC began to take steps in this direction even before the pandemic hit by giving law firms a seat at the table, then took a step further by creating the ecosystem membership. It is critical that we double down on those efforts, encouraging all people in the legal ecosystem to join our crusade and work together to transform legal into a more accessible, diverse, practical, and efficient industry. Our collective future depends on it.
Charting Our Course for the Future
The third component of my personal “why” is sheer excitement about where we are going as an industry and the opportunity for CLOC to make a profound impact on the journey. We are at an inflection point in history. The pandemic, advancements in technology, a focus on efficiency, and the demand for diversity, equity and inclusion have created the perfect storm for change. CLOC has become a powerful force in the industry and is well positioned to lead. It is vital that we continue to rethink our strategy roadmap to ensure that we are addressing these important issues of our time.
As we continue to develop our functional maturity, it is important that we continue to look within ourselves and ensure we have the organizational maturity to support our responsibilities to our community and industry. In this regard we have come a long way in the past year, adding our esteemed Executive Director, Betsi Roach, and an excellent staff of committed professionals to handle the day-to-day business of CLOC. Still, we have more to do.
As part of our next chapter, we need to include more of our members – including ecosystem members – in the leadership of this organization. We must elevate our regional leaders and give them more opportunities to impact our direction. We must find more ways to highlight the great work and innovation of all our members, to help them achieve success on a personal, organizational and industry level. I could not be more excited to tackle these challenges and help move CLOC forward.
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When I started with “why” it became abundantly clear that, despite my reservations, taking on the responsibility as CLOC’s next President was the right thing to do. Now that I’m in role, it is time to shift my thoughts away from personal reasons and lean into CLOC’s “why,” “how,” and “what.” Why do we want to transform as an industry? How should we go about it? What specifically are we trying to accomplish? These are important questions in sequence, and throughout my term as President I will be posting regularly to ensure transparency in CLOC’s vision, mission, and progress.
Meanwhile, we have a great program on tap for the CLOC Global Institute starting on May 10. I hope you can attend and be a part of history as we move into CLOC 3.0 and our post-pandemic future.
Thank you for your confidence in me. Onward and upward!