For the first time since 2019, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Global Institute (CGI) returned in person to the Bellagio in Las Vegas. And what a time it was! Despite the pandemic, CLOC and CGI are both bigger than ever – CLOC’s membership now tops 4,000, CGI attendance was over 2,000, its largest yet on record, and there were over 100 exhibitors.
It was awesome to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, and to participate in the abundant educational sessions and networking opportunities. If you were there, we hope you had a chance to stop by HBR’s booth and get your flip flops or to Mingle with us and The King! If you missed CGI, or if you were there but your memory is foggy (no judgment here), following are a few of our key takeaways.
There’s momentum for change, but we must take risks.
At the opening session, CLOC leaders emphasized the momentum for change, accelerated by the pandemic. As CLOC president Mike Haven said, “this is an extraordinary moment of possibility.” But to achieve what’s possible, legal ops leaders must take risks and be willing to fail, themes that permeated the conference. CLOC itself took some risks in its programming: keynote presentations from Dear World and street artist Erik Wahl on The Art of Vision® encouraged CLOC members to get out of their comfort zones in telling their personal stories and conveyed the messages that “imagination is almost more important than knowledge” and “sometimes it pays to take risks."
The legal ops career path is evolving.
Recognizing that there is no longer a single career path as the legal ops profession has expanded, CLOC added “Career Center” programming this year, covering personal development topics such as personal branding, leveraging social media, and better brain health. Also new this year were self-care features such as a “Mindfulness Lounge.”
Diversity is top of mind for many.
There were multiple sessions focused on some aspect of diversity. Managing director Marc Allen joined Nathan Miller from Gilead Sciences’ award-winning legal ops team to present “Automate Diversity Tracking and Performance Reviews with Legal Tech,” and the diversity aspect of the presentation definitely garnered the most questions. Law departments struggle to capture information in light of various privacy rules, while law firms are challenged by multiple clients’ inconsistent reporting requirements. “It’s clear that law departments have a strong desire to incorporate the diversity of law firm staffing on their matters into their outside counsel scorecards, but many are still struggling to do that in a simple and consistent way. The good news is that they don’t have to start from scratch, and the use of the right workflow tool, in conjunction with a business intelligence platform, can reduced a lot of the friction related to the data collection, aggregation, and dashboarding.” Marc observed.
Law departments have ever-increasing tech options, highlighting the need for user adoption and streamlined reporting.
The abundance of tech vendors at CGI made it clear that there’s been no slowdown in the pace of growth in technology platforms available to corporate law departments. Managing director Scott Springer noted, “several of the historically law firm-focused vendors have started to turn their attention to the corporation as a means to continue their growth.” As law departments build their tech stacks, user adoption remains a challenge, however. Springer noted that old habits are hard to break, and law departments should not only extensively train users, but also monitor utilization of tech applications over the long term to ensure the tech sticks. Additionally, as law departments acquire a range of tech solutions, a consolidated data strategy is critical, as was evident from several educational sessions. Departments should be able to bring together data from multiple sources to automate and streamline the reporting process and give lawyers and legal ops professionals data to make better decisions.
Contract management continues to grow.
Among the numerous tech exhibitors, contracts-related providers dominated the exhibit floor. We counted a dozen each of CLM providers and contracts analytics solution providers. There were also more than a handful of contracts-related educational sessions. Senior director Rohit Gulati commented, “as CLM takes center stage by delivering value to the enterprise, clients are taking a more thoughtful approach to creating a roadmap of their CLM journey, selecting and implementing systems that align with business priorities and focusing on user adoption.”
Law departments are eager to demonstrate value.
Several sessions focused on how law departments can demonstrate their value through data, storytelling, and more. In the closing session, a panel of general counsel discussed the importance of aligning with overall business strategy, looking at issues with a business lens, and constantly asking how they can do things better. Managing director Lauren Chung remarked, “law departments have an opportunity to bring data forward to tell their story of impact and value as strategic business partners. Leading law departments will invest in data mining and analytics to support their continuous improvement journey.”
Collaboration is critical for success.
One of CGIs’ opening themes was that when we work together, we can overcome obstacles and achieve goals as we learn to collaborate more seamlessly across the legal ecosystem. Several sessions focused on collaboration with internal clients, with outside counsel, and with other external providers. Building on CLOC’s 2019 expansion of its membership eligibility to include all in the legal ecosystem, law firms were a very visible presence this year, counting 11 exhibitors and more than 10 times as many attendees. Firms are eager to demonstrate their value through collaborative technology and other value-adding services. “Although law firms have been increasingly supportive of CLOC over the years, it was especially impactful to see so many different types of departments, practice groups and roles represented this year. From partners to COOs to heads of pricing, KM, and innovation, law firms are eager to increase collaboration opportunities and better align with the needs of legal ops teams at their clients,” observed Chris Ryan, senior VP, client development. Amy Good, director, strategic alliances and client development, added, “through HBR’s partnerships, our clients can access the best of what’s available in the market. CLOC really highlighted how the pace of innovation in our legal tech partners has continued to accelerate.”
These are just a few of our takeaways. For more insights about this year’s CLOC Global Institute, please listen to The Legal Ops Podcast’s event recap, sponsored this year by HBR Consulting.
Finally, as always, if you have thoughts or input regarding any of the above, if you missed the chance for a demo of our enabling software solutions such as CounselCommand or our Utilization + Adoption Dashboard, or if we can help you in any other ways, please feel free tor reach out to us. Viva Las Vegas!