Last week, Lindsay Duprey and I had the pleasure of attending our first CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium) Institute at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. What we discovered was a close community of international Legal Professionals sharing best practices from their in-house teams, and the operational initiatives that have transformed their organizations resulting in measurable gains in efficiencies for their legal departments.
Highlights of the conference included networking events on and off the exhibition floor as well as seven tracks of CLOC institute sessions focused on many topics including leadership, budgeting/managing spend, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Contract Management. The sessions were enlightening on the nature of today's Corporate Legal Department, with three in particular that really resonated with me:
Big Thinkers Session: The New Magna Carta for the Future of Corporate Legal Services
This day two panel discussion featured industry leaders Lucy Bassli, Asst GC, Legal and Corporate affairs, Microsoft Corporation, Lisa Damon, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw, Andrew Perlman, Suffolk University, Scott Westfahl, Harvard Law School, Mark Ross, Integron, and Ralph Baxter, Industry Advisor, moderated by CLOC Corporate Secretary Jeff Franke, Asst GC, Legal Operations, Yahoo!.
It was an open and frank discussion around the inter-operations of the various players in the legal industry including Law Firms, Law Schools, Regulators, Technology Providers, LSO’s and other non-law firm service providers with Corporate Legal. The panel spoke at length with regards to the developments they have seen with regards to the relationships between law firms and corporate in-house legal teams and how it is always evolving and will continue to do so.
My key take away from this discussion was that in the future, Corporate Legal Operations teams will need to take leadership over changing the currency of the legal services market for it to be sustainable.
Law Department-centric Legal Project Management (LPM) that Benefits the Client
This was the second session that left a lasting impression. In this Legal Project Management focused session, three companies shared their experiences working on projects that required a high degree of in-house legal project management. Notable to this session was the presentation by Gerry Boccuti, Director of the Pfizer Discovery team. He noted that by Pfizer’s establishment of an internal LPO culture resulted in three key outcomes:
- Improved utilization of external law firm (cost control)
- Improved quality and response time on your matters
- Enhanced career opportunities for corporate legal Discovery services professionals.
By sharing their experience around establishing an LPO culture, Pfizer is leading the way towards a future state where corporations house enhanced Discovery practices to their advantage.
Turning Innovative Ideas into Results: Why Collaboration is Critical to Success
Last but not least, this session provided substantive efficiency improvement metrics, presented in a very entertaining way by Mick Sheehy, GC Finance, Technology and Innovation Strategy of Telstra (Australia) and Lisa Leong, CEO and Tristan Forrester, CSO of O10 APAC. By working with their in-house team and operations to streamline activities and realign resources, they achieved a more than 40,000 hour improvement in eliminating low value/non-strategic work from high value internal counsel via their newly established Legal Innovation Forum. In addition, they took on low cost quick-win adjustments within their team to automate the NDA process using technology that allowed them to eliminate the need for 2-3 full time NDA counsel in house. They were strategically able to re-assign those high value resources to high value strategic work, creating a positive financial benefit to the organization and permitting their in-house counsel to take on more meaningful work.
Overall, the CLOC event was very well attended and was an excellent forum for sharing best practices for Legal Operations and networking in the Corporate Legal industry. We look forward to engaging with the CLOC organization in the future and attending future events.
For more information about CLOC and their events, go to www.cloc.org.