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CLOC London day 1: three sessions, six lessons

Richard Mabey, 1 July 2019

Legal operations

Europe's sharpest legal ops minds got together this week in London to share the latest insight on how to run in-house legal like a business. We were rocking booth 2✨, but if you couldn't be there, here's what you missed.

1. Running like CLOC-work

In the last few weeks, CLOC underwent a change at leadership level: long-time President Connie Brenton, Director of Legal Operations at NetApp, left her post, along with Yahoo!'s Jeff Franke. But CLOC-watchers needn't have worried. Mary O'Carroll, Director of Legal Operations at an up-and-coming internet company called Google, has stepped into the President's role, and VMWare's Aine Lyons, CLOCs EMEA lead, has stepped up to join the board.

Mary's opening remarks underlined CLOC's determination to redouble its efforts, continue to share knowledge aggressively, and build on the collaborative legacy that CLOC's former leadership established. The global footprint of CLOC has consistently doubled over recent years, and the attendance in London shows that this organisation is still going from strength to strength.

2. Efficiency savings are really, really real

Steve Harmon of Cisco took to the stage, and if the ethos of Legal Geek is 'come to make friends,' then the ethos of CLOC is surely 'come to share'. Steve offered to share every stage of his contract workflow improvements, from templates to negotiation advice - and more than that, he shared the kind of contract process stats that are music to Juro's ears πŸŽ΅πŸ‘‚ ... through the lifetime of Cisco's reimagined, digital-enabled contract workflow, legal achieved 6x faster signature, saved 50% of staffing costs on contracts, and achieved time/cost efficiencies worth a jaw-dropping $800m. As Steve pointed out, an awful lot of contract risk has to be realised before that ROI on that $800m tips back the other way.

Struggling to explain the ROI of contract process improvements? Check out our guide to making the Bulletproof Business Case - in just 12 steps

3. Don't buy a treadmill

At Juro we've always focused on buying technology the right way - if you even need to buy it at all. Steve made the point that buying tech and expecting it to fix your problem (if you're even clear on the problem in question) can be expected to deliver results with the same kind of certainty as buying a treadmill to get in shape. Namely, there's a lot more to it than just buying the machine. Lawyers need to be clear about when and how they add value, and what they're able to influence.

4. Smart collaboration: avoiding the overcommitted organisation

Harvard Law's Heidi Gardner knows something about collaborating the right way at the enterprise level. You might even say she wrote the book on the subject πŸ‘‡

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... and she also knows the dangers of using smart collaboration techniques the wrong way:

"Smart collaboration needs to be used surgically - think about what ends you're trying to accomplish that you simply could not do without those connections. Smart collaboration is costly, risky and time-consuming"

Her session on smart collaboration underlined the fact that it's the job of legal operations professionals to know when it's appropriate to reach out across the business and break the silos. It's something we've spent a lot of time thinking about at Juro - check out the relevant chapter in our eBook, from Mike Russell at Ingersoll-Rand, here.

5. A problem shared ...

Heidi Gardner is running a survey, which you can find HERE, aiming to discover the common issues that worry today's C-suite. The level of agreement in the room was surprising but also strangely comforting:

 

One of CLOC's founding purposes is to facilitate knowledge sharing between practitioners. If legal ops professionals can continue to gather and share common pain points, then we can all feel confident that the direction of travel for in-house legal is still heading towards greater efficiency, and more added value.

6. 'NewLaw' can bring real value

The final session of the day saw Royal Mail's Maaike de Bie, Sky's Vicky Sandry and VMWare's Aine Lyons sharing their real experiences taking advantage of the flexibility and efficiency offered by new entrants to the market, in a session called 'Creating & Maximizing the Value of a Legal Ops Function In a Rapidly Changing Legal Ecosystem'.

While that doesn't trip off the tongue, the session turned out to be extremely actionable. Vicky shared her experiences using lawyers from another common law jurisdiction as an LPO resource - something that garnered lots of interest around the room. Similarly, the proposition that flexible working is not a fluffy nice-to-have, but a hard-edged business strategy that helps secure and retain the best talent, shouldn't be controversial in a room full of forward-thinking in-house lawyers. Maaike shared her experience of using spend analytics to surface a pain point that ultimately led to the creation of 15 jobs in Sheffield.

All of this is to say that it's not accurate to see legal operations, in a conference dominated by FTSE 100 and S&P 500 companies, as a remote concern - a luxury, something only available to legal departments big enough to find extra money for it. Because throughout day one of CLOC's London institute, again and again we heard the stories of real people using ground-level techniques to transform their workloads, change their jobs, and help their companies to grow. That's an agenda we can get on board with.

Stay tuned for day two at blog.juro.com.

Check out all of Juro's legal ops resources, including guides, blogs, articles and webinars, as well as the entire eBook, at our legal operations hub. Download our eBook here.

 

Topics: Legal operations

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