At the CLOC EMEA Institute in London earlier this month, we caught up with legal ops leaders to take the temperature of the industry.
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Hi!👋 Who are you?
I'm Amy Hayden, legal operations manager at Cambridge University Press (CUP).
Great to meet you! How long have you been working in legal operations?
I’m fairly new to legal ops, having started this role in September - previously my work was a mix of paralegal, administrative, data protection and compliance work. I’ve been at CUP for three and a half years, and came to legal ops via being executive PA to the GC here, Catie Sheret.
It’s a really exciting time to be in legal operations, particularly as it is fairly new to CUP. Our legal team has grown over the last few years to become a global function of 35 people. Demand tended to follow with growth, and as we grew, we were given more and more work, and now it’s a matter of making sure we’re supporting the business in the right way for the work in question.
"I have a vision of where we’re aiming to end up at CUP in legal ops, and it’s interesting to explore whether the picture in my mind of the future matches how others have made it work for their businesses"
What are the main types of work for the legal function at CUP?
The Legal & Business Affairs team supports the management of the Press’ legal, regulatory and compliance risk globally. We help the business acquire, protect and exploit intellectual property and comply with applicable law wherever we operate. This involves varying volumes of very different types of contracts, of different levels of value and risk. Our focus has turned to creating self-serve workflows within the business for low value (usually high volume) contracts to allow legal expertise to flourish, while automating the noise that takes up too much of our time.
We have been developing a self-serve functionality for about 18 months, and we are continuing to improve and grow our digital contract management functionality. An important part of my job is discovery, looking at the crunch points around the business and department and exposing the bottlenecks in processes. We’re about to start gathering data with Toggl to help us map out our resource allocation properly, to ensure work sits with people at the right level of seniority.
What events are out there (besides CLOC) for the development of legal ops in the UK?
Legal Geek was great - legal ops is a relatively new and vibrant industry, and learning what people are doing, what technology they are using and what their process roadmap looks like is really useful. I have a vision of where we’re aiming to end up at CUP in legal ops, and it’s interesting to explore whether the picture in my mind of the future matches how others have made it work for their businesses, especially in a more mature market like the US.
Legal Design Geek was a great addition - stripping back the issues and talking not just about technology, but actually getting the problem defined properly first, which makes mapping solutions a lot easier.
"If you have a vision, people will listen to you and buy into it, but if you can’t paint a grand picture of the future for your stakeholders, it makes change much harder"
What are the main challenges when trying to improve legal processes, whether that’s with or without technology?
I recently qualified as a change management practitioner, and I think that when it comes to improving processes, changing the way people think about or approach a task is the biggest challenge. For example, here, we’re an established business, and bringing change at scale to a business of our size can be quite frightening, and take a long time. So there’s a huge job to be done with a business of this size with regard to being sensitive about how to bring in these solutions, how they’re communicated, and how the implementation goes. If you have a vision, people will listen to you and buy into it, but if you can’t paint a grand picture of the future for your stakeholders, it makes change much harder.
Making changes is easier if you start off with familiar or intuitive ways of working at the outset. Those kind of proposals are easier to put to the board - similarly, if we can build a solution in-house, then even better!
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What have been your highlights from CLOC?
The session with three female leaders - Maaike de Bie from Royal Mail, Vicky Lyons from Sky, and Áine Lyons from VMWare - was very empowering. The overriding theme was to work smarter, not harder, and to judge performance by output, not input. The traditional ‘lawyer’ way of working has involved putting in really long hours, clocking in and out, and it’s great to see successful legal departments challenging that model.
Gathering the right data in the right way is crucial in having a clear picture to make decisions in a way that’s proactive, not reactive - data was a key theme across the two days at CLOC. The other theme that really came across was approaching technology the right way - making sure problems are clearly identified, rather than quickly buying something off the shelf and expecting it to solve your problems.