It was a week in which Twitter announced the most retweeted post in its history (one man’s plea for a year’s supply of Wendy’s chicken nuggets accrued 3,433,000 retweets, beating that Oscars selfie in 2014). But in the legal world, Las Vegas and the Corporate Legal Operations Institute (#CLOC2017) was trending.
1. Legal in Las Vegas at The Bellagio
— Mary O'Carroll (@maryshenocarro1) May 8, 2017
Mary O’ Carroll head of legal ops at Google Legal operations, part of the executive leadership team at CLOC, fittingly got the tweets rolling. O’ Carroll has helped to develop the event, which celebrates legal operations, a new position inside the majority of Fortune 500 companies, whose role is to ensure that the legal department functions more like a business. CLOC was welcomed by The Bellagio—famous for an iconic final scene in Oceans Eleven and its dancing fountains. CLOC explored 12 core competencies that underpin legal operations: Strategic planning; Financial management; Vendor management; Data analytics; Technology support; Alternative support models; Knowledge management; Growth and development; Communications; Global data governance/records management; Litigation support; and Cross-functional alignment.
2. More than 1000 people in attendance
— Kunoor Chopra (@KunoorC) May 9, 2017
Kunoor Chopra, Entrepreneur, legal process outsourcing professional, reflected on the size of the growing event which is only in its second year. In total, the 2017 CLOC featured 50 content sessions. The movement is only likely to grow: in the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) CLO Survey, found 26% of general counsel delegated legal operations to an ops team or department , up from 16% just one year before.
3. Booking a date with law’s future
— Richard Susskind (@richardsusskind) May 9, 2017
In the words of Susan Hackett CEO of Legal Executive Leadership, LLC, Richard Susskind, “everyone’s favorite legal futurist“, took 750 books and “his crystal ball” to the key note speech. He signed plenty of books and set the tone for the three-day conference: “I often say that the only career decision you need to make as a lawyer and only strategy decision you need to make if you’re in the commercial world is, do you want to compete with machines or build the machines?” He added: “Surely our generation will redefine the way that law is practiced.”. Though surely there’s some AI automation possible for all that book-signing?
4.Hire A Robot, Get Sh*t Done
— LawGeex (@lawgeex_) May 9, 2017
Discussion about AI was everywhere, of course including LawGeex’s booth (read about the evolution of our booth here). One of the very first sessions of the conference, “Practical Applications of AI in Today’s Law Department,” attempted to answer questions on the practical use of AI. This included buying advice: define your problems and KPI first, ask providers what they mean by AI and request references. The panelists were three corporate legal operations experts giving their own experiences: Mary O’Carroll, Google; Steve Harmon, vice president and deputy general counsel, Cisco; Sylvie Stulic, Electronic Arts and Paul Lippe, former GC of Synopsys Inc. and currently with Elevate, who moderated the panel.
5.But AI is hard to define…
— Bill Henderson (@wihender) May 9, 2017
It was Paul Lippe, former GC of Snynopys, who put the definition of AI under the spotlight. It starts with the fact that AI isn’t particularly well-defined, Lippe noted in his opening remarks (for our explanation of AI in law see our recent post) . For many, there are three main descriptions of AI in legal departments. Panelists not only explored ways to use AI as a complement to lawyers, but also how to practically implement it in legal departments. “Part of what we need to do as operations professionals is get people to adopt this technology, and that technology may be disruptive to their jobs,” Lippe explained.
6. No more Attorneys v The Rest thinking
Going to the heart of the CLOC mandate, came this comment from Lucy Bassli, assistant general counsel of legal operations and contracts at Microsoft. This came as part of the Magna Carta session—an airing of grievances for the six key stakeholder groups of legal operations which CLOC unites: corporations, law firms, regulators, law schools, technology providers and outside service providers. Bassli said: “Lawyers need to embrace all the other professionals that are in this ecosystem because without them, we will not move forward. There is a fundamental problem with the fact that we still think of our profession as attorneys and everybody else.”
— InHouse magazine (@CLInHouse) May 10, 2017
7. Show Me The Money: Salary negotiations for Legal Ops
— Katharina Wohl Thomason (@KatWohl) May 11, 2017
It was not only about collaboration at CLOC—but also asking and getting what you deserve in compensation negotiations. Sonya Som and Mark Yacano from Major, Lindsey & Africa drew on their experience with legal search to provide a practical road map for how and when to raise compensation issues, how to use compensation discussions as a tool to set you up for success after you take the job and, how to prevent that offer from slipping away. Monica Zent tweet-warned: “don’t let that sweet smile fool you) @SonyaOldSom of @MLAGlobal doling out negotiation tactics of a tiger.”
8. Case studies of change
The conference drew on its all-star guest list to include case studies of legal ops leaders who are transforming their departments through tech. Susan Hacket here tweets the case of Kerry Phillip, Head of Legal at Vodafone. Fittingly in Vegas, Phillip talked about the data addiction lawyers should watch out for once they have new tech in place. Her advice: secure your funds, hang on to them tight, look for quick wins, select the right partners, take your team with you and do not underestimate the tasks. Other case studies of legal process changes included Yahoo, DHL and Pfizer.
Phillip: once you get your first taste of legal data when working in a company that's data rich, it's game done. You're addicted! #CLOC2017
— Susan Hackett (@HackettInHouse) May 10, 2017
9. Inspiring closing
— Daniel W. Linna Jr. (@DanLinna) May 11, 2017
Daniel W.Linna Jr, Law Professor and Director of LegalRnD at MSU Law, was among those wowed by the final closing of CLOC. Alma Asay Founder & CEO of Allegory Law quoted O’ Carroll’s comment: “Maybe it’s good to be a little crazy. Because maybe it’s going to take a little crazy to break down those walls.”
10. This story will run and run
— David Kinnear (@BKAdvisoryLAW) May 11, 2017
David Kinnear Founder and CEO of High Performance Counsel Media summed up the prevailing mood of the conference. In his fuller blog Kinnear concludes: “It takes a village, yes. It will take many participants and contributions to help this part of the industry achieve its extraordinary potential. It will take a lot of work conveying some of this to a still-reticent, conservative profession.”
He continued: “You couldn’t mistake the sense of momentum in the air and in the conversation around the halls of the Bellagio this week. The sense of opportunity and conviction drowning out even the twinkling slot machines on the floor.”
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