The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, or CLOC, recently held its annual Global Institute in Las Vegas, bringing together more than 2,000 attendees to discuss the most recent trends and developments in the legal operations space. The event featured 200 speakers in over 75 different sessions.

This year’s CLOC Global Institute was special, as it marked the return to the event’s traditional in-person format. The ability to reconnect was welcomed by the attendees, as they networked and discussed pressing issues facing legal ops today, including technology, data, and more.

The following are three of the biggest takeaways we heard from this year’s conference attendees. 

1. The role of legal ops is more strategic than ever.

The legal industry has shifted significantly in the past decade, and legal ops has risen to a role of prominence in many organizations.

Today’s legal departments have a significant amount of influence, advising senior leadership on critical business issues while many organizations are grappling with heightened risk and increasing costs.

These legal departments need legal ops more than ever to help contain costs and streamline workflows, and bringing a strategic lens is key.

As Google’s former head of legal operations, Mary O’Carroll shares, it’s a shift from “legal ops to strategic ops.

Legal ops professionals need to be chameleons, understanding data one day and managing eDiscovery or contracts the next. They need to not only navigate these challenges, but manage, be creative, and collaborate in an effective way. 

2. Legal ops wants to see value quickly when implementing new tech.

Not surprisingly, technology was a major focus at CLOC this year. Speakers who were highly experienced with large technology implementations explained how to take an approach that’s consciously designed to achieve quick wins, like automating NDAs, and be able to demonstrate ROI right away. 

One approach is mapping out a 100-day journey for your implementation, which includes the small wins you want to achieve in that time. It’s also important to start using your tech as soon as you implement it, so you can learn what works and where you need to make improvements. Key elements of a successful 100-day plan that leads to quick value include:

  • Understand the work that your lawyers are being asked to do and their pain points
  • Understand your overarching policies and the process of the work you’re doing
  • Decide where you want to bring value to the organization and triage the tasks you apply the technology to accordingly
  • Don’t be delayed by picking a technology; pick a technology that fits your problem, rather than the fanciest tech out there, and learn as you go once you have it
  • Get your IT team and your leadership on board with your vision for success

3. Data is the key to success in legal ops.

Technology and data make it possible for legal ops to handle all these challenges and new demands coming their way.

Spreadsheets no longer cut it. With manual processes, you can’t possibly understand all the different metrics and data points of your organization or measure the success of your various strategies and implementations. You need the right tools to be able to make use of your organization’s data and see if you’re reaching your goals.

Legal ops today begins and ends with data. At the end of the day, you can talk about implementing business improvements, but if you don’t have baselines for where you started and where you’re trying to go, you won’t be able to measure progress or ensure success. The more data you have, the better you can understand your organization and make the decisions necessary for success.

It’s also critical for legal operations pros to develop an in-depth understanding of the exact needs of the lawyers they work with. This is particularly so for those coming to the field from outside of the law. 

While promoting efficiency and demonstrating ROI remain critical functions of legal operations, the best teams also have the savviness to consider factors beyond just cost savings, focusing on providing the quality and value that will help an organization thrive. 

Bonus takeaway: The great return to in-person collaboration.

Zoom may have been critical to getting everyone through the last two years, but being able to get everyone back in action truly made the conference a resounding success.

Attendees were excited to rebuild relationships and engage with colleagues across the industry.

To that end, there were panels throughout the week focusing on the whole person: from personal branding, to mindfulness and wellbeing, to building community and networking. These panels in particular generated widespread enthusiasm in an environment newly energized by in-person interaction.

While the professional excitement surrounding a burgeoning industry and the wealth of information presented were truly remarkable at this year’s conference, the return to in-person collaboration was surely a key highlight.