What happened in Vegas:
CLOC 2018 viewpoints
By Cheryl O’Neill
The 2018 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (#CLOC2018) event in Las Vegas was by any measure a great success, reflecting the unicorn-like growth of the legal-ops role at both law firms and enterprise legal-departments.
Describing its mission, CLOC says it is there to help legal-operations professionals and other core corporate legal-industry players – including tech providers, law firms, LPOs, and law schools – optimize the legal-service delivery models necessary to support legal departments large and small.
Clearly, they are achieving their goal as the growth in interest and attendees has been dramatic. At a glance, the agenda revealed an outstanding list of 80 break-out sessions across 8 tracks covering key competences from planning and change management, through tools, tech and processes. All of this was supplemented by more than 60 demo sessions.
Seal Software’s on-the-ground team, representing a cross-section of roles and perspectives, shared their views from Las Vegas. They all agreed that the legal-ops industry keeps growing and growing, and shows no signs of slowing down, and professionals representing legal departments that want to streamline processes and focus on what matters were right at home at CLOC.
As part of an interview series for this year’s CLOC, a member of the team from Priori chatted with Seal Software’s General Counsel, Laurie Brasner. Priori is a legal-talent platform for corporate counsel, so naturally Brasner’s journey from “Big Law” to in-house counsel, and how technology is helping organizations ace their legal ops, were important topics.
Asked what she found most surprising about the rise of the legal-ops industry, Brasner responded, “That nobody was talking about it sooner. It’s one of those ideas that, once it was out, there led me to think, why weren’t we always doing it this way? There’s a big piece of legal operations that relates to technology but there’s so much more of it that doesn’t.”
She went on to explain that legal departments are about so much more than just reviewing contracts. “It’s also about understanding your information governance, your strategic planning, spend and a million other things. The fact that nobody did that sooner is kind of shocking to me.”
Brasner’s views on the role of technology summed up the views of many of the attendees. Technologies that cover the twelve competencies identified by CLOC as necessary for any legal department to succeed, are proving the most valuable. “It’s all about efficiency and the ability to not only have the information at your fingertips when you need it, but the confidence that it creates. With a tool like Seal, our customers know that they have all their agreements and can find whatever they need within them at any time. Today I need to know X, but tomorrow I may need to know Y.”
This year’s consortium was the third annual CLOC gathering for Christina Wojcik, a lawyer herself and a Leader of the Solutions Group at Seal. She noted the difference between the first year of the event and the latest institute, calling it outstanding.
“The event started with a handful of participants and a scattering of providers ranging from legal technology – such as contract management, e-discovery, matter management and e-billing – to alternative legal service providers.”
The objective of CLOC has always been to bring together best-in-class technology and practices to drive cost savings, efficiency, and career advancement in the profession. Wojcik said, “Fast forward to this year and participant numbers have exploded along with the number and variety of providers. This growth can only be a reflection on the importance of legal ops within an organization where legal and business intertwine to drive business practices into the legal function.”
Mark Rollins presented a demo at CLOC, as Product Management Vice President at Seal, and this was the first time he attended the program. He was surprised by the number of vendors present providing a solution related to contracts, be that contract authoring, contract management or contract review. “Most had artificial intelligence in their literature,” Rollins noted.
“This broad representation of AI truly validates the space Seal pioneered in 2010. Next year, I predict that AI in combination with blockchain technologies will dominate many discussions.” Seal introduced intelligent contracts at CLOC this year.
“April was a good month with Gartner naming us a ‘Cool Vendor’ in its report on content and services. As we strive to innovate, we believe that AI and blockchain will be a new paradigm for managing and processing contractual documents.”
As CLOC grows, so do the opportunities to have meaningful conversations with legal-ops executives. The market is embracing advanced technologies to support contract analytics, for example, but Seal Vice-President Steve Tucker pointed out what many of the attendees are thinking, “It must be very hard for CLOC members to separate the hype from the reality.”
“We need to continue to invest in and support CLOC and its members so that, as the market develops, they continue to have an opportunity to hear from the earlier adopters of advanced technology and hear of the real return they are enjoying from vendors,” said Tucker. He reiterated his own company’s commitment to CLOC as a forum for legal practitioners to tell their stories.
“As the unicorn growth over the last two years has proven, the legal-ops audience is craving the quality information and networking opportunities that this event provides. While it’s said that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I think this year’s CLOC attendees experienced a tier-one event and went home winners.”
CLOC is a legal ops win
After this year’s CLOC event, one thing is absolutely clear. What happened in Vegas, rather than staying in Vegas, is going to light up the entire legal-ops industry. From our vantage point, legal ops and the technologies that support them are fast evolving as smart, innovative teams seek new ways to make an impact. And making an impact is what we’re all about, not just at Seal, but all of us who develop solutions that support legal professions.