With legal operations an increasingly powerful group, Aine Lyons, deputy general counsel of VMware and one of the founders of industry body CLOC, gives an insight into next week's event in London.
The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium is now a powerful body, originally set up in the US by Fortune 500 general counsel but now with events in Australia and London. Its London event takes place on 21-22 January. Aine Lyons shares insights on the hot issues for the group.
Global Legal Post: What are the hot topics for legal departments in 2019?
Aine Lyons: Businesses are growing in complexity and geographic scope and legal needs have grown in lockstep. Legal is no longer just a “box to check”, but rather a key advisor to the business. The rigid silo's and global borders between corporate legal departments and other company divisions are coming down and, increasingly, the focus is on technology and process improvement. The role of legal operations has become even more critical today. Analytics, metrics and automation continue to be major drivers in reforming the legal operations function. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; CyberSecurities Strategies; Legal Project Management; Various Cloud Technologies drive discussions; however, the need for basic education continues across all pillars.
GLP: How is CLOC addressing these?
AL: CLOC is focused on optimising the legal services delivery model to support the changing needs of legal businesses and on the education of legal operations professionals through best practice sharing and collaboration of its members.As the leader in helping legal operations teams to share best practices and collaborate, we are focused on bringing together today's legal operations thought leaders to drive change in the industry. As we move forward we will continue with our charter to standardise best practices that enable the legal operations function to move toward a strategic business role that embraces the entire corporation.We also provide a forum for our members to collaborate and discuss their pain points. Every day, more mature legal ops professionals are working together and disseminating actions that work across the organization to all of our members.
GLP: Are law firms responding to the challenges faced by in-house depts?
AL: The role of the GC is changing, both in corporations and in law firms, as the drive toward "operating like a business" continues. There are some proactive law firms who are beginning to embrace the tenants of legal operations and we are seeing more and more representatives from law firms attend CLOC's institutes across the globe in the US, Europe and Australia. There is significantly more interest and engagement from GC's at those firms in learning more in order to understand what their clients are looking for in a relationship.
There continues to be increasing pressure from corporate C-suites to reduce legal spend. This pressure to reduce costs and operate more efficiently has driven a shift to lower cost providers and a move to insource more legal work where possible. Proactive law firms are looking for ways to engage with and to collaborate with their in-house corporate clients through the use of tools like CLOC's Core Competencies Model.
Law firms are now competing not only with the migration of work in-house, but also to alternative legal service providers. The law firms that embrace technology and process changes are the ones who will win increased market share from their corporate counterparts. Law firms that choose to do business as usual and avoid collaboration with their in-house counterparts are the ones that will be left behind.
GLP: What, in your opinion, are the most interesting developments?
AL: CLOC membership continues to grow at a rapid pace. From 40 members just three years ago, our membership now stands at over 2,000! The role of the legal operations professional continues to evolve as the importance of the role increases to serve business needs. The legal operations professional has a unique skill set with the combination of legal, management and business savvy. As the role of legal operations becomes more mainstream, the need for standardized education, process and practices, as well as organisations like CLOC, becomes more critical. It's an exciting time to be a part of changing the future for legal operations!
GLP: What are the highlights of the event?
We are bringing together the entire legal ecosystem at the CLOC 2019 London Institute. This year we have speakers from many of the major European companies who will be presenting ways to create and maximize the value of the legal operations function. In addition to educational sessions on metrics, risk management and scaling transactional work, we have added a session for today's legal leaders to learn how to be more effective. Finally, Richard Susskind, leading author and consultant will be closing the Institute with his insights into the future of legal operations.