The role of a dedicated legal operations manager is an emerging one in Australia, and to a lesser extent Asia wide, though now fairly well established in larger organisations in the US. In companies where a dedicated legal ops position does not exist, the responsibilities that role encompasses generally fall on the GC’s shoulders.
The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (better known as CLOC) held its first annual Australia gathering at the Westin Sydney on September 3-4, 2018. Over a day and a half, some of the organisation’s US-based founding members and leading lights, including Connie Brenton, Senior Director of Legal Operations at NetApp, Mary O’Carroll, head of legal ops at Google and Christine Coats VP of legal operations at Oracle, as well new adopters from Australia, including CLOC Australia founder, Mick Sheehy (formerly of Telstra), shared their experience of implementing the CLOC Core Competency Legal Operations Reference Model (or ‘wheel’) of legal operations best practice, and the value of sharing non-competitive operations management learning amongst professionals in the industry.
The attending delegates were a mixture of in-house counsel, legal operations managers and directors, and those from the technology-solutions side of the industry, both from independent companies and law firms.
The CLOC ‘wheel,’, which shares elements with the In-House Development Model developed by former general counsel Evangelos Apostolou along with The In-House Community (see the In-House Development Model Workshop, Abu Dhabi), provided a framework for discussing how a legal department can improve its effectiveness and efficiency across the 12 areas of competence, moving from a ‘Foundational’ level, including Financial and Vendor Management, through to ‘Mature’ level areas, including Litigation Support and Knowledge Management.
For many attendees, the challenge was both keeping up with the array of technology-based solutions that are now available to those in the industry, be it CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management) platforms, chatbots or a host of other tools being marketed to them by new and established software companies, and increasingly, by the Big 4, and of integrating them into their legal department and the wider organisation. A presentation on Legal Department Dashboard Essentials, led by Scott Fuller, a director of legal operations at Applied Materials was a demonstration on how complex that process can be.
As noted by a number of the presenters, the key thing is to start the process of better legal operations management through collaboration and shared learning, a function for which CLOC was established.
Areas that it was suggested GCs and legal ops professionals can address first, and most easily, were the implementation of Instant NDAs, some form of workflow management, and the adoption of e-signatures.
For more information on CLOC, visit https://cloc.org/