Having just returned from the 3rd annual ACC Legal Ops meeting in Chicago, I was struck not only by how this event continues to grow and evolve, but the focus of the event on how legal operational professionals can leverage their roles to align strategy and planning to both the evolving role of the General Counsel and the expanded opportunities of their respective organizations. As a product marketer, the conference represented a fantastic opportunity to meet many new Mitratech clients as well as reconnect with ones I have known for years. But more importantly, the event allowed me to keep up-to-date on the challenges and pain points that legal ops professionals face in their efforts to mitigate risk and reduce costs.
Legal operations represents the fastest growing role within legal departments because the general counsel’s role is expanding. The three big forces pushing this change are (1) The Public, which is more apt to scrutinize corporate activities, and the GC’s work includes protecting the organization from risk and shareholder actions, (2) The Regulators, who are creating obligations globally through myriad regulations affecting all areas of business operation and creating material financial risk, and (3) The Employees, who are increasingly willing to sue and counter-sue company policies and practices, now operate across borders in a global environment. Keeping these trends in mind, it is easy to see why the focus for legal ops was on aligning strategy and planning.
As with all conferences of this nature, there were several presentations given by vendors and consultants that were simply explaining their technology and service offerings, and what makes them different. These can be useful, but seemed to resonate a lot less with the audience than these sessions that I was able to attend and participate in:
1) Technology Planning for Legal Operations – a fantastic discussion led by Abbott Laboratories, Microsoft and Flagstar Bank that gave attendees a framework and extensive toolkit for building a pragmatic roadmap for acquiring and implementing technology based on benefit.
2) Preparing for Investigations – a really informative session that provided a checklist and process companies should take to prepare for investigations within eDiscovery and litigation support groups based on type and exposure, led by legal ops professionals at Purdue Pharma, AEP, Oracle America and Walgreens.
3) Building the Business Case for Your Return on Technology – a session, led by myself and Brian Burlew, VP Operations at Prudential Financial, that showed how to sell the business case internally for legal operations technology by calculating benefits and costs realistically. I was pleased with the level of engagement from the audience, and it felt really nice to be able to provide this group with information and tools that make their tough jobs just a little easier.
Additional takeaways from the conference are actually too many to list in this blog, but needless to say, I am excited to see continued growth in the ACC Legal Ops group and look forward to attending the event in the future.