There was, of course, one key highlight from CLOC Institute 2o18 last week that had particular significance for the ThinkSmart team. Yet, as is the norm at CLOC, I found there were many standout moments from this year’s conference that illuminated the remarkable trajectory Legal Operations is following.
1 • It’s good to be among friends, part 2
At last year’s CLOC Institute, we were extremely grateful to be among peers, friends, and colleagues who all seemed invested in each others’ success. As we said then, this is extremely different from what you find at other conferences, where you sometimes feel as though there is no connection between people at all.
I can sincerely say I’ve never had that concern at CLOC. It’s that supportive, welcoming, and helpful of a community, and its events are the same way. It’s a family affair!
2 • A good thing just keeps growing
As news organizations like Bloomberg have noted, CLOC is riding a “wave of momentum” that’s exciting to see. This is obviously due to the fact CLOC arrived as the right organization at the right time, and its growth proves there was a very real need that it and events like CLOC Institute 2018 are answering, as its founder, president and board chairman, Connie Brenton, has pointed out. Not to mention that CLOC is run by an extremely efficient group of superhumans in Connie, also of NetApp, Jeff Franke, formerly at Yahoo, Mary O’ Carroll from Google, Christine Coats of Oracle, Steve Harmon of Cisco, and Lisa Konie of Adobe.
CLOC is “exploding in membership,” Bloomberg reports, and if you’d attended the Institute conference over the past three years, you’d absolutely agree. In 2016, it saw 500 attendees; in 2017, 1,000 legal professionals showed up. For CLOC Institute 2018, attendance doubled yet again, with 2,000 people from 700 organizations filling the halls and sessions at the Bellagio. During a presentation, Connie pointed out that CLOC membership now represents $50 billion in legal spend.
CLOC’s growth surpasses borders. as well. This past January, for instance, it held its first Institute event in London, and there are now 25 regional CLOC groups, with a new one added at a rate of one per week.
3 • CLOC connections really do drive collaboration
The best “case study” about CLOC’s value I can attest to is how our relationship and eventual acquisition by Mitratech grew out of our first encounter with them at the 2016 conference, where we hit it off quite immediately with Jason Parkman and his team. That’s merely one example of the connections CLOC enables, and CLOC Institute 2018 was no exception.
Those are motivated by an authentic spirit of progress and innovation that’s infectious. Last year’s closing speaker, Mary O’Carroll, remarked upon that spirit, and it was evident everywhere once again this year. Rather than comporting themselves as competitors, attendees were invested in sharing and collaboration, because they know how vital those are to the long-term evolution of Legal Operations.
4 • A powerully relevant opening session
Is there a more timely topic than the role of women in business, and the challenges they confront? The conference’s opening session, Women in Legal Leadership Roles: The General Counsel’s Perspective, dug into this straight away.
Connie Brenton hosted the session, where Janet McCarthy, Global General Counsel of The Santa Fe Group, and Jennifer Warner, Vice President of Legal at Columbia Sportswear Company, shared their career stories and unflinchingly described some of the hurdles they’d faced, from outright sexism to pay inequality.
As Legal Operations evolves and takes on greater presence inside organizations, it can be an instrument for overcoming the assumptions, biases, and outright bad behaviors that were discussed. One example cited? The false assumption that working mothers lack the same commitment as a man or a single woman, one that’s blocked the hiring of quality candidates.
5 • Connie Brenton envisioned the impact of Legal Ops
There may not ever be a better analogy for what’s happening because of the arrival of Legal Operations than the one Connie used during her own presentation, where she analogized the arrival of Legal Ops to the dawn of electric refrigeration, where a powerful innovation had a revolutionary impact.
Technology completely remodeled the human food production and consumption chain, and Legal Ops is creating a similar transformation in the legal ecosystem.
6 • Justin Hectus? Brilliant! Part 2
We had the good fortune to share the stage with Justin of KY&L last year, and he was simply excellent. His stock is always on the rise with us and other CLOC members, as he was in fine form this time around, too. His Sunday panel, CLOC Cyber Security Initiative: Vendor Management, Threat Assessments & Security Questionnaires–Oh My! dealt with security challenges, a topic that certainly merits the kind of focus they brought to it, as Legal Ops confronts new cybersecurity concerns.
Better than that? We lassoed Justin for our Monday session, Empowering Legal Ops Evolution: How Workflow Automation Enables Process Improvement and Releases Value in Existing Technologies. which also featured our own Ben Bogin, Kevin Clem of HBR Consulting, and Chris Kraft of Mitratech. Where, of course, he and everyone else were superb.
7 • Speechifying never gets easier
See highlight #1 about the importance of being in the midst of supportive colleagues and friends. At various points on Monday the 23rd, Jason and I needed to get up in front of various audiences and make the acquisition announcement, and explain the synergies bringing us together and the possibilities lying ahead.
I’m grateful for the extremely good reception and high degree of interest we saw from all those in attendance, validating the power of the TeamConnect-TAP platform as the only end-to-end platform in the market right now.
It was exhilarating news to share, but it’s there’s always stress involved when you’re in the spotlight, whether it’s doing an onstage presentation or making an announcement like this. Unlike another highlight of the conference, which was…
8 • Sharing a session with Chris Kraft
As Chief Growth Officer at Mitratech, Chris is an expert at explaining how Legal Ops technologies can provide value and instill transformative change both inside and outside of a legal department. So it was a pleasure to present this CLOC Institute 2018 session with him, A Triple Crown for Streamlining Legal Operations.
We reviewed the dynamics driving these changes, and how leading three horses in the legal technologies race – Mitratech, iManage, and ThinkSmart – were partnered to deliver a “trifecta” for streamlining Legal Ops. Based on the reception we received, it’s exactly the winning ticket sought after by many legal professionals.
With that? I have to say I’m officially exhausted of gambling-related wordplay. At least until next year.