Returning home from an exciting and busy ACC Europe 2019, we’re looking back at our highlights from this year’s conference.

The ACC saw their best turnout to date in EMEA with over 450 attendees. What was really remarkable to see this year was how committed nearly everyone we spoke with was to pushing forward with technological transformation of legal departments and Legal Operations.

Mitratech had the opportunity to facilitate a best practice sharing session in the morning of day one titled The rise of (wearing the glasses of) the Chief Legal Operations Officer. We were joined by a fantastic panel of legal professionals: Mo Zain Ajaz, the Chief Operations Officer for Legal and General Counsel at National Grid; Chris Fowler, the General Counsel BT Technology and Transformation at BT ; and Elisabeth De Dobbeleer, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, EMEAR, Cisco.

Mitratech had the opportunity to facilitate a best practice sharing session in the morning of day one titled The rise of (wearing the glasses of) the Chief Legal Operations Officer. We were joined by a fantastic panel of legal professionals: Mo Zain Ajaz, the Chief Operations Officer for Legal and General Counsel at National Grid; Chris Fowler, the General Counsel BT Technology and Transformation at BT ; and Elisabeth De Dobbeleer, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, EMEAR, Cisco.

The current key focus for legal departments?

Legal Ops SaaS Impact
Get the infographic

The session was well attended and had a very interactive and engaged audience which allowed for some key topics to be raised and discussed in some detail. The first topic kicking off the session was a question put to the audience around what the key focuses were for their legal departments at the moment. The results came in and way out in the lead as joint first were ‘legal strategy’ and ‘processes’.

As a response to this outcome, Chris Fowler said “These are my biggest pain points at the moment too, my advice for the audience would be to think about the vision of the business, consider where your company will be in 5 years’ time. Spend less time and effort on reactive activity and more on proactive activity, and ensure you are aligned to the strategic direction of your business” something which the audience clearly agreed with.

Mo added that strategy is key because “the legal function should be aligning its deliverables to the purpose of the organsiation – we are here to support the business and our teams need to know their tasks are linked to helping the business achieve its goals”.  Elisabeth also added that “whilst developing a strategy, we should evolve from a Legal department inwards focus to a more customer centric focus, meaning as we are ultimately a service delivery organization, we should design our services and models with the customer (of the Legal department) in mind.”

What’s first – people, processes, or technology?

The next question put forth was “people, processes, technology – what comes first?” The clear winner of this vote was, hands down, people. This led Tim Wilson, our facilitator, to highlight something which again the whole audience strongly agreed with “with the younger generation joining organisations and finance teams they expect to see technology in place to assist them with their jobs.”

Mo added, “when implementing software to support the legal function the issues you face are often not with the technology, but with the adoption of the technology from staff and therefore effective change management is essential.”  Elisabeth agreed, however added “the engagement with those being required to use the technology from the start is key. Sometimes the best ideas come from the people who see the pain points at the front line, so creating a culture where people are listened to and recognised for their suggestions is important.”

Starting the search for suitable software

The final key topic raised came as a question from the audience. “How do you start the process of looking for suitable software for your legal department?” Chris’ response was, “you need to take into consideration the whole organisation and everyone who will be interacting with it (the software) not just the legal department. Make sure the software is clear and user friendly, with options such as pre populated forms and multiple choice selection for submitting requests to legal, this allows you to standardise requests. Also look at how you can design the software to allow for self-service, for example; providing a way for staff to be able to create their own NDA’s.”

Learn best practices for Communicating your Code of Conduct Policy in EMEA.
Read the blogpost –>

To which Elisabeth added, “It’s important to be able to have one main interface and integrate all other software/platforms to this.”  Mo mentioned that there is real value in engaging with your network to understand the technology that they have so that you can circumvent the due diligence process as you get to know the ‘real ’functionality of technology options –as an informed purchaser and you will avoid being beguiled by sale tactics of suppliers.

Social media mentions

Attendees at ACC Europe 2019 shared their encounters with Mitratech on social media, as well:

All told, it was a rousing ACC Europe conference, and we enjoyed a fascinating session with some of the stalwarts in Legal Operations. At this pace, next year will offer even greater attendance, a growing slate of and presentations, and continued energy and commitment from a burgeoning EMEA Legal Ops community.