As the old saying goes, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, unless you’re talking about the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Global Institute 2022, that is. The connections made, topics discussed, and stories shared will stick with all of us as we get back to business this week.
Aside from the swanky happy hours and after-hours parties, a buzz spanned the exhibit hall as attendees caught up with old colleagues, formed new connections, and were introduced to industry solution providers. If you were lucky enough to be a fly on the wall as the event unfolded, you’ve surely left with a deeper understanding of the vast legal tech landscape and the function leading the legal evolution—legal operations.
Though it’s difficult to sum up such an eventful few days, we’ve rounded up our three key takeaways from the event:
#1: Legal operations has a seat at the strategy table
Whether you’re new to the legal tech industry or consider yourself a veteran, there’s no denying that legal operations teams have played a large role in redefining the corporate legal department as a value creator rather than a cost center. However, today’s legal ops professionals are equipping not only their law-practicing colleagues, but also vendors and internal partners such as Procurement and Finance teams with better strategic planning, processes, and technologies so they can all deliver maximum value to the organization in harmony.
In our CLOC session, “Agents of Change: Leveling Up Legal Operations to Maximize Business Value”, we discussed the ever-changing legal ops maturity model. Though there are many stages and the growth path for a legal ops function is not linear, there seems to be collective agreement that the north star for many legal ops teams is providing timely and relevant insights that change business behaviors, processes, and mindsets for the better.
#2:Technology ecosystems are continuing to expand, but seamless integrations are a must.
As vendors and solution providers gathered in the exhibit hall to greet attendees, there was no shortage of passionate conversations. At every turn, product demonstrations were being presented, business challenges were being shared, and initial partnerships began to form. Although many came to the conference with an understanding that most organizations already have a collection of existing business systems and applications, professionals are still on the hunt for additional or better tools that support their vision for an integrated technology ecosystem.
Next to “What makes your solution different from all of the others?”, the next most frequently asked question had to have been, "Does your solution integrate with my (CRM), (ERP), (Document management system), etc? As legal ops professionals continue to be stewards of data at their organizations, seamless integrations with all business systems will continue to be a must.
#3:Sunken implementation costs are resulting in DRAWN-OUT partnerships and cautious technology evaluations.
If you were lucky enough to demonstrate your solution at CLOC this year like us, you probably noticed pretty quickly that this was not your audience’s first rodeo. They may have prefaced the conversation with a technical question or a horror story about a never-ending implementation process they have had to endure, making it known quickly that this may be the second or third solution of its kind that their organization has evaluated or selected. With the understanding that many organizations have been down this road before, it was interesting to see how many solution providers (us included), spent a lot of time addressing the implementation experience.
But not everyone is ready to make the switch quite yet, even if their chosen solution isn’t quite meeting their needs. The sunken costs seem to be the tie between an organization and a solution that has become shelfware, making it even more difficult to take the leap to a new vendor. This only highlights the emerging trend we’re seeing in the space that suggests a vendor's largest competitive advantage is the speed and effectiveness of their implementation process. Most of the features buyers are interested in have become table stakes, and are offered with almost every solution of its kind. What organizations want is a partner, not just a platform, that will guide them on a path to sustainable value and ROI.
Thank you to everyone who connected with the Malbek team last week! In case you missed it, we invite you to check out our Legal Operations Resource Kit where you’ll find helpful resources and best practices for aligning legal operations with the priorities of your organization.