I was lucky enough to sit down for an open Q&A with author, change agent, and influencer, Anna Lozynski, at Malbek's annual user conference, Envision 2021. With no question considered off-limits, our chat spanned many important topics including the evolving legal profession, the use of AI in contract management, and best practices for leading a successful CLM implementation.
Here are three takeaways from our discussion.
#1 THE WORLD HAS CHANGED. SO HAS THE LEGAL PROFESSION.
Although Anna has spent her career as a Legal professional, her creativity and willingness to problem-solve have made her a strategic business partner and valuable asset to any team. The way she sees it, the modern lawyer is multi-faceted and can easily alternate between managing urgent issues in the moment and stepping back to see the big picture.
Her tips for lawyers trying to keep up with the times:
- Create a risk framework for your organization and help your executives play within that framework. Sometimes being collaborative means showing your team what is possible, rather than focusing on what isn't.
- Leave the term "non-lawyer" behind and the organizational hierarchy that comes with it. The world is divided enough, and true innovation begins with a growth mindset and the willingness to lean in.
- Evaluate and refine your digital practices—from contract management to social media. In a new virtual era, ensure your presence is strong by embracing technology, both at work and in your personal network.
#2 WE'RE BETTER TOGETHER—IN CONTRACT MANAGEMENT & BEYOND.
The audience was quick to point out that contract management isn't always accomplished in harmony. As a lawyer, it's not uncommon to go the rounds with the counterparty or tip-toe around points of friction with the sales team. When it comes to contract collaboration, Anna reminded us that we're all in this together, and more often than not, we desire the same results.
Her advice for managing common contract conflicts:
- Managing untenable counterparty requests? Tough love is the way to go. Don't be afraid to call out inefficiencies and present data points that clearly demonstrate the lack of productivity. When all else fails, let the numbers do the talking and be willing to have the hard conversations.
- Struggling to make contract management collaborative? Remember that Legal doesn't own contract management. It's a business initiative and should be treated as such. Seek to automate and simplify where you can to save time and reduce friction between teams. Anna said it best, "You can't buy time, but you can buy speed." Be willing to invest in and adopt the tools that support your ideal processes.
- Bridging the gap between Sales and Legal? Lead with empathy and ROI. It's no secret that Legal and Sales teams often speak different languages, so it's important to remind each other that you're both rooting for the same team. Be willing to meet each other where you are so you can clearly see how your contract processes (or lack thereof) are directly impacting revenue.
#3 A CLM is a business tool, not a legal tool.
Anna is known for her book, "Legally Innovative" in which she shares her experiences and advice for being a technology trailblazer in the Legal field. As she has led many teams through successful CLM implementations, we asked her to share her key best practices for managing change and introducing new enterprise solutions.
Her ingredients for a successful CLM adoption:
- Communication: Take your stakeholders on the journey with you and approach the change head-on. Stay united as a Legal team and clearly express your goals to other teams to ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Creativity: Be a human first and a lawyer second. Lean in, speak up, and encourage everyone to propose creative solutions. After all, the presence of technology won't solve complex business problems on its own. The people who are using it will.
- Fun: A positive mindset is infectious, and if other teams see Legal enjoying the process, they will want to be a part of it. When you approach contract management as a business initiative and invite other teams in to share their experiences and challenges, it creates a sense of unity that will be needed to launch the solution successfully.
For more tips and insights from Anna, listen to the full discussion here. And as Anna always says, be bold, curious, and disruptive today.