Filling in the Gaps for Procurement Contracting

Published on: 12/22/21

 

 

For Envision 2021, we brought together five contract experts, Steph Corey - Co-founder of UpLevels Ops, Lucy Bassli - Founder and Principal at InnoLaw Group, Colin McCarthy - CEO and Founder of Legal Operators, Jason Smith - Chair, Corporate Counsel Section of the State Bar of Texas, and Teju Deshpande - Principal of Deloitte’s Legal Business Services practice, to tackle the biggest questions in contract management. The debate was intense, flags were thrown, and words did fly! The debate begins with "process": what it is and why its so important for your success. Then, the game gets heated with a "discussion" of the term non-lawyer and the impacts the lawyer vs. non-lawyer debate has. The conversation then shifts to how to continually improve your process with technology and innovation. Finally, the panel discuss the need for community in the contract management space and why change is needed to help include others and expand viewpoints. So, grab a glass of wine, and let's talk contracts!

 

 

It's not necessarily a function of small versus large organizations, but it's the experiences that you have.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -Teju Deshpande

Intro:
Welcome to the Contract Lens Podcast brought to you by Malbek. In this podcast, we have conversations with contract management thought leaders and practitioners about everything contracts and its ecosystem. Today's episode is part of our Envision live series, during which we explore insights uncovered at our annual user conference. This keynote session brought together five legal tech powerhouses, Steph Corey, co-founder of UpLevel Ops, Lucy Bassli, founder and principal at InnoLaw Group, Colin McCarthy, CEO and founder of Legal Operators, Jason Smith, Chair, Corporate Council Section of the State Bar of Texas, and Teju Deshpande, principle of Deloitte's Legal Business Services practice. The panel debates some of the hottest topics in legal tech and uncovers with the future of CLM promises. So now, it's time to relax, grab a glass of wine and let's talk contracts.

Gary:
Okay. My name is Gary Zuder, like I said, I lead sales team here at Malbek, and I am privileged and very excited to host the first session of the second day of the Envision conference called the contract management power panel and you'll know why I call it a power panel in a minute. The objective of this session is to offer what I call a subtle combination of entertainment and contract management thought leadership that you can actually use. But before I offer introductions, I thought I would kick things off with a little bit of a sports analogy.

Gary:
So this is interesting, for those of you who do watch sports, you've probably heard the expression, "Just let them play." The idea behind that is that the referees shouldn't be noticed, that it should be all about the stars in the field. We have a panel today with varied experiences from engineering, legal ops practitioners, practicing attorneys, and in some instances, a combination of them.

Gary:
So I can't possibly give full bios, but I will walk you through each person and offer highlights so everyone can appreciate the richness of this power panel. Starting from the left, it feels like a 49ers introduction, we have Teju Deshpande, currently a principal at Deloitte within Legal Business Services. Teju has spent over 25 years in the technology and legal services industry, helping improve effectiveness and efficiency through process technology and data optimization. Teju, if you can just wave and say hello?

Teju:
Hi, everyone. Pleasure to be here.

Gary:
Awesome. Thank you, Teju. Next, we have Colin McCarthy, CEO and founder of Legal Operators. Colin is a visionary in this space and what we call a community leader. His mission is to change the face of legal ops. Colin.

Colin:
Hey, everybody. Great to be here, delighted to be here with Malbek this morning.

Gary:
Thank you, sir. And moving to the right past me we have Stephanie Corey, co-founder and general partner of Uplevel Ops, a consulting firm specializing in providing services for in-house legal departments and law firms. And before that, worked in senior legal ops positions, little known company called HP, of course, we all know, and Flex, another multi-billion dollar organization. And in addition, Stephanie is a co-founder of CLOC, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. Stephanie.

Steph:
Hi, there. I love how you have me arguing. What does that say about me?

Gary:
You've only begun today, Stephanie. You've only begun. Thanks for joining, Stephanie. And next we have Lucy Bassli, an attorney, author of The Simple Guide to Legal Innovation and just recently, CLM Simplified. But Lucy is a former assistant attorney general of legal ops and contracting at Microsoft where she worked for many years, and she's also the founder of principal at InnoLaw Group, helping law firm modernize the practice of law. Love that phrase.

Gary:
And consulting with corporate legal departments as well in legal operations, specializing in all things contracting. And yes, I'm going to use a very tired phrase, last but not least, Jason Smith. Jason is a Texas attorney who has spend his career assisting legal professionals with the use and development of legal technology in the practice of law. He's a legal tech guru with years of hands on practical experience and the chair of the State Bar of Texas Corporate Council Section. Jason.

Jason:
Hey, everybody.

Gary:
Well, thank you all for being here today, we sincerely appreciate it. Now we move on to the ground rules. It's okay to speak out of turn, it's okay to interrupt, to call me out, it's okay for me to call you out. After the play, make sure you toss the ball back to me, please don't throw it. And yes, I have a flag, if I need it, I will throw it, but I don't think I need to because you all are lovely people, I know you all very well. So again, thank you for this opportunity here.

Gary:
So that's enough of me, but I had to set the context and offer the intros, of course. But in just one word what comes to mind when you think legal operations in 2022? So this is a bit of a futuristic question, typically one you'd end with, but I wanted to kind of see where everybody's head was. Jason, I see you on my screen. I don't know why, but you just popped up right there in front of me. So what can you comment about process, but in the year 2022, what does that mean to you?

Jason:
See, I was sitting here writing down values. So of course you threw me the other way.

Gary:
That's my job.

Jason:
So I will say that that process is part of the value, let me segue it that way. And the interesting thing about this is that legal is having to sort of undergo this transformation of its process to really become a business operation. And we've seen it over the last few years where legal has been forced to or tried to operate like other businesses, whether that was easy or difficult for the players to be in that space. I think process is first and foremost, the most important thing to focus on above all else related to just the general operations of a law department, because if you don't get that part right, nothing else falls in place.

Gary:
Colin, what say you about that? Thank you, Jason.

Colin:
Well, I think Jason nailed this. What I say about processes, it's your number one pillar in legal operators. When I say a process like when you're building out a function in legal operations, that should be your number one thing to look at. How does legal receive information? How does it take information from outside council? How does it get the data points to make the decisions moving forward and how do you structure change management? And it's all about collecting information, building process, asking the right questions, setting up whether it's your technology, there's a different process for everything, but it's all intertwined.

Lucy:
Gary, can I throw in a flag? Or only you are allowed to do that?

Gary:
I would love it. If you were to throw a flag, I would love that.

Lucy:
I want to do this because I didn't get my time to say hello. So I feel like I'm at a deficit of words and that can't be because I got so many of them-

Gary:
That was on purpose, Lucy. I'll make up of that.

Lucy:
... always public. I got to say people, like a people process tools, every day, day in, day out, it is the change management of the human behavior of our fellow legal professionals. I'll just call us out. It is just super, super, super hard to get the change. Even the most well intended ones that the ones who want change, they want to be efficient, they want operation wise, they want technology, they really want to do things.

Lucy:
That change is super hard the minute you touch the way they do their core day job, and legal ops, we deal with some of the operational underlining of the departments, it's a little easier to change. Billing, invoicing, a little bit easier, but how they talk to their law firms, what they say, hard. Contracting, I might give you a nice new repository, fine, but the words I put on the four corners of that document, how I touch those words, what I do with them, really hard to change. So really I think there is an evolution that has to happen in the legal profession of how we embrace modernization and change or else legal ops is going to continue to have that same uphill battle.

Jason:
Can I jump in and ask, Lucy, why is it so hard to change?

Lucy:
So we're conditioned differently, first of all, from law school. So if we just focus on the legal professional, the attorneys inside the law departments, that still are the decision makers. As powerful and as strategic as legal operations leaders are becoming and evolving, the decision makers are going to be the GC level or their deputies.

Lucy:
So those leaders have been conditioned and trained to avoid all risk. And operationalizing presents risk, so I'm not even talking about substantive legal risk, I'm talking about how they do their job, letting go of work, handing off work, using technology for portions of the work, using alternative resourcing for portions of the work. Anything that has to do with letting go of that control and comfort that they've mitigated the risk their own way, it's a challenge.

Lucy:
And it's a condition, it's how we're trained, how we're conditioned. So it's a direct conflict with how we're taught starting from law school, anybody who's gone through the law firm, boom, that's an indoctrination anti efficiency. So you really are undoing core conditioning that's been happening for decades.

Jason:
And I think what Lucy is really digging into... Throwing the flag.

Gary:
Oh, no. I'm flagging. Forget it. No, I have to go to Stephanie. Jason, I'll get to you. But she talked about people, what's so fascinating about this, no one mentioned technology, fascinating kind of thing. Somebody mentioned process moving forward, Stephanie, talk about people, please. We're going to that triangle, people process technology with data driven. We're going to get to data, don't worry. I have a lot of things that you all sit around data, but Stephanie, can you talk about the people for a moment to do the right work? Can you just expand upon that?

Steph:
Yeah. I just want to say that Lucy and I are having a mind meld this morning, I guess, because I just said that and Lucy interjected, but it really is about when you look at the people process technology piece of it, I think when I first started in law 20 something years ago when I was 10 or 11 years old, we really saw legal departments really outsourcing at the highest level.

Steph:
And that's an expensive proposition for legal departments because you have internal attorneys which are expensive and you're sending work to law firms, which is very, very expensive. And there were really only a couple of positions in legal departments. You had your lawyers and a variety of seniority within that, and then you had paralegals, a handful, and admins. And so now we see that... By the way, can you guys hear me okay?

Gary:
Yeah.

Steph:
I'm hearing a little bit of feedback. I just want to make sure I sound okay. Okay. Now we see it happening at all different levels where we're really analyzing who is doing this work and should they be, is this legal work, should the legal department even be looking at this? Which is what Lucy was alluding to or talking about directly and really looking at doing roles and responsibilities.

Steph:
I think that's such a critical piece of this because I can't tell you... Lucy talked about handing work off, it is so hard to get lawyers to understand, no, you shouldn't be formatting documents and correcting grammar. And I understand that it looks like crap, and you don't want it to go out of the company looking the way it does, but we shouldn't be paying a lawyer to do this.

Steph:
That's a different issue, if another department like HR and marketing under or whatever, they need to get their act in order, it's a discussion that needs to happen at the executive level and legal needs to be focusing on legal issues. So all of that happens through intake. What is it that you want legal to look at? It can't be everything. What are the legal issues in this contract?

Steph:
And then making sure that the right legal levels within the law department are looking at that. And so if we can actually outsource at the lower levels, a lot of the more mundane, lower risk work, you can pull work from outside council in house. And that does a bunch of things. First of all, it gets the boring... I'm sorry to say that, but it kind of gets the boring work off the attorney's plates to begin with.

Steph:
They're pulling in more strategic work, which is great for the company, because you have more strategic work being done in house, you keep that institutional knowledge inside. It makes their jobs a lot more fun and interesting and strategic, and it makes the total package of law less expensive. So it does all of those things. So you've got to make sure that you've got the right people doing the right things.

Gary:
Thank you, Steph. I was just going to say absolutely Teju.

Teju:
No, I think that the people piece needs another lens, which is how interconnected are you with other business operations? Because sometimes legal tends to sort of live in its own silo. I need my tools, I need my contracting system, I need to this way to be efficient, which causes a lot of inefficiencies in the overall process. So you do need process towards, but you need the right people to be processed towards, I think.

Gary:
And, Teju, you set up something perfectly and, Jason, Lucy, you know where I'm going with this, lawyer, non-lawyer, I have to go there because Gartner even uses the term. By 2025 organizations will replace 20% of generous lawyers with non-lawyer staff and technology. So I'm going to throw that just up in the air about lawyers, non lawyers. What are we trying to say? I know we're trying to talk about some of the comments I think in chat made a comment about what we're going to do to disperse the work appropriately via the right process? So whoever wants to take that jump right in.

Jason:
So I'm going to do a screenshot of Lucy's face right now and title this, if looks could kill.

Lucy:
It just can't give me my poker face, is it working?

Jason:
And I love this because I joke about it and the lawyer versus non-lawyer in using the term non-lawyer and the reason I think it comes about, and the reason that we lawyers sometimes use that is to designate between the things that are considered practice of law. Because if somebody does not have a law license and they do those activities, it's considered unauthorized practice of law.

Jason:
And that's sort of the third rail right now that I think, especially in the US, because of our regulatory scheme, hinders a lot of the process and innovation in legal, because there's a lot of this need of figuring out and unbundling those legal services. And a lot of times they haven't been unbundled, and so it's been just sort of a big chunk of work. And because there looks like there's some legal work in there, the lawyers wrap their arms around the whole thing.

Jason:
Once you start unbundling those things and breaking them down into their elements, you realize there are some activities that are purely practice of law activities. And then there's a whole bunch of other stuff that's really business and process and finance and sales and other things. And I think contract management is really sort of ground zero for this very thing. And that's why we're seeing a lot of change happening, or at least a lot of push in the contract management space.

Jason:
Because when you look at a contract and you realize the process starts outside of legal and moves outside of legal and then bounces into legal and then bounces out of legal, it's hard to really sit down and say, okay, the contract process is a legal process or a non-legal process because it's got elements of both, but at the end of the day, the lawyers look at the contracts and say, "The contract is a legal document and there are legal implications to the organization based on what's within those four corners."

Jason:
And so sometimes you have lawyers looking at that saying, "I can't have the non-lawyers doing a bunch of stuff in this legal document." So I just, because I use the lawyer non-lawyer because I know it rows Lucy up a lot, but I think there's some substance behind that designation.

Lucy:
Okay. So first let me start by saying some of my best friends are non lawyers. Now, I mean, look, the practice law, that's the ivory tower we hide behind, it's our sword and it's our shield, and I will be the first to admit. And by the way to be clear, I am still licensed in the US, my company is set up as a law firm intentionally because I'll poke any bear out there that asks me what I do in my day job every day.

Lucy:
And is it really the practice of law? Is it consulting? By responding that I spent 13 years in-house and 99% of which I did was probably advising and consulting my internal clients, not on the law necessarily. So yeah, 1%, absolutely, maybe 5%, depends on the day and the nature of the deal. Commercial contracting is the perfect place, the perfect place to let go of this designation of the practice of law.

Lucy:
In house commercial contracting, there's a teeny tiny portion that needs to be done by an attorney because they're complicated legal principles that are affecting the words that have to be used on paper. The rest of it, it just doesn't require lawyers, that's why some of the best contract negotiators are not lawyers. Or if they have some dusty old JD, they only got it because they felt they have to have something to show just in case anybody asks.

Lucy:
So it's another one of these evolutionary mind shift things that simply has to happen and it'll just take time. So right now it's an annoying phrase because it doesn't feel right, I hate the way it makes lawyers look every time they say it. So it just doesn't feel right, it's just not inclusive. Let's throw DNI out there, it's simply not inclusive, it's not mutually respectful, it doesn't demonstrate value.

Lucy:
I couldn't have gotten anything done in all the things that I was able to accomplish that are perceived to be successful without amazing operations managers, contracts managers, program managers. I literally couldn't have gotten any of the claims to fame and they're, they're not mine alone. So it's just silly and it feels old, it feels archaic. It points out to why we're having so much trouble making progress in anything we want to call legal ops, if we keep using words like that.

Gary:
Teju, I have a question for you based, if I may, on what Lucy said, CLM Simplified tip number 38, Lucy, if you have an MRIs, let me know. But basically you talk about so much automation taking over lawyers' jobs and it makes for great, it could be to read the articles, but it's pure nonsense. So there's another statement that says AI won't replace lawyers, but lawyers who don't use AI will be replaced. So Teju, if you want to have a comment on the previous topic, perfect, but what do you think of automation taking over lawyers' jobs and what kind of adaptation is really behind the statement there in terms of how things are changing?

Teju:
No, and it's interesting. I wanted to talk about what Lucy said, which is true. And to use her language, I do have a lot of non-engineer friends that I love and respect as well, if you were to go down that path. And the reason I say this is when you put lawyers in a box, you are saying they can only do legal work. Many of the lawyers I've met are brilliant strategists, they're technology savvy, they are process geeks.

Teju:
But when you put them in a "you are a lawyer" and therefore non-lawyers can only do all of these other things is very limiting. With said, coming to AI, I have a philosophy around efficiency and effectiveness. I don't know that I want people to be efficient. I think processes and technologies are to be efficient, to make people effective. And AI in my mind allows people to be more effective, and to use Steph's words, to take the mundane out of the day-to-day.

Teju:
So you can actually focus on insights and data and what to do strategically with that information is really how you want to set up lawyers. So will AI take away lawyers' jobs or any other jobs? I don't think so. Will it add more ancillary jobs? 100%. Now of course we can get into, which I think Jason would love to opine on, is the risk of rogue AI. And there is a risk of rogue AI that we should absolutely talk about.

Gary:
Go ahead, Jason.

Jason:
Sorry. And that's what going back to that quote that you said that AI is not going to replace lawyers, but lawyers who leverage AI are going to replace those who don't. And I think that really kind of sums up the idea of this sort of efficiency. And not even though you see in the movies and maybe even there's a few use cases out there about AI doing things, I don't know any lawyer that's ever going to sit down and actually trust an AI algorithm to do their job for them or a company that's going to trust AI to do these legal work for them.

Jason:
They're still always going to want some sort of human touch, but that AI can reduce the amount of that human touch that may be needed, or that again, mundane routine administrative work. And if they can do that, they can make the lawyer more affect and therefore we circle it all the way back to value.

Gary:
Well, I'm going to hop around a little bit. Thanks for that, Jason, Stephanie, this one's coming to you based on something that Teju has said in the past. So I had a neighbor growing up and she was well into her 90s, and she always would look at me and say, "Nothing stays the same." So when talking to customers, Teju talks about having a continuous optimization mindset, things aren't projects. So can you comment on what Teju might have meant by that, in your opinion?

Steph:
Yeah. I mean, I always when I talk to legal teams, when I'm doing consulting, a lot of times general counsels, when I'm saying, "Okay you guys really do need to have somebody in place who's running this for you." And it can't be a lawyer 10% of the time trying to implement a CLM program or something. That just doesn't work, they won't move the needle. When we do an assessment and when we give them the roadmap and they say, "Okay, we're going to try to do this internally without somebody doing this, somebody who's going to own the whole thing."

Steph:
I say, "Okay, well, I'll talk to you in six months when you haven't moved the needle at all and then we'll see what happens." And then they say, "Okay, fine. Well, we'll hire somebody. Can it be just for a year?" It'll take a year to get all this stuff in place or two years, and then we can just redeploy them, do something else with them. And how I try to explain it is it's like the golden gate bridge, when you finish painting the one end, you got to start all the way over again at the beginning.

Steph:
Everything does change, even good things change. So your neighbor was absolutely right, Gary. This too shall pass, whether it's good or bad. And so that is the only thing we can guarantee that change is going to occur. And so when two years from now, we could have the best technology, cleaned up processes, we harmonized templates, we did everything we need to do, we have the right people doing the right work, et cetera. But how about two years from now? Is there new technology we need to be looking at? Did the business change?

Steph:
We need to look at our processes again, are the people within that puzzle changing and so we need to swap out pieces, et cetera? So it's continuous. You constantly, once you finish a whole program, you have to maybe you wait a little while, but eventually you're going to have to look at it again and start from scratch and make sure that it's as efficient as possible. And again, you have the right people doing the right things, you've got the technology in place, et cetera. So this does not end for better, for worse.

Gary:
Indeed. And while we're constantly recalibrating internally, externally, there are a lot of factors as well. So Colin talks about themes of community collaboration, content, and connection that I talked about earlier, but I want to hone in on the community aspect. It seems like we had a perfect storm in a good way. Maybe a good one, the proliferation of the legal ops space working from home and a bunch of new legal technologies. So, Lucy, can you talk about the importance of networking and community when all this change is happening externally for your internal best practices and inspiration?

Lucy:
Absolutely. So because our community of people, those of us who live in this legal operations in the technology world, we're used to engaging in different ways. So I think what we're seeing now is the attorneys, especially, who are thirsty and hungry for information are realizing that they have to take to LinkedIn for networking. I mean, that's obviously been kind of an explosive change, I think, for a lot of legal professionals who it was always kind of this, "Yeah. I'm on LinkedIn."

Lucy:
But I feel like there's been a bit more of an urgency around it. I know just from some of the new contexts that have reached out to me, that you suddenly are kind of finding each other. And LinkedIn's obviously just one example, but I think, probably, it's still the main one for legal professionals. So without that network, without the community, without being comfortable and confident enough to reach out and ask some questions about things you're not familiar with, it's very hard to make progress in this space, especially in-house lawyers live in a bubble, even if it's a tiny bubble, tiny company or ginormous bubbles like the ones that Steph and I spent time in.

Lucy:
We live in our bubbles and it's very hard to know what's going on outside and what kind of normal should be. So a lot of what we see as a first step into that networking and building a community is getting sanity checks, it's getting a little bit of kind of awareness of what's going on. And I'm sure, Steph, you'll attest to this, we always say half of what we do is therapy. I always start every meet and greet with, "It's okay. Nobody can find their contracts. It's not just you."

Lucy:
Literally just yesterday, same speech, same sentence where people feel a little sheepish going, "I can't believe that's an amazing company and I can't find my contract." Somebody would ask Jason, "What do you do when you can't find it?" I'm like, "You got to ask the other side." And the beauty is when they can't find it, then all level playing field. Suddenly you're like, "I'm terrible at this." So that community helps a lot to make progress, not just because you're learning tactics and who do you use? How do you use? Give me some tips.

Lucy:
And that's obviously how CLOC was born. I mean, that's what Steph saw a million years ago was needed, but it really helps open the door and let people in safely to know that they're not alone, it's a little bit more inviting suddenly. Whereas before I was still like legal ops is that thing. I'm a lawyer, I don't know what that is. I feel like there's a melding that's happening, which is critical that has to happen.

Gary:
I like what you said there. Go ahead. I wanted Colin's take on this as well, but go ahead, Teju.

Colin:
That'd be good.

Teju:
Yeah, there's one other thing that I wanted to talk about in terms of community. And I wanted to share a client example, which I thought was fascinating. A lot of legal ops legal department folks reach into their own communities, whether it's CLOC or Legal Operations. But I had a client who said, "I'm going to walk a mile in my client's shoes." They attended Salesforce as a conference, so they attended a procurement conference.

Teju:
And I think that helped because you're not getting advice and guidance from people who are exactly like you, but are actually dealing with a whole nother set of processes and challenges that help you think about the way you do your work slightly differently. So I thought that was an interesting way to build community within the organization and be part of a larger, what you would call business operations team as opposed to legal operations, which is necessary, but to expand your horizons a little bit. But, Colin, over to you.

Colin:
Perfect.

Gary:
An empathetic community approach. Colin, please.

Colin:
So I think on four questions sounds like going back to number one, anybody who used that term non-attorney is a fucking jack ass, in my opinion, it's just demeaning term. Moving on from that really quickly, I would say with the AI aspect, it's absolutely going to take attorney's jobs and it should, it's like it's a more efficient. Attorney's going to neither get revolved and reeducated. Now moving on to the AI thing, in the next decade, I think contracts is going to be broken, the likes of Malbek coming out right now, breaking the back end contracts, 90% of the risk in the money and obligations being on the backend.

Colin:
Malbek's already solving for that, it's like, this is powerful, AI is actually working. Number one and then community, what is community? You're looking at CLOC, you're looking at ASCC, these are relics, they've been in the industry forever. They've added value up to this point, but community is a fluid thing. Nobody owns community.

Colin:
So I would say if you're going to start the community, if you're going to be in a community it's about adding value to other people. It's not about yourself, it isn't about propping yourself up, it's about building a message and then learning value to people. I'd say, Teju, 100% agree with you on that as well. With that over and out.

Gary:
Thanks, Colin. Appreciate it. And again, I want to talk about something, Colin, that you hosted as well that's a very important topic. I actually listened to one of the podcasts or actually YouTube videos around diversity matters empowering change. And something that I took away from that especially is that it's not just about the numbers, it's not just about recruiting that's the problem, that's just stats. It's more about retention and advancement. And again, I found out that you can look at it as an analogy again with sports where, okay, you get someone on the team, okay, they get to play, but what about the strategic positions that keep-

Colin:
Can I tell you my experience with that?

Gary:
Yeah.

Colin:
It's like for every organization I worked in, leaders, they would pay at lip service to this. They would check your box and diversity and empowerment and it would just do it. And every time you confront them with the data, it was just another exercise that was done year after year, the year survey in place, this has been running 15 years. What has been achieved? There's absolutely not been achieved with this, it's just like, hey, we'll make decisions internally, and just take another box, but what does it do to the landscape?

Colin:
With operation and power and change, we went out to the top 200 law firms in the United States and we said, "Give us your data. Let's be accountable, be transferable, and we're going to make this data available to everybody in legal apps." I don't care if you're with ACC, CLOC or anybody else, you can come show up, get this information. Top 200 firms said, "Go upon sand." So it's like, we'll make this client driven.

Colin:
So we get some of the biggest organizations on planet earth. And then we go by can say, "We want this data. We're making firm wide available to everybody in legal operations." So now we can splice up this data and actually make them accountable and ask them the right questions. I partner with a company called JusticeBid, a minority owned firm. And then we went out there and we're getting this data right now and flushing it out to the community. It has not been done before, we're willing to do it.

Colin:
If we commit to an initiative with legal operators, it's going to have teeth on it and it's going to affect your change. That's what we're going to do and we're standing behind like this initiative with indeed, and actually solving something. And you can probably hear my passion about this because I want to actually accomplish something with this because there's enough lip service, there's a lot of people profiting off this and it's like this information should be readily available to every in-house team.

Colin:
And plus we can turn the fingers on them eventually and do the exact same thing, if they're checking the box, asking the questions. Without information, imagine the most powerful minds in this country working in these law firms, if they put their mind to it for five minutes to solve this puzzle, let's solve the puzzle, but they're not putting their minds to it. They're just like, turn the blind eye. It's like, take another box. And if that's your mind in life, you don't have at it, but it's like if I can affect you at a tiny little bit by leaning in and doing something different, I will.

Lucy:
But, Colin, you said a very important point. I mean, it's the driver's money, the driver's revenue. And so without spending another whole hour on law firm business models being fundamentally broken, that is the core issue. So sharing information, anything for the greater good that will help potentially lower the amount of time that law firms get to spend, which means get to charge, is a core root problem.

Lucy:
That is a core of their billable hours, the root cause of the bad behaviors that we're seeing in the law firm engagement. I will add though, to be a little controversial as well, what we're seeing right now in legal tech, the chase for money, the VC frenzy, that's happening in this beloved space of CLM back to, I think, where you were saying also about what people do know and don't know and what they spend their time on.

Lucy:
There's an expert popping up every minute, nevermind a new technology popping up every minute, competing with those who are trying to do good and right, who have leaders who actually care about the work, the space, the content, delivering real value. And I mean, it is a bit of a soapbox and I'm not going to shed a tear over CLM or anything, but it's annoying as hell for people who know the space who see it black and white clear as day, know how to make progress and are watching a bunch of noise, a bunch of noise.

Lucy:
So I say, let's first start with what we can control in the operations community and let's try to filter out the noise. I mean, it's overwhelming all of the commercial in-house legal teams who are hungry for change and interested in change are completely overwhelmed by the choices, they're completely oversold on a regular basis, they get irritated, they blame the technology. It's a vicious cycle and I want to say I'm afraid we're at the beginning of the cycle. Because we started 10 years ago with kind of some of the big CLM systems, which we all know that there was a smaller subset of companies that were buying-

Colin:
I got the answer for them. Just get Malbek.

Lucy:
It's the right, yeah. Look, the way they're going to get Malbek, and Malbek's got to do right.

Colin:
No, but let's be honest.

Lucy:
I think they are.

Colin:
If [cross talk 00:36:06].

Lucy:
But it's got to win on substance, you can't win on shiny demos anymore, you just can't. That worked for a while, clients are getting more sophist, they're asking smarter questions and if they're not, well, then, they should call some of us to help them because you got to ask smart questions.

Gary:
I got to tell you, Colin, I promise subtle entertainment, I over delivered, this is full blown entertainment.

Colin:
Let's be honest.

Gary:
Continue.

Colin:
Some people are signing up right now as we speak. And they don't realize they need a back pack full of cash before they go in there, that actually hire two software engineers to help them put six buttons in that's going to cost them $100,000. They don't rely is that they're being sold something and then when get in there, I've implemented systems three time enterprise and it was the same deal. Every single time. You got to friends with software engineers, and that's a hard thing to do.

Lucy:
Which is terrible. The backpack they need, I don't think they need engineers. The systems are great, systems like Malbek are easy to implement. They don't need engineers, what they need is a backpack full of process content, they need the right people, they need clean templates, they need to understand that there's a difference between a contract template, the way lawyers think of it and a workflow template, the way companies like Malbek think about it, and need to think about it.

Lucy:
There's a complete disconnect between the sellers and the buyers and smart companies, and Malbek's really trying, they do the substantive implementation and they help. And that's great. Not all of them are doing that. And so that's why I say Malbek will win on successful implementations because we want to see a year down the road, who's still with them, who's actually using them? I want to see consumption numbers, I don't want to see revenues as a sign of success. I want to go a year later-

Colin:
I would say, Malbek will win on data. From what I've seen Malbek, on the Salesforce implementation, they'll win, but they'll also win on the data, data, data, every single time because we have right now, we're looking across the landscape of data, there's a big blind spot in that data. Nobody knows how to find 90% of their money and obligations on the back end, Malbek can.

Steph:
So one thing I just want to interject, sorry, Gary, I'm going to be the argumentative cartoon that you made me earlier, but no, we want to really hammer to that this stuff is what needs to be done before you start implementing a tool or selecting a tool. So often we get called into clients, they've already selected the tool, they've already signed the contract and now they want help from us. And we're like, "I wish you called us three, four or five months ago because there's so much work that you need to do to get ready in order to..."

Steph:
You didn't do any of the readiness work, and so now you're going to be paying for a tool and sitting on it for three or four months before you can even begin to do the implementation. And so it's to tie all of this together, that people process stuff really needs to happen before you can implement the tool. And they're inextricable parts of one another, you can't do one thing without the other. So I just wanted to make sure that I get that.

Teju:
And I want to add one more thing. I agree with Colin about engineering or engineers, not everything is simple or has to be, but it doesn't have to be complicated. I think there's a difference between complexity and being complicated. And I think if we design systems that can handle complexity, you're not going to be able to get around designing a no code system that works across the enterprise. I mean, that's just setting the wrong expectations to say, "I really want to build a new house, but all I need is a needle and a hammer." I just don't think it's realistic and, and people can be setting those expectations for enterprise rollouts.

Gary:
A great preparedness. And I didn't get to many of the things that you all have said in previous blogs, but preparedness is absolutely one of those. And I was going to bail on the slide to be candid, but you know what? I can't. I just need to go very, very quickly, but I'd like every ready to go and tell me for the super panel, what superpower you would do and why? Just the cleans of power for the last 10 or so minutes. Colin.

Colin:
What's that?

Gary:
Superpower for the power panel, which one of these would you like to do and why, if you had a superpower?

Colin:
Not being invisible, I don't like that.

Teju:
I would like to read mine.

Steph:
You would?

Jason:
No, no.

Steph:
That's terrible.

Jason:
That is dangerous. I do not want to know what in some people's minds and if I have that ability-

Steph:
I agree. It's none of my business.

Jason:
And I already talked to animals. I already talked to animals. I didn't know that was actually superpower. Now the question is, can I understand or can they talk back to me? I think would be the superpower, but talking to the animals, I do it all the time.

Gary:
Well, Jason, from your post, you said eating tacos and fluency and sarcasm was your superpower. That's what you said.

Jason:
That's absolutely right, and I challenge anybody to challenge that.

Steph:
I mean, it has to be flying, though, isn't that the top superpower?

Lucy:
I think everybody wants to fly.
Steph:
Yeah. I live in the Bay Area. Traffic here is a nightmare, as long as I could bring my stuff with me and if I could fly, oh, that would be amazing.

Jason:
I guess, if it just meant avoiding the airlines and TSA, then absolutely.

Steph:
Right. And no, reading people's minds, I don't want to know what's in anybody else's mind.

Lucy:
Although super human strengths sounds kind of cool. And you're five feet tall and walk into a meaningful dudes that are 60 plus, you're like, "Listen, you." But then to be able to lift the table and go, "Past tense."

Jason:
But, Lucy, you can only say that if you have an Irish accent, otherwise it's rude.

Lucy:
Right.

Gary:
Precisely.

Steph:
Being a non-lawyer I'd love the super human strength, I'm good.

Gary:
I got the flag now.

Jason:
You got the flag.

Gary:
Yeah. So I want to talk about the general counsel for a moment as it relates to the entire legal operations department. So Bloomberg Law talked about how GCs can evolve from lawyer in the room to strategic business partner. And Stephanie, you talked to new GCs, GC is a startup company, who don't yet have the big teams that they're looking to grow. They know what legal hops is, they've been reading about it, but let's talk about the role of the general counsel and how that's changing.

Gary:
If you just Google role of the general counsel, they're talking about changing the title itself. So I hope we can comment first, I'm just going to throw it out there for the last 10 minutes on what you're hearing about this shift in strategic involvement from the general counsel and the entire legal operations team?

Steph:
Yeah. I mean, one thing that I'm seeing that I think is so exciting is that the legal departments and the GCs who are running these legal departments from smaller companies are way more strategic and innovative than the bigger companies and maybe that's controversial, and if I had an Irish accent, it would sound less controversial. But what I see is, we work with companies of all sizes, Lucy and I came from giant companies, but it's the companies from these 20 and under legal departments where the GC is, first of all, they're usually the first lawyer hired.

Steph:
They're partnering very, very closely with all the other business executives. So maybe it's a function of maybe they're just they are younger and hipper and just are aware of the fact that they need to be more strategic business partners versus coming from a law firm and running the legal department like just another law firm, which I've been in those departments and I've worked with those departments. So these smaller departments are just willing to try anything, they're willing to embrace technology, they're willing work differently.

Steph:
They don't have bodies and they need to find ways to scale, and so they do that in many ways. They do that by trying different things, whether it's automation or outsourcing or really leveraging on legal apps. They're just way more flexible than the GCs from the bigger companies, from my experience. And so I just think that we're seeing a trend moving in that direction because there are a lot of big companies obviously, but I think there are a lot more of these smaller companies. And I think they're the ones it's going to be a little bit more grassroots. And I think you're going to see those GCs really changing the industry and, and pushing things forward and I think the GCs from the bigger companies are going to feel pressure to change.

Colin:
I think it's kind of a catch 22 though, too, because as a GC of a startup or a small operation, you're not going to have the budget and the funds like the GCs of the big companies, the big legal departments. So in part you have to do more with less, but then you have to figure out how to do those things without these big budgets and so you have to get a little bit more strategic.

Colin:
And I see the GCs that have come up through small companies, into larger companies, be a lot more innovative than the ones that have come from the in-house role and moved up at the big companies or from the law firms, and law firms, that's a whole separate story. There's no innovation in the people that come over from that side. But I think it's a catch 22. And the other part of it is, is the the market, the vendors, and everybody that have these tools don't necessarily target those small companies, knowing they don't have the big budgets.

Colin:
They're not the big payday, but I go back and I apologize for anybody that I offend, but you see the Yankees last night, their result, they're in the off season now and they spend more money than everybody. And it's like this in terms of just spending the money doesn't get you what you need, it's the outcomes, and the outcomes are what drive it. And so sometimes as a GC of a small organization that doesn't have a lot of funds, you're bootstrapping a lot of stuff, but you're really driving a lot faster to those outcomes just out of necessity.

Teju:
No. And to your point, Jason, I think there's another lens which you want to apply. And Steph you're correct. innovation and nimbleness is not necessarily a function of small versus large organizations, but it's the experiences that you have. So if you look at lot of lawyers who've become GCs and then run businesses, I think the reason why they're better at it is because they've had international experience.

Teju:
They've been in MNA situations that actually cycle through a variety of organizations laterally to gain that experience to be better. And you're right, a lot of times when you are in a large law department, you get siloed and that's what you get treated day in and day out. But if you don't and you have the ability to move around, you get the same skills that are smaller, law department GC gets by default.

Gary:
And Lucy, do you have any comment on organization?

Lucy:
Always. Why would you possibly ask that kind of silly question?

Gary:
I'm ready.

Lucy:
Yeah. No, I think-

Jason:
Lucy's throwing a flag just for you that.

Gary:
I got dead air and I couldn't believe it.

Lucy:
No, no. I try to give room to breathe for others, but the thing I'll add into this mix as well, which is kind of an obvious, ugly fact, the bigger the organization, the bigger the political nightmare. It is super hard to navigate in those big monstrous companies. They're amazing companies, they are amazing in so many ways, but to try to make change is extra hard. So when you're in a smaller organization, even if you've got the GC with the mutated operational gene that we love and they get data and they get processed.

Lucy:
Simply by virtue of being in a situation where if you don't ask IT in the right tone, on the right day, in the right way, you are screwed, is not okay and they can't make progress. And it's not just IT, which is of course a necessity to get things done right with integrations, the complexity, the data security, the privacy, everybody's going to chime in. When you're in a smaller company, you really just don't have that as much.

Lucy:
So that's just the fact of the more humans you have of the more complexity because, hey, I'm going to pull a Jason and bring it back to what I wanted to say, it's about the people. It is going to be about the people at the end of the day, the right person in IT will make it a dream to integrate a CLM system like Malbek with Cooper or Salesforce, or you name it. Everybody asks the questions, but then actually getting it done is going to just simply go down to the human beings that are in those dependent departments.

Lucy:
When you're a small company, you just have less dependencies, you can get more stuff done, you can drive it faster, frankly, you're filling in gaps that nobody else wants ownership of. In a big company, somebody's there wanting to do a land grab making it their own, smaller, they can't breathe, they're buried, they can't breathe driving the work. So that's just the fact of size. Size matters and I think that has a big impact too.

Gary:
So thank you, Lucy. I do want to ask one more question of the panel while everyone's typing away. And that is a huge topic and you all, I know, are very passionate about, and we're not going to have enough time to do it justice, that is data, in terms of what role data is actually playing in today's evolution of legal operations? So Colin, I'm going to throw it over to you. What can you tell us about data?

Colin:
No, I would say, this is how we're going to break the back of contracts is with data, like I said at it earlier on, I'll just repeat it again, but 90% of your spend is poor signature and your obligations are sitting there in contracts. How do you retrieve that information when the regulator comes knocking? It's like, these are the issues that are facing nearly every team right now as we're moving into privacy world and it is true, AI is true.

Colin:
Sometimes the human element as well, but being able to just kind of capture those data points, those KPIs, being able to move quicks, efficiencies. Every company needs this, not every company is using that. And I think with data... I take the view eventually that somebody in legal apps is going to be running a big division of legal close to a GC level. And it's because they're going to be able to interpret this data and they're coming from a different mindset.

Colin:
It's not good to be your traditional person going through the Socratic medic in law school, remembering cases and repeating them back to the professor. It's somebody that's actually ingrained in programming building out different efficiencies, understands the technology and that's going to be data sound testing hybrid.

Gary:
I got a two minute warning. I got a two minute warning. So in that, Lucy, you'll start off with the last 20 seconds of a final thought, whatever that might be. I'll just go in order.

Lucy:
Yeah. Hashtag CLM readiness, you got to get ready before you get into the system. You can pick a system, you can love a system, you got to get your staff first ask why you do the contracts you do, do a good policy, be crispy clear, hand off to the business templates, playbooks, get that stuff ready, then get technology. You'll be happier, you'll be more successful, and you'll love the tech more.

Gary:
Thank you very much, Lucy, for that. Perfect. And Jason, you're 20 seconds.

Jason:
And I will say here's my Malbek pitch. I saved this for the end, but I still expect the brownies and the wine. The idea from contract management that technology can enable the process and enable the people is key when you have a system that can allow legal to be involved earlier in the process without legal being involved earlier in the process. And by that, I mean, being able to build templates, pre build templates, pre build rules around workflows and playbook capabilities.

Jason:
And then push those out to the business, pre blessed with various avenues and forking, not just, "Here's a template that's on the internet, use it or lose it." And then being able to take that legal mindset and move it earlier in that transaction, and then freeing up the lawyer to do their day job. And I think that's the key of where a system like Malbek can really come in and help kind of underscore all of this.

Gary:
Thank you, Jason. We're at time, but you know what? We're going to go to Stephanie, Teju, and Colin, your last closing thoughts, please.

Colin:
Do you want to go first, Teju?

Teju:
Sure. So what I'd like to say is begin with the end in mind and I'm going to say data, data, data, but we need to get from data to insights. And so having systems like Malbek, which you focus on dashboards, you focus on collecting the right data and present it the right way is going to be critical for people to move from just looking at voluminous amounts of data and voting it in into insights. That's my thought for the day.

Gary:
Thank you, Teju. And Stephanie.

Steph:
Yeah, everything everybody's saying, but just to stick to a point that I made earlier, I hope that GCs from big companies take lessons from the GCs from the smaller companies who are really being creative and do innovative things. I think they can learn a lot from looking at these other organizations.

Gary:
Thank you, Stephanie. And Colin.

Colin:
Perfect. I'd say not only is having data good enough, but being able to interpret that data to get the best outcomes. With that, I just want to say to all the panel, thank you so much, this has been amazing, very superlative.

Gary:
Indeed. Thank you, Colin. Thank you, everybody, for an incredible panel. For the audience, you know where to reach these wonderful human beings, they know so much about your passion, which is contracting in legal operations for so many years. So thank you, panel. I sincerely appreciate it, it's been awesome.

Jason:
Thanks, Gary.

Teju:
Thank you.

Gary:
Thank you, all.

Jason:
And Lucy, Stephanie, Teju, Colin.

Steph:
Thanks, everyone.

Gary:
Take care, everybody.

Colin:
Thanks, everybody.