Connie Brenton, President & CEO of CLOC
The 2018 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Institute consisted of four days filled with sessions, demos, and networking among legal operations professionals and was a reflection of the massive growth the legal operations industry has seen in recent years. Legal operations is the embodiment of the idea that a corporate law department should be run like a business. Legal operations professionals across the country and globe have taken charge of modernizing the traditional corporate law department, freeing up lawyers to spend more of their time on actual legal work, instead of, for example, billing issues, project management, recruiting, or contract management. CLOC, the organization that puts on the annual conference and that is, in many ways, spearheading the legal operations movement, is exploding in membership. Reflective of that, the conference has grown from 500 attendees in 2016, to 1000 last year, to 2000 attendees representing over 700 organizations this week at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.
When reflecting on the massive growth in CLOC’s membership and in Institute attendance, CLOC President and CEO Connie Brenton (also the Senior Director of Legal Operations at NetApp, Inc.) said that the growth shows that there had been a gap in the industry that CLOC is now filling. CLOC members, Brenton said, are passionate and committed people who are going to revolutionize the legal industry. Indeed, being at the conference provided evidence that legal operations professionals are full of determination and are ready, willing, and eager to collaborate.
Indeed, collaboration is the name of the game in the exploding legal ops scene. The sessions at the Institute featured leaders in the field from major corporations, including Cisco, Google, WalMart, Gap Inc., and Spotify. Presenters offered real world, practical advice that included specific strategies, steps, and roadmaps they have used successfully in their own operations departments. Attendees soaked up the knowledge, asked for advice about specific obstacles they faced, and shared successes and difficulties of their own, all while constantly meeting and greeting one another and mobbing the panelists like celebrities at the end of sessions.
Although it might seem strange for such a high level of collaboration to be happening among companies that are often competitors in their industries, CLOC leadership said that by collaborating with competitors, everyone in the field can benefit. By enabling and accelerating the growth of the legal operations field by encouraging and hosting these collaborative events, CLOC’s leaders and members are influencing an industry that has traditionally been very slow to move.
CLOC’s main goal is to revolutionize the legal operations community by unifying and raising legal ops standards, and to foster a community of collaboration and thought leadership among legal ops professionals across the country. The exploding field is resulting in a lot of opportunity for legal and business professionals to move into this space, whether they are just starting out or ready for a career transition.
What is the long game for legal operations, and for CLOC? The leadership team expressed the view that every organization that adopts a legal operations function will have a different focus, but that there will be common threads. Brenton predicts that how legal departments operate will be fundamentally different in the not-too-distant future, with single-platform technology uniting all of the many technologies that law departments currently employ. As far as CLOC goes, the leaders anticipate that membership will continue to climb, as they work to further engage professionals, law schools, and legal technology vendors. Without divulging details, Brenton hinted that other exciting developments were on CLOC’s horizon, and as a witness to the energy and momentum of the 2018 Institute, this writer wouldn’t doubt her.
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