If Day One of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium’s 2017 institute in Las Vegas was about the potential for change in the legal profession, Day Two focused on what that innovation might look like and how it can be implemented.
Wednesday’s lineup of panel sessions kicked off with a look at the legal profession from a number of different angles—such as in-house counsel, firm lawyers and law school professors—to identify some of the major dysfunctions in legal as well as consider what can be done to address the problems. Take the “us vs. them” mentality that’s long been the standard in the legal profession. There are lawyers, and then there is everyone else, is the idea. And yet to be successful, attorneys have to embrace nonlawyers, such as legal operations professionals.
Lawyers are not exactly known to embrace the untraditional, and for this particular challenge, a regulatory structure designed to prevent lawyers from partnering with nonlawyers creates a unique hurdle. But if this conference is any indication, there is certainly an appetite and a willingness to have the conversations necessary to solve these problems.
Later in the day, an in-house attorney from Microsoft Corp. revealed how the legal department improved its contract management process. Yes, technology solutions were part of the equation, but the focus for Microsoft’s legal team was to take a hard look at the people and the processes that were involved in contract management.
A similar willingness to reassess has meant a world of difference at Telstra Corp. By collaborating with law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, the Australian telecommunications company was able to look to past inefficiencies to create a new framework to manage workflows in a way that would drive cost savings and productivity. The end result was the elimination of more than 40,000 lawyer hours, which in a time when legal is being told to do more with less, is no small accomplishment.
A popular theme throughout CLOC 2017 has been that the legal industry is at a tipping point of change. Thursday, the final day of the conference, will continue to look at how technologies and processes can really keep the momentum going.