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Connie Brenton, NetApp and member of CLOC Photo by Timothy Archibald

More legal departments are seizing the opportunity to implement legal operations programs to lower spend and increase efficiency. Amid this legal ops movement, one organization, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), has emerged as both a catalyst for change and an ongoing example of the movement’s success.

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Jennifer Williams-Alvarez

Jennifer Williams-Alvarez is based in New York and covers corporate law departments.

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<div> <div> More legal departments are seizing the opportunity to implement legal operations programs to lower spend and increase efficiency. Amid this legal ops movement, one organization, the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), has emerged as both a catalyst for change and an ongoing example of the movement's success. CLOC is an organization with corporate legal ops leaders as members who aim to optimize legal services delivery models and share knowledge. As it has grown, the group's work has helped define what skills and focuses are needed for law departments to make legal ops work and allowed a community to form around operations. What is now known as CLOC has been around in an informal way for a number of years���with operations leaders from various legal departments meeting to discuss what was working and what wasn't. But the group only became official in early 2016. In the short period of time since, however, there's been a noticeable uptick in the momentum behind CLOC. This is evident in the attendance numbers at the group's annual institute. Last year, there were roughly 500 attendees at the institute held in San Francisco. <a href="http://www.corpcounsel.com/id=1202793496795/Will-the-Legal-Profession-Make-Room-for-Legal-Ops"> At this year's conference in Las Vegas, that number jumped to around 1,000.</a>The organization now represents over 400 companies and somewhere between $30 to $40 billion in legal spend, according to Jeff Franke, chief of staff to the general counsel and assistant general counsel of global legal operations at Yahoo Inc., who is also on the CLOC executive leadership team. "CLOC has grown from really being an informal organization nine years ago, that was more West Coast-based, to now being over 600 members and growing rapidly on a weekly basis, with a global reach," he said. Part of CLOC's impact, said Franke, comes from the fact that the organization, in concert with its members, has defined 12 core competencies that form what they believe is the basis for the role of legal operations. These include strategic planning, vendor management, data analytics and communications, according to the CLOC website. "The 12 core competencies were put together after many years of [questions on] what this role needed to look like and were developed by a multidisciplinary set of individuals," Franke said. "It's really creating a reference model and at a micro level, identifying what legal operations should look like within a corporation." This understanding of what the role is has changed the outlook for careers in legal ops, said Mary O'Carroll, head of the legal operations, technology and strategy team at Google Inc., who is also part of CLOC's executive leadership team. "When I started [at Google in 2008], I was the first [legal ops] hire, and we're a fairly large team now, so I've been recruiting into my team now for some years. And for most of those years, I had to spend time selling what legal ops is and trying to tell people why this is an exciting role," she explained. "Fast forward to today, my team is very excited about their future. ��� People are now pursuing a full-time career, a path in legal ops, and there are opportunities at a much higher level because the role has been elevated in its presence, its scope." With an increased appreciation for what a legal ops professional can bring to the table, general counsel are realizing the value of adding this function in the legal department, said Kevin Clem, managing director and practice group leader of law department consulting at HBR Consulting. "The fact that you can point to the CLOC and say: 'Look at the growth of this group,' is demonstrating the value of legal operations," he said. "As opposed to being a luxury to have somebody in this role as it was maybe five years ago, it's now that you're missing out." Clem added that CLOC is not the only group focused on the importance of legal operations. "But CLOC's stance," he said, "has been to embrace all aspects of the legal ecosystem and bring them all into the conversation, and that perspective has led to the rapid growth of CLOC." Listening to voices from all sides of the legal profession is one of CLOC's four pillars, which also include networking, education and initiating change within the industry. This notion of working with all players in the industry is the basis for the so-called "Magna Carta" at CLOC, said Franke. CLOC is working on crafting a set of principles that will address grievances with the corporate legal services industry and provide tenets for moving forward to achieve better outcomes. "At a macro level, CLOC has sat down with a lot of industry leaders and has started to develop what we refer to as a 'Magna Carta,' and that is really looking at the six core players within the market and really figuring out how each one of them participate, what they can do to help optimize the overall ecosystem and what they're doing right now that's inhibiting the overall ecosystem," he said. The six key participants���law firms, law schools, regulators, LSOs and similar providers, technology providers and corporations���"really play a critical role in making sure everything from service delivery to overall pricing and resourcing is optimized," Franke added. </div> <div> Central to CLOC's method of operating is also sharing what works and what doesn't, so that others in legal operations positions don't have to start from scratch. This ideal has contributed to CLOC's rapid growth, said Connie Brenton, chief of staff and director of legal operations at NetApp Inc. and chairman of the board at CLOC. "It's a relatively new role," she said of legal ops. "And so we are learning from one another." "The industry itself is changing so rapidly, and it's not a single individual that's capable of keeping current on all of the nuances," Brenton noted. "And so we have to lean on one another to help each other find best practices." Google's O'Carroll agreed. "I think the beauty of CLOC is we're sharing our best practices and we're telling each other what we've learned from our paths and our mistakes, so that others can get up that learning curve a lot faster," she said. That's not to say that CLOC's work is done, of course. The group will continue to focus on the four pillars, and according to Franke, the expectation is that the organization's membership numbers will continue to increase. There are also plans to work with regulators to drive change in the industry and to come up with approaches to change pricing models. "Those things reflexively will change who CLOC is and how CLOC operates, how it's structured, what it does, how it focuses on things and how it works with its members," he said. </div> </div> <

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