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The Arrival of Legal Ops 3.0; Trends from CLOC CGI2024

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The theme of CLOC CGI2024 was Legal Ops 3.0, which is described as a shift toward innovative technologies, data-driven decision-making, storytelling, and transformative leadership. While Legal Ops 1.0 can be characterized as focused on tackling unmet needs and Legal Ops 2.0 focused on strategic alignment with the corporation and co-innovation, Legal Ops 3.0 is about expanding cross-functional engagement and career opportunities beyond legal ops.

A compelling moment during the second-day opening plenary was Mary O’Carroll imploring the audience: “Be more strategic! Saying that you intend to reduce cost isn’t a strategy. Let’s challenge ourselves to work on the right things.” The key question for Legal Ops is how? 

During Epiq Braindates hosted by Catherine J Moynihan, we walked through the Epiq PracticeView™ Methodology For Legal Transformation.  

  • Decide on objectives – in priority order, so all decisions and progress can be measured against goals that support corporate strategic priorities.
  • Assess the current state – gather the facts to gain clarity about needed changes.
  • Align on priorities – take a structured approach to drive consensus.
  • Design a roadmap – prioritize with business impact in mind, but sequence and pace for effective change management.
  • Communicate – transparency garners credibility, and two-way communications confirm understanding, acceptance, and adoption of the desired changes.

The stories shared confirm that there are many available frameworks for consensus-based decision-making (e.g., SWOT analysis, Effort / Impact matrix, etc.). The key takeaway is that strategic leadership demands a structured approach and relentless follow-through to achieve the goal of "working [only] on the right things.” 

The Readiness Trend – Three Focus Areas 

It’s not only important to work on the right things, but also at the right time. There were consistent conversations at CLOC about “readiness,” a sign of growing maturity in the legal operations function (some of it driven by past failures). Sophisticated legal ops pros no longer allow their organizations to fall for the “it will do whatever you want” pitch. They understand that it’s their responsibility to lead a change management process that translates the imagined into practical expectations and compromises. This is where ensuring your team has the right mix of internal and external partners with a business focus comes into play. 

Here’s what’s involved in getting ready in three of the hottest topic areas at CLOC. 

CLM Readiness – after selecting the best-fit tool for the well-articulated and prioritized needs of the legal department:

  • Allow ample time for establishing proper governance, alignment with stakeholders, and defining what success will look like. This includes defining and setting expectations for an MVP (minimally viable product).
  • Determining which data will be needed to manage risk and support corporate profitability so that the metadata tags and overall data structure can be defined with the end in mind. Focus on data that addresses corporate goals, not just legal priorities.
  • Inspect the contract corpus to assemble best-practice contract templates and fallback clauses for each of the most common contract types. If possible, prepare and cleanse data for legacy contract migration.
  • Assemble the playbooks to put it all into practice through workflows.

Microsoft Copilot for Enterprise Readiness:  Legal Ops can and should lead the legal department’s awareness and use of Copilot, ensuring the business is aware of the risks and helping to overcome misgivings by:

  • Finding low-hanging fruit where Copilot can help stakeholders increase efficiency. Email and meeting summarization are now the entry use case for Copilot. Where else can operations be enhanced?
  • Helping lawyers understand that this is not the time for issue spotting. Rather, now’s the time to catch the first wave of Gen AI use cases in the corporation by developing their own applications, so the legal department can advise from a position of knowledge and experience.
  • Understanding the risks and partnering with lawyers and IT to ensure Copilot is used responsibly and effectively. Given that many already have access to Gen AI on personal devices, an acceptable use policy should already be in place. 

Gen AI for Legal Readiness – The phrase “data data data” was uttered multiple times, along with the advice to protect sensitive data with “pristine data lakes.” That sounds daunting. To get rolling, we encourage: 

  • Start with data sets—clean data ponds, if you will, with only your own curated content.
  • Generating and then sifting the use cases – considering value, feasibility, and risk – and picking one use case as a pilot.
  • Finding internal SMEs who will be willing to iterate and partners who can help select the models, structure the data, and test prompts to get the best results.

The Junction of Data and Legal Ops 3.0

Legal operations leaders have a unique opportunity to lead a cross-functional strategic planning process that uses data to inform strategy and ensure long-term success and accountability for transformation projects. The push to adopt AI provides an opportunity to assess the current state of the legal department, agree on priorities, develop a technology roadmap, and launch cross-functional workstreams in the right sequence to confidently move forward in the AI era.

If you missed the CLOC session unveiling the Legal Data Intelligence framework, their website provides an overview that will help bring you up to speed. Understanding how to harness data is key in Legal Ops 3.0, with the ultimate goal of evolving how the legal department delivers legal services. As Epiq’s SVP and GM of Legal Transformation, Ziad Mantoura, said in the session on Making the Leap from Legal Ops to COO, “When you’re talking data, you’re talking the language of the business.” 

The contents of this article are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.

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