“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story or none at all.”
- Joseph Campbell
In the legal industry, CLOC is a BIG story. Why? Because CLOC — the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium — has galvanized the legal operations professionals in both small and large corporate legal departments around an overriding purpose: To modernize how legal services are delivered.
This theme was underscored by Connie Brenton, CLOC’s CEO and the Chief of Staff of Legal Operations at NetApp, at the group’s recent annual CLOC Institute. “We are creating the future of the legal industry,” she told an audience of 1,000 in her welcome speech. The audience cheered in agreement.
Indeed, it was an audience representing the entire legal services ecosystem: corporate legal departments, law firms, law schools, staffing companies, managed service providers, technology firms and other legal industry groups. They had travelled to Las Vegas — where the Institute was held — from 38 states and 13 countries. Not bad for an organization that is less than two years old.
What chord has CLOC struck to ignite the interest and commitment of so many, so soon? In my view, it’s the combination of three key factors that has united previously isolated individuals and groups into a community of people who are working to change the legal industry.
Empathy — Any role that requires a person to take on the mantle of change, also requires that person to take on a long, uncharted, and oftentimes lonely journey. CLOC has tapped into the need of these individuals to find a place where they feel comfortable asking for help, sharing their challenges and discussing their failures.
Diversity — I do not focus here on gender or racial diversity (although critical), but on the diversity of views stemming from different professional experiences and perspectives. CLOC provides a home for candid conversation among all members of the legal ecosystem. Encouraging such candor helps CLOC achieve one of its goals — ending the “us vs. them” mentality that has long plagued the relationship between the buyer and seller of legal services.
Collaboration — Learning the “how” of navigating the complex and changing world of legal operations is at best difficult. CLOC strives to translate the diverse conversations it encourages into tangible learning tools. The annual Institute and the policies, playbooks and templates that comprise its learning platform all welcome contributions from both CLOC members and volunteers from throughout the ecosystem.
I believe these three factors are the secret sauce behind CLOC’s success. But there is one last ingredient.
CLOC is ready to shake things up in the legal industry. And it can — their members oversee, manage or influence more than $40 billion a year in corporate legal spend and operate under the mandate to drive efficiencies to lower the spend. That requires change. What type of change? This is what CLOC is working on and why others in the ecosystem want to join them.
Change is a tall order. But the call to action was clear when Mary O’Carroll, Head of Legal Operations at Google, closed the Institute by saying: “…think big, make change, be bold, feel a little uncomfortable… and get into the right kind of trouble.”
The community’s standing ovation made it clear they were ready to do just that.