In Case You Missed It: CLM Simplified Academy

On March 10, Pepe and I headed over to NYC to attend the very first installation of CLM Simplified Academy. Organized by Legaltech Hub and InnoLaw Group, this one-of-a-kind event was designed to focus entirely on our favorite subject: CLM. 

In the past decade, CLM has become somewhat of a buzzword in the legal tech space. However, despite the growing popularity and the arguable necessity of these tools for many businesses, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the CLM market. Hundreds of vendors offer their own unique software, with more and more vendors entering the scene every day. Most potential customers become immediately overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, especially when they aren’t really sure what they’re trying to find in the first place. 

Legaltech Hub and InnoLaw Group came together to solve this issue by providing a full day of workshops, presentations from vendors, and speeches by CLM experts designed to help attendees understand CLM and make an informed purchase in the future. As one of those attendees, I’m here to tell you about some of the key points that I took with me after my experience at the CLM Simplified Academy.

1. The Legal Ops Takeover

In addition to the legal, sales, and procurement departments that are often at the forefront of CLM discussions, a relatively newer department has moved to center stage: legal ops. The goal of most legal ops departments is to help lawyers demonstrate their value to the company and use their time as efficiently as possible. Thus, legal ops employees end up working intimately with CLM tools which allow them to gain a better understanding via data collection of where lawyers are spending the most time in the contracting process and where potential inefficiencies could be hiding.

2. How to Manage Change During CLM Implementation

Human beings as a whole are pretty averse to change. We like our routines. When we know how to do something one way, we tend to stick with it, passing up other solutions even though they may be more effective. This is especially true in both tech and legal spaces, making change management for CLMs a nightmare to handle.

In order to avoid getting discouraged or bogged down during your CLM implementation, it’s important to start small and work your way up through the ranks. Focus on one team of employees and make them the champions of the technology first. Then, as you expand the solution out to the rest of the company, these team members can not only help their peers get the hang of using the new tool, but they can also advocate for the different ways it could improve the quality of life for every person who touches contracts at the organization.

3. AI Is Both the Present and the Future

AI is one of the most exciting aspects not just of legal tech, but of technology in general right now. AI tools are advancing rapidly, and CLM vendors continue to find new ways to apply AI in order to help employees make high quality contracts more efficiently. The companies that embrace AI early will have a headstart in learning to use it to its fullest potential, while those that resist will likely be left behind and inevitably fall into obscurity.

Despite its quick advancements, AI has still not reached a point where it is capable of running a contract lifecycle on its own. It should quell the fears of many employees to know that bringing AI into the office won’t result in them losing their job. In fact, it will likely make their lives easier and allow them to focus on more fulfilling aspects of their work.

4. CLM Centers Around People

No amount of technology or AI advancement will ever be able to take the place of good workplace relationships. Contracts don’t belong to any single department in an organization. They branch out all over the place, touching the legal team, sales, procurement, and more. In order to efficiently manage the contract lifecycle, a steady flow of communication needs to exist between the employees in all these departments. 

The best way to guarantee good communication is for employees to bond, build trust, and create meaningful relationships that help each person understand their own role and the value of others in the contract lifecycle. Every department’s perspective on success will be different. The key lies in finding the commonalities and making sure that all voices are heard when it comes to searching for solutions to existing problems.

5. Benefitting From Your CLM Takes Work

Unfortunately, many people have come to view technology as a blanket solution that blindly fixes a whole slew of problems. In most cases, that simply isn’t true. CLM is one of those cases.

Oftentimes, CEOs and other management officials hear about technology like CLM and think they’re behind if they don’t already have one. This can lead companies to rush into purchasing a tool from the first vendor they contact, one that was recommended from a colleague, or the most popular tool on the market. However, there are 2 important factors these companies fail to realize:

  1. Simply implementing a CLM won’t fix problems locked deep inside your contract processes.
  2. Not all CLM tools are created equal. Choosing the right CLM to fit your contracts matters.


Implementing a CLM without first fixing your broken processes or choosing one that is wildly unsuited to your company’s contracts will not result in the benefits you’ve heard are possible from a CLM tool. Rather, the tool will likely fall into disuse and wind up being a waste of both time and resources. To avoid making an ineffective investment like this, you need to think about your implementation in 3 stages: before, during, and after.

Before Implementation

Though every stage of implementation is important, this one can make or break your CLM experience right away. Before you even start browsing through vendors, you need to take time to assess your current contracts, identify pain points inside the contract lifecycle, and think of potential solutions to those problems. Once you have that framework in mind, you can begin sorting through vendors. It may also help to work with a consultant who will help guide you toward solutions that fit your company’s needs.

During Implementation

Think about CLM implementation almost like a hiring process. It isn’t enough to merely choose an employee with a stellar resume. Once you’ve made your decision, you need to provide training in order to help that employee achieve their full potential. CLM solutions work much the same way. The software has to be configured, data needs to be entered, and employees using the solution must be trained on how it works if you want things to run as smoothly as possible.

After Implementation

This is where change management comes into play again. As employees adapt to working with a new solution, they need resources they can rely on for troubleshooting. Stay in contact with your vendor or consulting agency, but also be sure to have 1 or 2 internal employees who know the solution well enough to be able to help their peers with most inquiries.

Pepe and I also hosted an exclusive live podcast during the CLM Simplified Academy, so be sure to check it out. Overall, the event was a blast! We had a great time seeing old friends and making some new ones too. I hope events like these will continue to open the door wider and wider for more conversations to be had about CLM in the future.