Welcome to another installment of Contract Heroes! In this episode, we sat down with the president of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), Mike Haven. On top of being a leader in the legal ops community as a whole, Mike is also the Head of Legal Operations at Intel. Read on or tune in to learn more about Mike’s expert advice for building a functional legal operations department in your organization.
Q: How can legal ops help the business become more efficient?
Since legal ops directly touches the legal department which then has outreach into the entire company, legal ops has the potential to positively impact the whole enterprise. Here’s how they deliver that impact, in Mike’s experience:
- Take routine, low-complexity work off lawyers’ plates through automation.
- Allow lawyers to focus on high-value work for the business.
- Create processes and implement technology that makes legal less of an obstacle and more of a business enabler.
- Foster a culture where legal is perceived as a true business partner.
Take contracts as an example. It’s true that these are legally enforceable agreements. But does the legal department always need to be involved with every document? Legal ops can unclog the pipes and make it easier for other departments to self-serve for some agreements. Reducing lawyers’ involvement with those low-risk agreements helps the business move faster.
Essentially, legal ops helps the company get more out of the resources already allocated to legal and other departments, allowing them to better absorb incremental business demand and deliver results that directly impact the bottom line in a positive way. CLM in particular enables scale by saving time and money while increasing deal velocity and margins.
Q: How can legal ops improve integrations between a CLM tool and existing systems in other departments?
It’s all about collaboration and involving important stakeholders at an early stage in the process. Most departments will relish the opportunity to do self-service agreements when the risk is low because they can move faster when they don’t have to go through the legal department. Let them know that the change will not involve any heavy-lifting for them and will most likely make their lives much easier.
Early involvement from all the important stakeholders, including those on the business side, also ensures that you select a CLM tool that will meet everyone’s needs. Take time to understand the general processes and concerns from all sides before you start developing the requirements for your new technology.
Q: How can legal ops surface valuable data to other stakeholders?
Contracts are the touchpoints between legal and the rest of the business. Through sound use of processes and technology, legal ops can leverage the treasure trove of data inside the company’s contracts to provide data insights to the entire business.
But first, you have to create an infrastructure that allows you to consistently provide business intelligence that will impact strategic decisions. As an example, Mike explained how his two legal ops teams function at Intel:
- Information and Contracting Experience (ICE) Team: Manages the sophisticated contracting program.
- Legal Analytics and Metrics Program (LAMP): Collects, curates, and reports data and metrics to inform the businesses using dashboards.
The two teams work together to surface data for their colleagues and stakeholders. If they spot issues or trends that they think others would benefit from seeing, they push the data out to them.
Q: Where do you see AI functionality heading in the future?
At the moment, AI is mainly being used for automation and increased search capabilities with some in the legal profession using it for more advanced purposes like creating initial drafts of agreements. However, Mike envisions that eventually we will end up chatting with our contracts using tools that allow us to ask questions that the AI will then provide answers to by combing through the database of contracts.
He explained that the main obstacle to these advancements is skepticism. People are still guarded in their use of AI and rightfully so. But as the tools improve over time, we will start to gain more confidence in them and develop comfort in relying on them.
Q: What are the first few things to focus on when building out a legal ops role?
Mike recommends checking out the CLOC Core 12 and selecting a few of the functional areas that the General Counsel views as top priorities. Use those priorities to determine what type of hire you’re looking for, then go out and find someone who matches your unique needs.
In the past, there weren’t any legal ops professionals readily available for hire. But as the role of legal ops has developed and become increasingly essential, the market for legal ops professionals has exploded with life. Many individuals even have unique training that could make them better-suited for your organization based on your priorities.
The legal ops community is very open and willing to help those looking to start building their legal ops teams. Mike invites anyone with questions to reach out to him or someone in CLOC who can help guide them through the process.
To hear more exclusive chats with expert guests offering valuable legal tech advice, check out the Contract Heroes podcast and be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!