Added6th May 2016 by Riverview LawRiverview Law

Something’s Happening

CLOC Institute, San Francisco, 2-4 May 2016 The first album I ever bought was ‘Frampton Comes Alive’. The lyrics to one of the many great tracks on that album, ‘Something’s Happening’, include the lines: You know it’s alright something’s happening Hold tight it might be lightning Turn up the lights I feel like dancing Can’t sleep at night my heart keeps missing a beat Well, I didn’t see lightning at CLOC 2016 ( But something is definitely happening. Most unexpectedly given that it was a legal conference, I actually did feel like dancing at the ‘Big Thinkers’ session on the last day (see the Tweets on 5 May at #CLOC2016 and the comments from Ralph Baxter, Mark Ross and the rest of the excellent, if very large, panel!). For the record, and I am sure to the eternal delight of my daughters, I resisted the temptation to dance (“you’re soooo embarrassing”). Equally surprising – IT WAS A LEGAL CONFERENCE – although it’s past midnight there is absolutely no chance that I’ll be sleeping any time soon. This has little to do with jet lag and more to do with my mind still buzzing, taking in the impact of the last three days. Not even the best bottle of Californian Pinot Noir will knock me out; now there’s a thought … Until the CLOC Institute, the best legal conference I’d been to was Codex 2015 at Stanford University (Walking with the new legal giants – Well, Codex 2016, take note. The bar has been raised. CLOC 2016 caught and contributed to a mood, to a trend. Ignoring the excellent insights from the stage and floor contributors (there are just too many to recount), the key themes included: • The Rise of Legal Operations: As Pat Lamb observed, participants will have left the conference with increasing confidence in and validation of the importance of the Legal Operations role in the legal function of the future. The importance of this cannot be overstated. This confidence, but not over-confidence, is a critical ingredient if change is to happen; • Target Operating Model (TOM): There was, rightly, a lot of talk about evolving legal operating models and the need to make decisions within a strategic framework rather than just fire-fighting and implementing tactical solutions. Legal functions need a target operating model they can work towards. Operating models evolve, as they should, but there needs to be a broad direction of travel and a plan; • Don’t Try and Boil the Ocean: In-house teams need to just start and do something; it’s a journey. But, in the context of TOM, incremental steps should be taken that deliver early wins and create confidence. There is no greater set-back than the failure of a grand plan. Much better, as Jeff Carr would say, to ‘stretch, step and then leap’; • Data Strategy / Transparency: Accompanying TOM is the need for every legal function to have a data strategy; what data do you want to capture? Data is both a friend and a shield. It provides the information that ensures that the right work is done by the right people in the right place at the right price, whether the work is undertaken internally or externally. It allows in-house teams to control their own destiny rather than have change imposed on them because they didn’t have even the most basic information (how many matters do we have, where did they come from (individual and business), what are the work types, when did we receive them, who did we allocate them to, how long is the work taking, how much did it cost, what was the outcome …Instruction and Triage Assistant:; • Accessible Tech: Workflows and data capture processes can now be automated increasingly quickly and cost-effectively. The technology and the cost is no longer the barrier it was (Virtual Assistants: The question for in-house teams is now ‘why aren’t we doing this?’; and • Customer Empowerment: It is OK to be a demanding but fair and collaborative customer. Law firm costs and overheads are their challenge not in-house’s. In-house wants value. Law firms need to build delivery models that enable them to provide this value and be profitable at the same time. As Ron Dolin pointed out, if law firms won’t change, stop enabling them. Use alternative providers so that you have hard data against which to benchmark your existing law firms. This direction of travel is encouraging and desirable. As recent entrants to the legal market one of the biggest initial surprises to us was seeing customers not act as customers. As customers, GCs, Heads of Legal and lawyers have always had the ability to change the behaviour of law firms and therefore the legal market. But, with some exceptions, they haven’t, yet, and the overwhelming majority of law firms have no incentive to do so; why would they, given little real push-back from customers and the profit margins being made – which are unsustainable in any properly functioning competitive market. But something’s happening. The stars are aligning. The recent economic collapse and subsequent slow growth has made businesses look at their costs. All functions, including legal, need to do more with less. Organisations of all sizes are facing growing and fast changing competitive pressure. New entrants to the market provide business customers with more choice. Technology, even forgetting the consequences of AI, is becoming widely available at accessible prices that will drive efficiency and better and quicker decision-making. Non-lawyers (at least in some jurisdictions) can own law firms and bring business disciplines to bear … And now we have CLOC ( An organisation that, with momentum and great timing, helps facilitate and stimulate eco-system change. When people look back in 10-15 years I suspect that 2-4 May 2016 will be seen as one of the key milestones in the transition of the legal market. The legend on the timeline will simply say ‘CLOC Institute May 2016, San Francisco’ but this will understate the significance of what has just happened. I have nothing but admiration for Connie Brenton, Mary O’Carroll, Jeff Franke and all the team that made it happen. For delegates CLOC 2016 felt a bit like a call to arms, which is why I am already looking forward to CLOC 2017! Karl Chapman CLOC Slides May 2016: View presentation here. Karl Chapman Chief Executive Riverview Law Twitter: @KarlChapman100