CLOC EMEA Summit 2021 In Review: Moving Legal from Cost Center to Value Add 

The CLOC EMEA Summit 2021

The CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium) events never disappoint, and this year’s annual CLOC EMEA Summit was no different.

Held on September 14th over four hours, hundreds of legal ops professionals across EMEA tuned in for the latest industry insights. The stage was set with an introduction by Aine Lyons, CLOC EMEA Lead and VP and Deputy General Counsel at VMWare. Her speech touched on the subjects of working as legal ops professionals during the last 18 months, the role of technology during that time, and the solutions that are still needed. Guests were sent into breakout sessions to warm up before moving into the day’s three main talks.

Operationalize Compassion

The theme of the day was working with change, as exemplified by Session One, “What’s Next? An Industry in Rapid Transition,” introduced by Maurus Schreyvogel, Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Novartis. The session was moderated by Rutger Lambriex, Legal Ops at EY and presented by three panelists: Nick Cranfield, Chief Legal Officer at Therme Group; Bob Mignanelli, Head of Legal Ops for GSK Consumer Healthcare; and Aine Lyons. The trio discussed the transformative effects of the pandemic on technology adoption, and how to keep people top of mind in the face of so much change:

They’ll have to change how they work, but we can use tech to create win-win situations and improve the working experience and efficiency of the lawyers. We’ve got to operationalize compassion.

Nick Cranfield, Chief Legal Officer at Therme Group

“As ops professionals, for years we’ve been trying to push people towards using these technologies and processes. The situation around the pandemic has been an accelerator for us,” said Bob Mignanelli. “Tech has allowed us to continue to deliver legal services on time, as our partners need them. We are moving from cost center to value add.”

“Tech was an amazing enabler,” Aine agreed. “It was bittersweet, because I’ve been trying that change management for years.”

“There’s a trade-off between the use of tech and having empathy and compassion for the people we’re trying to make this change with,” Nick Cranfield added. “How do we take the lawyers on this journey with us? They’ll have to change how they work, but we can use tech to create win-win situations and improve the working experience and efficiency of the lawyers. We’ve got to operationalize compassion. We’ve all been much more isolated [during the pandemic] but it’s perversely created more of a sense of community and compassion. We need to use that compassion.”

“Tech has allowed us to continue to deliver legal services on time, as our partners need them. We are moving from cost center to value add.”

Bob Mignanelli, Head of Legal Ops for GSK Consumer Healthcare

Aine added that the legal profession hasn’t focused on people enough. “We’re not catching up fast enough with where people’s heads are at and how people are feeling. They’re questioning everything. This is an opportunity to do a complete reset—rethink everything.” A key area to rethink is the adoption of tools that are designed with users in mind and will assist the legal team in working more closely with the rest of the business to solve problems end-to-end.

Get Up and Move

In Session Two, “Showing Up with Greater Purpose and Leadership,” Betsi Roach, Executive Director of CLOC, introduced the founder of the leadership and innovation consultancy Courageous Co, Michelle Elstein, who spoke about how to build resilience and think differently using movement—and got the audience to stand up and move around during the session to demonstrate that combining purpose, energy, mindset and behavior can help you take control of your career and professional development.

Fail Fast and Lead by Example

The final session of the day was led by Michael Grupp, CEO of BRYTER, on the topic of failing fast and pivoting, with stories shared by Dan Yi, Senior Counsel for Special Projects and Legal Innovation at the US Department of Justice; Jenn McCarron, Director of Legal Ops and Technology at Netflix; and Maurus Schreyvogel. In this discussion, the three legal ops veterans showed vulnerability and openly shared their stories of failure—from the planned to the accidental—and the ways they took ownership of their failures to help their organizations grow a culture of continuous improvement.

We’re not catching up fast enough with where people’s heads are at and how people are feeling. They’re questioning everything. This is an opportunity to do a complete reset—rethink everything.

Aine Lyons, CLOC EMEA Lead and VP and Deputy General Counsel at VMWare

Dan started the session sharing a story of a failed months-long IT launch and the key learnings he published internally (by way of memo) after the project to help everyone learn from the experience. Jenn took a slightly different approach in her story, recounting a failure of a project that she planned as a way to start discussions that would solve the problem. Finally, Maurus recalled the best feedback he’d ever received: a General Counsel telling him that nobody cared about his work in legal ops—a wake-up call that helped him really focus on the why behind his actions.

Closing Remarks and Looking Ahead

Legal Ops is in a moment of flux, but disruption creates opportunities for positive change, and the potential for transformation is incredible. Through both cultural and technological changes, incremental improvements over time will help legal reach the goal of truly becoming a value adding unit. Closing remarks by Mike Haven, Head of Legal Operations at Intel and Board President of CLOC, reiterated this and invited attendees to EMEA CLOC 2022, which will be held next February—and (for now, at least) the plan is to be together again in person.

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