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Legal Innovation Briefing - May edition

May 11, 2018


Partners Simon Vannini
Special Advisors Caroline Ferguson
Senior Associates Louise Taylor

Legal innovation & technology Digital & new technologies

Welcome to this month’s Legal Innovation Briefing, a selection of insights and updates curated for in-house legal teams.  

The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium’s (CLOC) annual conference has become one of the go-to events on the global legal calendar. Focused on optimising the delivery of legal services to businesses, attendee numbers at the conference have doubled each year since its debut in 2016. This year’s event which was held at the end of last month, saw over 700 organisations from 37 countries (including New Zealand) represented in Las Vegas. 

Below we set out some of the key messages from Mary O’Carroll’s closing address at the conference. Mary is Head of Legal Operations at Google, a CLOC board member and self-declared “legal operations nerd”. 

We love to discuss developments in the legal sector so be sure to get in touch if there is anything you would like to explore further.

The big idea: Mary O'Carroll - focus on the ecosystem

The legal operations function has been growing and evolving over the last decade, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is frequently described as a multi-disciplinary function aimed at optimising the delivery of legal services to an organisation.

In Mary’s closing address, she highlighted that although there has been a lot of positive momentum, interest and energy in the legal operations space, there is still a long way to go. One of her key messages was that we need to shift from focusing on improvements within individual organisations, to looking at the whole ecosystem. We need to make the whole legal value chain work better and more seamlessly.  

There are however a number of barriers to overcome in order to do this. These include incompatible systems, misaligned business models, skills gaps and technology gaps. 

Mary challenged the audience to work towards breaking down the barriers and “activate the real power of the global legal ecosystem”. Small ways she suggested that people could start doing this include questioning existing processes and suggesting different approaches. 

Mary noted that such little acts of courage and initiative can make massive progress possible, and she encouraged everyone to get started and “be the spark”. 

What we are up to: launch of our Legal Innovation workshop series 

We kicked off our Legal Innovation workshop series this week with a session focused on tips for making sustainable legal process improvements. The session was fully subscribed with 15 representatives from a range of in-house teams. 

Led by Caroline Ferguson and Alexander Ivanov from our Business Transformation team, the workshop covered: 

  • how to best adapt process improvement methodologies to legal processes 
  • how to get started and the five key steps to follow for sustainable process improvements
  • how other in-house legal teams have improved the accuracy, speed and quality of their processes.

It was great to get some really positive feedback from attendees. We will be running the session again in our Auckland office on Wednesday 23 May from 8:00am – 9:30am. 

Upcoming topics in the Legal Innovation series include:

  • 12 July – how legal teams can effectively engage with agile processes 
  • 9 August – knowledge sharing and information within and across departments 

If you are interested in attending any of these workshops or would like further information, please contact Caroline Ferguson (09 977 5336 /

Digest: interesting listening / reading 

If you are keen to learn more about what was covered at the CLOC conference, check out this podcast and article: