About five years ago, a group of in-house counsel from large corporations started to meet informally. They expressed frustrations with how their departments were run, and surfaced issues surrounding the way legal services were delivered by law firms. They agreed that legal departments shared the blame for inefficiencies because they didn’t know how to create an easier and more productive way to work. They started to share information, processes and technologies such as e-billing, e-discovery and knowledge management; and they expressed a unanimous desire for law firms to approach them about what would make delivery of services better for the client. They became the founders of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC).
CLOC quickly created a thoughtful, effective base of knowledge, templates, benchmarking capability and best practices to help solve the frustrations they were feeling. Their efforts led to the creation of CLOC’s 12 Core Competencies, a reference model for legal operations excellence. Developing a framework around legal operations and prioritizing the competency areas can build efficiencies that better align with a company’s business objectives.
The legal operations function at major corporations has changed from an uncoordinated set of disparate actions to a more carefully defined, cross-disciplinary profession loosely aligned across hundreds of companies and government entities. The focus is on changing not only the way corporate legal departments deliver legal services but on the way the legal services industry should function. Corporate legal departments are in the driver’s seat.