CLM, CLM, and… Our key takeaways from CLOC Global Institute

David Mainiero
May 24, 2022

The Factor team just wrapped up a fantastic week at the 2022 Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) Global Institute in Las Vegas. It was energizing to see so many people back in person (2,500+!) after years apart to discuss the state of the industry in legal operations, share best practices and network. 

With a jam-packed agenda and dozens of conversations with legal ops leaders, these three key themes jumped out to us:  

1. There’s a new generation of legal ops professionals out there. More and more companies are building out their legal operations functions and drawing from various areas of experience. Legal ops is a necessity, and we’re seeing lawyers or even business operations folks wear multiple hats in order to ensure that someone is providing legal ops coverage.  Defining the legal operations function for the business is still a challenge.  To get to an ideal state, think about how legal ops can empower the business to achieve its overarching goals, beyond legal.  How can legal be the engine of growth? 

  • Buy-in is critical: Any business case originating from Legal/Legal Ops has to tell a story that aligns with management strategy and objectives to get the buy-in and funding.  Tell the full story. 
  • Measure: Legal ops take things off of the plates of legal professionals. Before you make things better and more efficient, be sure to quantify what was there; how you ‘unburdened’ the team, to quantify your value and success. 
  • What’s your vision for your team?  Break it down and execute that strategy and make sure it is aligned with the overarching business goals. 

2. We know technology isn’t a silver bullet, but can one Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) software be a one-stop shop? We were impressed with many of the demos and new feature roadmaps we saw from many of the technology providers. Most were familiar to us because we have clients using them and have tested them through our own sandbox here at Factor, but there were impressive roadmaps and niche feature demos that surprised us, nonetheless. One takeaway for our team was that while CLM tech selection requires nuance and input from various stakeholders, it’s also unlikely that one system is the best at everything or solves all your needs. The point solutions – technologies that focus on one stage or aspect of the contract lifecycle management journey – are impressive ways to supplement the primary CLM software that you choose.  

3. Securing a shiny new CLM, but what about your data?  “When you implement your new CLM, you might not be able to use it as a central repository as you thought,” said one attendee. In one sentence, they quite succinctly summarized the breakout group discussion. While the importance of CLM data was unsurprising, it was quite shocking to hear aloud in front of 200+ people. To us, this was like hearing “when you get that new Lamborghini, you might not actually be able to drive it.” Well, of course, you can’t, if you do not have any gas in it! In the CLM context, your contract data is the gas.  

  • Future Data and Reporting: Too many CLM technology implementations or plans go forward without sufficient (or any) attention to process improvement or simply getting your arms around the contracts and contract data you already have. Your [CLM technology] implementation can help you organize and clean up your contract data on a go-forward basis only if you set up the processes to make it so at the outset. By this, we mean harmonization of your existing templates, refinement of playbooks with fallback provisions and escalation paths, and building out standardized clause libraries that you know in advance and can “code” into the system.  
  • Everything that Came Before: ensuring that your contracts and contract data are being effectively captured on a go-forward basis is a major win in and of itself, but we’ve seen the allure of technology and appealing future state visions cause too many folks to put the cart before the horse. For most companies, it’s unlikely that you can just pull all your existing contracts from the repositories they exist in now and dump them into the new CLM without much effort. Even if you could do that, it’s not likely to be very helpful in that format. It could be that you end up making the decision that it’s not worth the cost to properly record/tag the contract metadata, but you would have to have performed some form of review and analysis to properly come to that conclusion.  A proper “repository migration” like this should always include some kind of upfront review of that document corpus; maybe it’s a cross-section of those legacy agreements like your Top 100 customers by revenue, or maybe it’s the whole body of contracts. Really, this work should be done at Step 0 of any major CLM technology implementation. It will critically inform how you build out new processes or refine existing ones, how you map your legacy data fields to your new template fields, and a host of other issues that can tip the balance of succeeding in your CLM technology implementation.  

"When you implement your new CLM, you might not be able to use it as a central repository as you thought."

What were your key takeaways? Let us know!

Thank you to the CLOC team for organizing a fabulous event.  The Factor team is looking forward to the next one!  If you’re considering a CLM implementation, get in touch. We can help you get your house in order and select the best tool for your needs.