More than 2,000 attendees and 750 organizations turned out to the third annual Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) US Institute, held last week in Las Vegas.
Attendance at the conference, which brings together the world's top legal operations professionals, has quadrupled since the inaugural event was held in 2016.
This breakneck growth speaks to the excitement surrounding the legal operations space. Today, corporate legal departments are becoming increasingly strategic organizations and are operating like other departments: measuring themselves against performance benchmarks and rooting out inefficiencies to improve business performance.
Connie Brenton, who founded CLOC in 2010, told Bloomberg BNA recently that the consortium was "created in response to two fundamental questions: What does it mean to run a corporate legal department like a business, and how do you do that?" It's CLOC's mission to reinvent the legal profession for, as they put it, a "technology and data-driven world."
Given this technological bent, it was little surprise that digital transformation was a hot topic at this year's conference, with a major focus on the opportunities presented by the digitization of the contracting process.
At Icertis, we have long championed the transformative impact that digital contracts can deliver to enterprises. Enterprises that have adopted the Icertis Contract Management (ICM) platform have seen faster completion of contracts and agreements; significant savings due to consistent contract terms and management; and dramatically improved compliance.
Often times, it has been procurement or sales leaders in an organization who have lead the discussion about adopting an enterprise contract management platform. But as evidenced by this year's CLOC US Institute, as well as our own conversations with customers, legal departments are starting to take the initiative in spearheading technological innovation at their companies when it comes to contracts.
Enterprise contract management software allows legal teams to work faster and more efficiently, and provides them with the visibility and insight to better manage risk and enforce compliance across an entire portfolio of contracts. A central repository of contracts allows legal to search across all contracts; contract creation wizards can be modified by legal to adjust authoring rules and approval workflows; robust clause and language libraries ensure consistent language is used across contracts; and revisions are stored and evaluated for impact during negotiations.
And emerging technologies stand to greatly enhance these capabilities.
At this year's CLOC Institute, a lot of the focus was on artificial intelligence (AI) and how to apply it to the unstructured data in contracts. With the assistance of AI, legal teams can process and analyze legacy and 3rd-party contracts like never before thanks to algorithms that can read and classify metadata and individual clauses of a contract. AI can also assist in the negotiation of contracts, using past contract performance to make recommendations on future contract language. And AI can identify and surface contract obligations to ensure compliance.
These advents allow legal professionals to spend less time on manual processing tasks and more time applying their intellectual strengths toward solving problems and growing business.
On its website, CLOC argues: "The rise of legal operations is the most significant new innovation in the way legal services are delivered, with the potential to impact a massive portion of the global industry." The big turnout for this year's CLOC Institute demonstrates that the legal field is quickly turning to technological innovations to optimize their operations, including with digital contracts. We at Icertis can't wait to see what next year's event has in store.