Connie Brenton of CLOC Talks Legal Ops Automation Adoption
Connie Brenton of CLOC Talks Legal Ops Automation Adoption

5 Legal Ops Virtual Summit Insights From Connie Brenton

What were the highlights of Continuity Beyond Coronavirus, the Virtual Summit featuring the most renowned pioneers in Legal Ops?

That’s a tough one, because the online event was rich with them, as you can see for yourself here.  But maybe the crowning highlight, since it came at the very close?  A “fireside chat” between Justin Hectus of KP Labs and Connie Brenton of NetApp.

Their stature in the Legal Ops community is undisputed, of course.  Both have pioneered the digital transformation of Legal Ops in innovative and far-reaching ways, Connie as head of Legal Operations at NetApp and Justin as CIO/CISO at law firm Keesal, Young & Logan and as CIO at its digital transformation offshoot, Keesal Propulsion Laboratories.

When they sat down for a long conversation about how Legal Ops has helped weather the COVID-19 crisis, and the best practices they’re following in pursuit of future success? They unlocked a treasure trove of insights for everyone in attendance.  Here are just five of them:

The pandemic has created an opportunity for Legal Ops like none that’s come before

As Connie explained it, “the window has been cracked,” as the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it’s caused have made organizations take notice of how operational agility, resilience, and flexible tools to support them are what’s needed to maintain business continuity right now.

“Within a weekend,” she said, law firms were ready to “shift on a dime” to adopt new tools and approaches, and she saw the same happen for in-house legal departments.  Digital transformation was now “at the top of the CEO’s action items list,” and that momentum is gaining.

Workflow automation has proven to be a “no regrets” solution for Legal Ops – and others

Moving forward with new technology during uncertain times can obviously cause hesitancy if it’s not a proven quantity.  But workflow automation (specifically TAP, in this case) has reached a “tipping point” at NetApp, according to Connie.  Its ease of adoption, flexibility, nearly immediate high ROI, and other benefits have proven its value to Legal Ops, and now the rest of the organization is embracing it.

Legal Ops at NetApp had demonstrated its worth to other departments and stakeholders over time, so the company has chosen to invest in workflow automation to use elsewhere in the enterprise, Connie said, “regardless of the scenario.”

Reach out to other tech users during this pandemic, because there isn’t time to learn it all on your own

For those who want to adopt workflow automation or any new tech tool during this outbreak, Connie was emphatic: You’ve got to reach out to user groups and experience resources to gain quick knowledge and expertise about a product.  In TAP’s case, there’s an extensive user community that’s accustomed to sharing workflow models, co-innovation ideas, and mutual support.

Connie pointed out how engaging with existing users helps new adopters ramp up more quickly.  That’s urgent since the future shape and demands of the legal and business environment are still uncertain.  Being able to put a solution like workflow automation to work right now is vital to ensuring agility and responsiveness tomorrow, come what may.

Think of digital transformation as a program, not a goal, that’s full of “useful exercises”

Connie reminded us that digital transformation isn’t an objective, it’s a process.  By understanding it as a program for iteratively delivering change, users of workflow automation (or other technologies) can see that every workflow they develop, even if it’s not used, is a “useful exercise,” in her words, “particularly now.”

Experimentation captures valuable experience, in other words, and sheds light on what workflows work best.  As Justin Hectus added, the ease of use of a solution like TAP allows rapid prototyping of new processes and quick optimization of the ones that succeed.

Innovation has a compounding effect, which is why it’s important to start innovating now

Innovation builds on other innovation, and as we’ve seen in the Legal Ops community, it also thrives on the willingness of fellow professionals to share insight and ideas, even across company lines.  This has a thrilling, propulsive effect on everybody’s progress – users, providers, stakeholders, and clients alike.

But the flip side of that, as Connie has seen, is that you’ve got to get into the game to keep pace.  That compounding effect means that standing pat and ignoring new tools and techniques will quickly leave an organization far, far behind the curve.

Considering the pressures on legal departments and law firms to be more efficient and productive that were in effect even before COVID-19, standing at the gate is not where any Legal Ops professional wants to be.  The fact that only 5% of respondents to our in-Summit poll said they would “stand pat” versus using the pandemic as an opportunity to drive transformation shows how nearly everyone understands this.

If you’re slow, you can’t catch up because of that compound effect.
Connie Brenton

To see more of Connie and Justin’s conversation, and to see the other videos from the Virtual Summit, just use the link below.