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CLOC Global Institute 2023 Roundup: Attendee Perspectives

Before CLOC Global Institute (CGI), a group of legal ops professionals and vendors started casually chatting on a small WhatsApp group. At the event’s end, we collectively decided to document our perspectives and put them out into the world. 

Our hope is that our shared insights serve as a conversation starter. With that in mind, we invite all legal operations professionals—both those who attended CGI and those who couldn’t make it—to join us in shaping the narrative of this event. 

Because true value lies in the diverse range of experiences and viewpoints within our community, we encourage you to read the takes below and share your own. Be it on social media or your own platform. 

We look forward to your valuable contributions and the enriching discussions that follow!

The CLOC Global Institute Newbie Perspective

Louisa Toy, Legal Operations Manager at One Medical

“I was impressed at the inclusiveness of the CLOC community. The ones that offer to meet up and accept random coffee chat requests are genuinely trying to help and make a connection. I still cannot get over the authenticity and overwhelming kindness the CLOC community has shown and continues to offer.” 

“Vendors that made an effort to make authentic connections were the ones I appreciated the most. Some of the kindest people I met on LinkedIn turned out to be vendors, which I found much later, and not a single time did they try to sell their product or get information from me.”

“Legal ops 101 is a must-attend for all new legal ops professionals. For someone wrapping up her first year of legal ops, the legal ops 101 sessions had an incredible amount of takeaways (literally pages in my notebook) and were worth every penny.”

“After talking to so many people with different years of experience in legal ops last week, I learned that experience is everything and failing is part of the journey. Many in the legal ops community are still figuring it out. Don’t give up, and don’t hesitate to reach out.”

Katrina Gowans, In-House Legal Operations Professional, Australia

“The CLOC community is incredibly welcoming and inclusive, and it is clear this is now a strong part of its DNA.”

“I had a strong preference for vendor/sponsor sessions that involved an activity or sitting down to a meal or quiet chat—I found this was a much better space to connect. The big drinks functions were too loud and busy for any meaningful conversations (but were fun!).”

The CLOC Global Institute Veteran Perspective

Marie Widmer, Senior Legal Operations Manager, Technology at HubSpot

“There is a big shift in the type of connection our community is seeking—people want to challenge assumptions, shift away from norms, and be accepted as their authentic selves.”

“The community has come to understand that tech is only a small part of the picture when solving for transformation—change management, leadership, and legal design are key to structuring a successful ops team.” 

Jonathan Johnson-Swagel, Senior Legal and Business Operations Manager at Uber

“People, process, and technology are all part of the equation.” 

“You can automate a lot, and AI is making waves, and I’m optimistically cautious, ready to build guardrails, and I think there’s more to AI than LLMs (Large Language Module).” 

“Mental health matters, which includes supporting our colleagues in terms of their mental healthcare AND building systems and processes that help increase quality of life.”

“Listen to Ursula’s ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ and imagine tech vendors singing it. With Ursula in mind, interview vendors with excellent, pointed questions and ask to see demos with your company requirements and files. Sign an MNDA and Software Evaluation Agreement first.” 

“Communicate poorly, ignore feedback, and fail to consider your stakeholders if you want to be part of the statistics of failure.” 

“Buy it or build it, but don’t ignore it! Your company will suffer.”

“Build legal tech products with heart and processes that stand out from the crowd to lead true digital transformation.” 

“Inner Queen Sparkle comes from a supportive, safe environment. We need to do better about creating safe, authentic spaces in our community for people to let their Beautiful Souls free and Help Legal Shine.”

Elizabeth Rancourt-Smith, Director of Legal Operations at Tilson

“The legal ops community is looking for authentic conversations—almost all of the most valuable and impactful moments and conversations were not on the CGI agenda.”

“Those beginning their journey in this industry are hungry for real mentorship on leadership, inter- and intra-personal skills, and career advice that is beyond industry jargon lectures.”

“There is a sizeable community that, while we enjoy the parties, are hungry for organized activities that don’t involve mass consumption of alcohol.” 

“There are a lot of incredible stories and thought leadership amongst the population that doesn’t get heard when the companies they represent don’t have name recognition.”

“I became a hugger.”

Leila El Gharbi, Independent Legal Operations Consultant

“Legal ops is all about community. This was evident as people helped others prepare for CGI (WhatsApp group, hiking activity). Lean on your community. It’s there for you.” 

“Legal operations welcomes diverse backgrounds and does not discriminate. A lot of people who did not feel at home in a classic legal career are thriving, and their uniqueness is celebrated. Former DJs, farmers, dancers, school principals, and pastors are now legal ops pros.”

“There is a big focus on AI. We always say people process and tech, but it looks like this conference had a hard focus on tech. You might not like AI, but you better learn about it. There is no more escape.”

“At CGI, there were open discussions about everything human: mental health, diversity, inclusion, and neurodiversity. There is an appetite to learn and do better as an industry.” 

“I really appreciated the effort of having a quiet room at CGI.” 

“I came to CGI with a Beautiful Souls in Legal Tech initiative. I was happy that so many people accepted to take a selfie with the tiaras I brought; some were even coronated. Everyone deserves to embrace their #InnerQueenEnergy“

Kim Brown, Operations Expert and Program Manager at Meta

“People crave in-person interaction. There is so much collaboration and authentic innovation that comes out of being in-person at CGI with like-minded, skilled professionals.”

“Leaders with diverse backgrounds thrive in the current legal ops industry.”“The key drivers of success in legal operations are; innovation, strategic risk-taking, and complex problem-solving, including strong change management skills. All of these skills are transferable from many different industries (not just ..tech!)”

Krysta (Bouchard) Johnson, Head of Legal Operations at Lexion

“The CGI Braindates ended up being more meaningful to me than the actual sessions.”

“The openness and vulnerability people were willing to bring to conversations helped me build incredibly strong connections and strengthen existing ones. Having REAL conversations with no judgment was fantastic”.

“I would love to see more mental health-focused content. Legal ops plays (or can play) such a huge role in helping legal professionals feel happy, fulfilled, and successful. Continuing to break stigma is incredibly powerful, and I felt like I was not alone.”

“There is a strong push for DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance). I would love to see more focus on how legal ops can support these initiatives.”

“I would like to see fewer sessions on Generative AI. We know big things are coming in this space. We don’t need vendors to tell us this.”

“The problems that plague big companies may plague small ones. However, being a small company/small legal team has its own unique challenges. We could benefit from more programming/support for this cohort of CLOC.”

“Having a quiet room made a huge difference for me this year as an Autistic legal ops professional! I was able to step away periodically in a sensory-safe space.”

The CLOC Global Institute Vendor Perspective

Jonathan Williams, Chief Operations Officer at Calame

“Inclusive approach = table stakes.”

“Driving change is hard, but the value-add can be absolutely incredible. The juice is worth the squeeze!”

“Sparkly jackets are cheaper than booths, and Brightflag’s Horseshoe Casino Marquee was GENIUS!”

Tanya Svoboda, Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Brightflag

“In a sea of vendors, genuine (no pressure to buy) relationships are highly valued within the CLOC community.” 

“Your tech must be about more than just your tech. CGI Attendees want to know what kind of pre- and post-implementation support they can expect to receive, and they let it be known if their current vendor wasn’t delivering on it.” 

“Wear comfy shoes. The floors in the Bellagio exhibit hall aren’t forgiving!”

Image of Tanya Svoboda, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Brightflag

Tanya Svoboda

Senior Content Marketing Manager, Brightflag

Tanya Svoboda is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Brightflag. She has more than 20 years of experience in Marketing and Content Development, working in various roles including Senior Content Developer and Director of Marketing. Tanya holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree in English from DePaul University.