Becoming a Legal Ops Rockstar with Netflix's Jenn McCarron on Low/No Code Workflow Automation

November 22, 2022
May 30, 2023

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To say that technology is important in the legal space is an understatement. Bring in the right tool, and the impact that legal technology can bring to your business is endless. From time-savings and scalability to cost-efficiencies and greater credibility across the business, the right technology brings us one step closer to the coveted ‘do more with less’ dream.  

As a leading innovator in legal transformation, Jennifer McCarron, Director of Legal Ops & Technology at Netflix, shared key insights on the unrealized benefits and importance of workflow automation at Checkbox’s Virtual Roundtable.

Kicking off the session, Evan Wong, CEO & Co-Founder of Checkbox, introduced three polls to gauge the current priorities of Legal Ops professionals and where workflow automation sat amongst their key initiatives. The questions were:  

  1. What are your current priorities?
  1. How much do you know about no/low-code workflow automation?
  1. How important is low/no-code automation as part of your tech strategy?

These poll results reveal that there exists a contrast between what legal believes is important and what they are implementing.  Despite 87% of respondents having identified using technology to simplify workflows and manual processes as their highest priority, majority have also marked legal workflow automation as not important, although being the exact solution that looks to solve this.  

The truth of the matter is that a no/low-code legal workflow automation solution should be the FIRST technology that Legal Ops should implement and especially if their highest priority is to simplify their workflow and manual processes.  Claiming that legal low/no-code workflow automation is the first legal technology tool she'd bring into any business, Jenn described it to be like “chicken and rice”, a “nutrient dense” solution and the obvious solution for legal departments looking to scale. In our session at CLOC this year, Jen also stated that if she were stuck on a desert island, and could only have one piece of legal tech, it would be workflow automation. It’s no question that it is the solution that legal teams need.  

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Divining into the highlights from the roundtable, here are our top takeaways:

Low/no-code workflow automation is not a familiar concept to legal professionals

According to the results of the poll on how much legal ops know about low/no-code workflow automation, only 29% of respondents indicated that they have been directly involved in implementing and using it correctly, demonstrating that there is a significant disconnect in the legal market when it comes to workflow automation solutions. Additionally, when asked how important low/no-code workflow automation was in regards to their legal tech strategy, 46% still didn't see a strong importance. So where is the disconnect? The answer is that legal does not know enough about low/no-code workflow automation to determine it as the dedicated technology solution for achieving their key priority of simplifying workflows and manual processes.

How important is low/no-code workflow
automation as part of your tech strategy?

How much do you know about
low/no code workflow automation?

Workflow automation is the dedicated solution on the market

Everyone in the legal tech industry has heard of Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM), but only a few know that it does not provide all the capabilities that streamline the day-to-day work of Legal Ops.

“You can really get so much moving with workflow that you just can’t get with some of the larger solutions that you buy off the shelf,” explained Jenn. “You don’t just have to buy a CLM to get workflow. Sure, some of these things come with workflow but Evan and I are talking about standalone no-code low-code workflow technology.”

The last thing that legal want to do is spend hours upon hours of their time working on tedious NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) that bring little value to the business. However, even in a company like Netflix, generating contracts has become commonplace.

“One workflow can save, conservatively, 20 minutes on NDA generation. Three months ago, 184 NDAs went through my tool at Netflix. So I went, congrats you guys, we just saved 60 hours (about 2 and a half days).  That is one and a half weeks of effort," said Jenn.

What legal leadership and business leaders care about is saving time and increasing productivity. Providing examples, and a detailed story that illustrates how workflow automation is key in driving productivity and shows leadership how they can continue to improve year over year.  

There is no denying that there are no other tools in the market that bring this sort of value to legal. While CLM can count the number of contracts legal generates, it cannot account for time, money and human capital saved on contract generation like workflow automation tools can. And that’s only a small component of what workflow automation can do.

Workflow data is the digital vocabulary of the future

A primary functionality of workflow automation tools is that they provide data visualizations that paint a story for legal ops. These platforms automatically collect background information on workflows like, usage volume, metrics, types of requests, users, et cetera, that allows legal to run reports. This is essential when communicating to leadership.

“Workflow tools can be very external facing, while a matter management or document management system is very inwards facing. Businesses do not see the value of workflow automation platforms, and so it really depends on the current objective of legal departments on how they want to elevate themselves within the business. If your objective is to provide a narrative on data, to get more resources or to have a seat at the table, then capturing that data begins with digitizing your manual processes,” explained Evan.

Jenn went on to explain that capturing those metrics and putting them into digestible presentations for the business are also extremely important.

“Another Legal Ops hack: Organizing data in a way that is easy for business users to understand is key to supporting legal, and workflow can help bring that data to life, and ultimately, bring back value to the legal team. Our jobs are to be the storytellers, and to make sense of all our work to leadership so that they keep going, ‘I like this. What else can you do? Here’s the budget you need. Keep going.’”

Providing the data from workflow tools is one thing, but explaining, and painting a larger picture of what the data means to non-legal business users is key to elevating the status of legal within organizations. Leveraging the dashboards from workflow tools is a steppingstone to securing a seat at the table as a business advisor.

Getting started with workflow automation is simple

Implementing a workflow automation solution is much simpler than it sounds. Even if you do not have the skillset to build complex low/no-code solutions, starting small is key to success. Both Jenn and Evan stated in the roundtable that workflow projects should not start with complexity, but instead move slowly and incrementally towards the bigger tasks.

“I go for all the highest volume, lowest risk first to keep improving until we get to the bigger deal stuff,” says Jenn.

Since low/no-code is a new concept for many legal ops, it could be intimidating, but the good news is that with workflow automation platforms, like Checkbox, you are never alone in your automation journey.

“If you can't do it, find a professional service partner that can do it for you and be like, ‘I need you to build me a very basic prototype.’ Pick your low-code software and pick Checkbox,” said Jenn.

Next Steps

Access the full roundtable recording now or watch the 1-minute summary below. Wondering if workflow automation should be your next legal technology project? Get in touch and we’ll be able to walk you through a bespoke workflow design and consultation.

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