Learn from the champions of workflow automation - A new webinar / podcast series by Checkbox


Legal Ops New Year’s Resolutions & Building a Roadmap for 2024

Join us to discuss the 4 Core Legal Ops Technology Capabilities and how to navigate prioritizing new technology for your team’s unique circumstances and business strategic outcomes in 2024.


Evan Wong, CEO & Co-Founder at Checkbox

Stephanie Corey, CEO & Co-Founder at UpLevelOps, Co-Founder of CLOC and former Chief of Staff, Sr. Director of Legal Operations at Hewlett-Packard, VMWare and Flex


55 Minutes

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Evan Wong (00:00):

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us here at anotherGo with the Workflow. If you're joining the Go with the workflow for the firsttime, it is our series of bringing together people who are in legal opsobsessed about process improvement and workflow automation. So today I have avery special guest. I am extremely excited. I have loads of fun every singletime I speak with her, and that is Stephanie. Corey is joining us today as ourguest. Stephanie is one of the people who have shaped and defined legaloperations as an industry. Right at the very beginning, she was an executiveand a founder of Clock. No introduction needed there and was previously thechief of staff and senior director of legal operations at hp, VMware and Flex.And she has not slowed down after being in the game for well over a decade.Steph today is the CEO and Co-founder of Uplevel Ops, a very popular consultingfirm that specialises in legal operations. And she's also the co-founder ofLink, a legal operations community that shares insights, resources andfrequently gather for events, which I've also been to myself. And if you thinkshe's only a badass at work, think again because she practises MMA, so sheprobably kicks as much actual butts as she does goals. And with that, Steph,thank you for being here and welcome to the show.

Stephanie Corey (01:32):

Evan. Always a pleasure. We always have fun when we get tohang out, and I'm thrilled to be here and really grateful that everyone couldjoin us today.

Evan Wong (01:42):

Amazing. This is going to be great. So today's topic,we're going to be talking through the legal ops New Year's resolution and theroadmap that we're going to be building for 2024. We are talking about theroadmap today, but you once said to me, Steph, you said don't let the tech wagthe strategic tog. So let's start with talking strategy. What does strategylook like for a legal department and why is it important to have one?

Stephanie Corey (02:11):

Yeah, and it's so funny because one of the names in thechat that I see her are participants is Alexia Moss, and she's the generalcounsel that I worked with for many years and she is the strategy queen of allGCs that I've gotten to work with. And what some of the stuff that we've donetogether is the legal departments. Look, if you ask any lawyer, a lot of themdon't even know what the corporate strategy is, and it's so how do you providereally effective responsive services if you don't even know what the realstrategy is? And so the corporation is going to have a strategy, the CEO isgoing to have a strategy. And so it is so important for the legal department'sstrategy to flow from those goals. And so if it's entering new markets orgrowing through acquisitions or whatever the corporate goals are, legal's goalsshould flow from that.


And then the operational goals are going to be okay, thenhow do we do that? So the GC using the corporate goals and help from theirstaff and the chief of staff and all of that will come up with what are wegoing to be doing as a legal department? What legal work should we be doing?That's the first question you should be asking in the first place. Is this alegal question or can it go elsewhere? Meaning an A LSP, another department inthe company, automation of course. So asking what that legal work should be toget the corporation to its goals. And then of course operations is the how wecome in and say, okay, now how do we get there?

Evan Wong (03:45):

Absolutely. I think that's really good advice. So if I'mimagining it visually, you're saying there's a corporate strategy which yousaid, and that's sort of course furthering the business biggest, most importantgoals. And under that you have the legal department strategy that feeds up tothat just probably how all of our other peers would design their salesstrategy, their client success strategy, and all of those feed up to thecorporate strategy. Legal is no different. And then underneath that legaloperations strategy should really support then the gc, the CLO in enabling thatkind.

Stephanie Corey (04:20):

Exactly. And I think when we start repositioning ourselvesfor so long, we've heard legal's a cost centre, we can never get the budget weneed. And that positioning was legal as the rubber stamp at the end ofeverything, right? Oh, legal has to approve this. No, we need to repositionourselves. If you are viewed as a cost centre and overhead, you're never goingto get frankly, the respect or the resources you need. And so to the extentthat we can change that conversation, and instead, legal is here to help youlegally and ethically advance progress, move forward, get new business, and getrevenue in the door quicker, those are the conversations GCs and CLOs need tobe having. And then of course, operations supports all of that. We figure outthe how to get there, but it changes the conversation so that legal isn't thatthe cost centre, we need to move away from that.

Evan Wong (05:21):

Absolutely. Okay. So let's say you are looking to design alegal strategy and maybe you're at the company all hands, maybe you read thecompany strategy manifesto, the document. Do you go from that straight intodesigning a strategy for the legal department or is there a process that you gothrough in order to design your legal department strategy? What's been yourexperience?

Stephanie Corey (05:48):

My experience? That's a great question. And I guess youcan just do that, right? You can just develop a strategy based on, okay, here'swhat we need to be doing. From my experience, I think if you start with anassessment, you're going to get a better end result with your roadmap in orderto get there. So the strategy is the end goal, I should say you start with endgoals, you need to know where you need to get, but then there's a whole gapthat you need to bridge in terms of, okay, now how do we get there? And so forlegal itself, once you figure out what your goals are, then you need to assesswhere you currently are, where your problems are, where the roadblocks are, andthen that becomes the legal department strategy to get to the end goal. So weusually do it, there's a million ways, and it can be when you think about it interms of like, okay, the old school MBA, you're writing an 80 page document,nobody should be doing that because first of all, the strategy has to be reallyfluid priorities are going to change.


There's going to be global events that happen thatcompletely shift priorities overnight, literally. And so when that happens,this is really a fluid living, breathing kind of document, and all it should beis really a visualisation. These are not project plans. It's a visualisation ofwhat we need to do over the next two to three to sometimes five years to get toour end goals.


And in order to do that, we have sample roadmaps and allthat, which I know you're going to show later, but you really need to. Then youcould go down deeper and break it out into, okay, these are the 10, 20 thingswe're going to be doing. And then of course you'll break it down and do projectmanagement for each of those. But it's really just in my mind, you start withthat assessment, you figure out where the gaps are, and then the solution tothose gaps is really your strategy and ends up being a roadmap.

Evan Wong (07:56):

Yeah, the comment you made around the 80 page documentresonates in a different way. For me, I remember people used to talk aboutwriting business plans when you start a startup, no one's going to write orread an 80 page business plan nowadays. And so they came up with this concept,which is the lean startup canvas. It's literally all of the key concepts, buton a single page. And so that, that's

Stephanie Corey (08:22):

Exactly what I'm talking about. Yeah, nobody's going toread a document and nobody's going to keep it up to date. So it is kind of awaste when you dive in that deeply on any kind of project. Yeah, programme.

Evan Wong (08:34):

Yeah. And do you get a lot of the input onto that byhaving conversations with your stakeholders? Is that a mode of input as wellfor you? Are you conducting interviews or surveys, and typically, how broad doyou go in that sort of assessment in gathering the inputs into formulating thatstrategy?

Stephanie Corey (08:58):

It's such a good question. And we say you should go asbroad and deep as you can afford to go. And what I mean by that is this stufftakes a lot of effort and takes time. You're setting up meetings that takes anhour with each person by the time you really dive in and start having theseconversations. And so it is a real investment in terms of time, your time andtheir time. But the more people you can talk to, obviously the betterinformation you're going to have and the more complete information you're goingto have. And I think ultimately then the better decisions you're going to make.So when we go in and professionally do an assessment, and again, this is stuffthat people can absolutely do on their own, but it takes time, it really doestake a lot of time to coordinate all of this, but we try to talk to as manypeople as we can within legal.


It's important to talk to leadership, but we really wantto get down and dirty with the people who are doing the work because that'swhere you really see stuff that's broken down. There's so many workarounds thatpeople do, they track stuff offline. All of this stuff really needs to beexamined because it takes time and it needs to be calculated into the ROI of,I'll give you an example. One client that we had thought they were spending$300,000 a year on this one system. It was a big client. They're like, whyshould we rip and replace it? It's only 300 grand a year. It costs way more torip and replace. And when we did the full assessment, what we found out waspeople hired additional headcount for the workarounds. They bought additionalsoftware to compensate for the lack of functionality in this software. Peoplehad database administrators.


There was so much offline work happening around it. Itended up being well into the millions of dollars that they were actuallyspending. And so you really need to understand what is happening and calculatethat into your ROI and whether or not it's worth, there's also fatigue in termsof people taking on new projects and new technology. So the culture has to be,the temperature of the department and the culture really have to be taken intoaccount as well. So we really want to understand what's happening in thedepartment. Then we want to understand what's happening outside of thedepartment in terms of who's supporting the department. So what resources areavailable, what enterprise tools are available. We really get to know thosefolks. And then clients, and this is where sometimes GCs take a step back,they're like, wait, you want to talk to our clients?


But to the extent, look, this is information. Nobody wantsto hear bad news, but it's so important to hear bad news and because it's anopportunity and it bridges a gap as well. So when we start having theseconversations with sales, we hear the same things over and over again. And I'msure this would be a surprise to nobody on this call, but legal blame sales.Sales is blaming legal. But when we could really dig down to the root of theproblem and fix these relationships, we had a client, they actually were an CCCvalue champion winner because the sales team, they would fight in front of theceo O legal and sales would be fighting. The CEO is getting really irritated,and we helped them fix this problem using a LSP plus technology to reallyreduce the backlog. And then the sales team all of a sudden was like, we havethe best legal team in the business.


And so it completely changed the perception of legal. Andso I think the more that you can solve some of these pain points, the betteroff your legal's going to look and B, for the company be of higher value. Butyou can't even begin to solve those problems until you're having thoseconversations and you don't get a full picture view. And then also sometimeswhat you realise, Evan, and this is so important for workflow as well, we seelegal teams trying to solve broad problems across the entire company when infact we try to encourage them to kind of stay in their own lane. And so a goodexample of that is you don't necessarily need a whole quote, cash to quotesystem in place. Legal doesn't need to be doing procurement with whatever toolthe procurement team is going to be using, doesn't need to work with legal,they need to talk to each other. That's important. But you want to also, whileyou're getting all of this broad information, you want to be solving for a morenarrow, if that makes sense for a more narrow set of issues because you'll biteoff more than you can chew. It's really important to solve for legal's needs asyou're thinking about this, but knowing that these systems will tie into eachother whatever you're solving for legal's needs, while still having thatbroader picture view, if that makes sense.

Evan Wong (13:51):

It certainly does, and I've seen what happens, what can gowrong, I think if someone doesn't end up taking the advice that you've providedthere around starting with legal's needs because as attractive as it is tosolve for other department problems that may be interrelated with legal,there's a lot of interactions between legal and the other departments asattractive as that may seem because then you might be able to get a kudos statsbroader than just solving your own problems. Often a lot of the decisions orthe controls over systems and decisions are not within your remit, and so youend up getting slowed down or projects may end up failing because you don'thave full control over the outcome.

Stephanie Corey (14:36):

Absolutely. I've seen it time and time again. That'sexactly what happens.

Evan Wong (14:41):

Yeah. Okay, so let's then tie up the strategy part of thechat with something really concrete, but we're going to do something that maybeputs you in the hot seat for a little bit, which is let's do a live exercisetogether right now, Steph.

Stephanie Corey (14:57):

Okay. Wait, I wasn't prepared for this. No, I'm kidding.

Evan Wong (15:00):

Let's pretend that you and I both work at a companytogether and the company strategy, the corporate strategy is, well, part of thestrategy is to attain 80% growth in revenue over the next year. What would besome examples of legal department's strategic objectives and maybe initiativesto support a company that's expecting 80% growth in the next year?

Stephanie Corey (15:28):

Yes. Okay. That's a great question. And it's one that, bythe way, when you ask these questions, I would recommend for legal opsprofessionals to work closely with the leadership team and their GCs as theyfigure this stuff out. But there are team conversations to be had. And so oneof the things, instead of thinking about, oh, how can legal reduce costs, whichI think is the place most ops managers go first, it's inbred in us. That's howwe think we can cut outside counsel costs, but that's not where our brainshould be going first. In fact, what we should be doing is a couple of things,okay, are we looking at breaking into new countries maybe where we're notcurrently doing business? Are we looking at acquiring new businesses that arealready there? And so growing inorganically, which is obviously a lot quickerthan growing organically.


And another thing would be getting revenue in the doorfaster. So speeding the whole life cycle of the contracts. And also there's alot to be done around contracting. If you can look at deals in general and see,okay, we did all of this work and then it just fell off. If there's a way to dosome analysis on why do we lose that deal, again, that's not a legal, that's abusiness conversation, but legal can really facilitate that. If maybe thenegotiation was too, too many red lines, too much back and forth, too difficultto do business with, there was no ease of doing business with this companybecause the legal team was too hard-ass about stuff that frankly doesn't reallymatter, isn't really a risk to us. So there's a whole set of things that legalcan do to really simplify the business process, and that's really where legalshould be looking at.


And so again, I think entering new markets, entering newcountries where you weren't previously doing business and figuring out whatcompanies to buy legal can really help facilitate. And frankly, isn't that moreinteresting? We're the business people for the legal department as legal opsprofessionals. So those are interesting conversations that I think in the pastwe weren't really part of. We were very backend just making sure the trainswere on time, all still critical, but if we can be part of those conversationsof how do we increase revenue for this company, I think that is a much moreinteresting place for both the lawyers and the operations people to be in. Andagain, it elevates the whole conversation. So that's kind of where I wouldstart, where how do we facilitate getting revenue in the door faster, honestly,more revenue and getting it here quicker. And if the CLO GC is having thoseconversations with their business clients, isn't that better than, no, youcan't do that. Or No, it's never been done like that before. So we're not even,nobody likes the department of no. So I think having those differentconversations are where to start. I'm curious if anybody in the audience hasthoughts on that too. And Terrell here says, vendor contracts are probably partof that. I would say all contracts are probably part of that, right?

Evan Wong (18:55):

Yeah, I love that. Like you say, it really changes theconversation. It goes from not just a department that is really important formanaging risk in the organisation, but now a strategic enabler. How can weactually increase velocity or open up opportunities for the business from legalthat enable that kind of more growth orientated corporate goal? That's reallyinteresting.

Stephanie Corey (19:19):

I think.


Yeah, and Evan, what'll be interesting too, and we'regoing to see how this plays out here already, but with the introduction ofgenerative ai especially too, I think where legal departments were valuedbefore an outside counsel, frankly law firms, was the analysis of, okay, thiswhole set of regulations just came out or whatever. And I think that's changingbecause now you've got technology that's going to do that in a snap for you.And so you're going to have technology that's showing you where risk is, that'stelling you what this whole new set of California privacy laws, what does thatmean for us? You're going to have all of that analysed in seconds. And now Ithink clients want to hear from their lawyers, well, they don't want to hear onthe one hand this, on the other hand, this, no, tell me what I should do. Tellme what to do here. And so lawyers are going to have to be more consultativeand act in that business consulting kind of capacity because everybody's goingto be able, if they want to stay relevant because everybody's going to be ableto go to some LLM that everybody eventually is going to have installed intotheir companies at some point and ask those questions, what does this mean forme? So they're going to get their legal answers. What they need is thatinterpretation and what does that mean for them in my mind anyway.

Evan Wong (20:41):

Yeah, absolutely. Okay. No, that's super interesting andthank you for getting the hot seat there by the way. We'll take you off it.Yeah,

Stephanie Corey (20:52):

No, no. And Alexia even made that comment too, the morewith less, I hate that as much as you do Alexia, what is more demotivating? Ifsomebody says, do more with less, I'm your manager and I'm telling you, youhave to do more with less. Like, okay, that is the most demotivating line ever,right? You're going to make me do more work with less resources. Thanks forthat. And I love how Lexi says, just do less. I think that's so important. Andthat goes back to what I was saying earlier too about should legal even betouching this to begin with? We need to be asking those conversations. Is thisa legal question? And I have a lot of GCs say, well, we work so hard to getthat seat at the table and we love to white glove everything. I get that. Butif you do this stuff, if you do the automation, if you do the no legal's nottouching that, we are only going to be doing this. You set up the rightpartners to do some more of the mundane work for you, the churn, then you'refreeing up your in-house lawyers to have more time and more space on theirplates or however you want to say it, and then they can be more businessaligned and consultative and they have more time to be strategic if they're notchurning through work that frankly can be done by a tool or another partner ordoesn't need to be done at all.

Evan Wong (22:13):

Absolutely. I think a lot of the burnout and the overworkthat happens in legal departments is because they're being so diligent, sodiligent in the way that work comes in, and they just work on what's on theirdesk, but they're not thinking strategically about what kind of work should Ibe doing and and matching the right resource to that type of work. And sothat's definitely an area where you can get a lot of time back.

Stephanie Corey (22:41):

Yes, because it's getting the right resource, which is atool, a person, a document, whatever the resource is, having the right resourcedo the right work in the right location, frankly. Right?

Evan Wong (23:00):

Yep, absolutely. Okay, so let's say we now are clear onwhat our strategy is. People have followed your advice. They've looked at thecorporate strategy, they, they've thought about it, they've done a 360discovery interview with all the different stakeholders and they found how theywant to design the strategy for their legal department. They want to then moveinto the road mapping part of planning. So if we think of strategy as maybe theend goal, like you mentioned, roadmap are all the initiatives and maybetimelines to get to that outcome. So the plan, and I think a lot of times wemay understand our problems very well, especially if we've now interviewed abunch of different people and we may have a very strong empathy for theproblems that we want to solve, but sometimes we may not be as clear as to thesolution to those problems, especially when finding solutions involves goingoutside of the four walls of our organisation to look at potential providersand technology and to know what's out there. And often, sometimes what we thinkwe need isn't actually what we need. So what's your advice there? Have you seenthis happen before? How do you ensure that you end up onboarding the righttool? You even begin looking at the right set of tools to solve the problemsthat you've identified?

Stephanie Corey (24:27):

Such a great question. And it's overwhelming, right? Imean, I just had a conversation. If you Google whatever or Bing or whateveryou're using these days, CLM tools or whatever, you get a thousand resultsback, where do you even begin? What we end up seeing is you've got GCs or legalops professionals who might be new to the role or maybe they're totallyseasoned, but contracts isn't their thing. Not all of us are experts in everyaspect of what we do. We couldn't be, it would be there's way too many areasthat we would need to cover. And so you talk to folks and you get this, whichis important, but you need to do it in a controlled way. And what I mean bythat is it's great to say, Hey, what are you using for this? But their usecases might be completely different than yours.


And so often, and GCs will come back from a conference andthey're like, we talked to these vendors or we talked to a bunch of GCs who areusing this. And so we get called into, they've already signed the contract andnow they need help with implementation or best practises, or they're realisingthat, oops, we weren't quite ready for this and we did it. And now, and I wishthat we got called in six months earlier because I use the analogy of payingfor the designer for the house. If you're going to do a full house remodel,nobody wants to spend more money, then they have to, it's already going to beexorbitant and unpleasant and you're going to be displaced and everybody'sgoing to be miserable. It's going to be dirty, yuck. But the end result is theright. That's where you want to be.


But do pay a little extra to get the designer in upfrontbecause I went through a house remodel a couple years ago and having thedesigner tell me, you could get a tonne more space if you do this storagespace, or if you do that, you're going to save money here because blah, blah,blah. Or instead of going to the home store and picking out there's 150doorknobs or whatever, here's five, I know your style. Now you pick one ofthese five, it is so worth it, having an expert who's looked at all of this narroweverything down for you and get you to the right decisions. And at the end ofthe day, your result is so much better. I have a much more beautiful house withmuch better storage, higher quality, everything, and I paid a little more andI'm so happy for it.


And that is really how you need to be thinking of thesethings. It's exactly the same when you think about it. The content isdifferent, but the process and the results are exactly the same. And so what Imean by that is we get called into the 10 person legal department who's nowimplementing an IR type CLM, where you're like, this was way overkill for youand you're going to be spending way more money than you need on a tool when infact all you really needed was a good workflow tool and a repository that you'vealready got access to. It just needs to be set up differently. And then you endup in this situation where your lawyers are trying to work in this complextool, they don't like it, they'd, they'd rather just do email and word orwhatever. They didn't do that work of, it's the same thing when we talked aboutdoing that assessment and talking to as many people as possible.


They didn't do the work of really understand talking toall the stakeholders, understanding what their business requirements were andunderstanding what their use cases are. And so it's so important, and what wedo, Evan, this because worked together for a long time. Now we go into a clientand we really dig in on what do they need. And we're lucky we have a team ofexperts who have been doing this for a long time internally and as consultants,and so they know what questions to ask. It is helpful when a lawyer says, Ineed this, and we can dig in and say, but do you really need this? Or can thissolve your problems? So it's helpful to that expertise who, alright, if youneed this, it does put you into an Icertis, but if we can get you there bydoing this, then you're fine with the lower common denominator in terms oftechnology.


So you need to know what questions to ask. It's helpful ifyou know that, but to the extent that you could really map out yourrequirements and use cases, which is so critical, what are the three use casesthat you really need this tool for? And then when you go out and do the demosand to get to the tools, then that's fine to have those conversations like,Hey, I really need a tool that does A, B, C. And then you have friends andcolleagues from other companies saying, we use this tool or whatever. You usesomebody like us. Well, we do all that research for you. Well, we know thetools, so we could say these are then the three technologies that you need tolook at. But then the important thing, Evan, is they need to demo that to you.And the reason I say it, and it sounds so obvious, but so often I thinkcompanies will, legal teams, this is not their expertise.


By the way, I am not trying to sound mean or whatever. Iget it, this isn't what you do. I'm not a home designer. I didn't know what Iwas doing in that area. And so really what you want is you go to these toolsand you say, what we do with our clients, but you should be doing this, theseare the three use cases you must demo for them. And so this way when theclients look at, okay, they've done three demos, they can compare apples toapples because you can see exactly how each of these companies, these vendorsdo solve for whatever these three use cases are, then the vendor can show youwhatever else they want to show you. But otherwise, if you don't control itlike that, and it's so important, if you don't control it like that, what endsup happening is that the technology company will just come in and show you whatthey're good at of course.


And they'll show you their AI is so great. Well, sure,because you've done this demo a million times, and of course it's so quickbecause you've run through the same dataset over and over again. So you reallywant to be specific with your use cases and you want the companies to demo youruse cases exactly as they would solve for them. And then you can rate andcompare apples to apples, and then you do reference checks. And what I mean bythat is they're going to give you, I say, Hey, checkbox, tell me we're thinkingabout hiring you and you give me three companies who love you. Of course, it'slike doing a job reference. I'm not going to give them somebody who hates me.I'm going to give them three people who adore me and they're going to say allthese nice things about me. But then it's really up to you to go out and sitand figure out who else they're using and find some colleagues who will giveyou some honest feedback. They're not their flagship clients. And then this wayyou can really dig in and say, okay, what were the lessons learned? What was itlike to work with them? What was post execution support, all of it. So you canask those questions and I think that's how you get to a good solution for yourcompany and a good partnership with that vendor.

Evan Wong (31:26):

That's incredible advice and so actionable. And I thinkyou've really laid out almost like the procedure in looking at different tech.If we were, because I know that you've said to me before a lot of people cometo you maybe already having signed the contract or believe that they are inneed of a clm. And I think you used the example, it's a very common examplebecause of all the noise around CLM nowadays, when do you know that you need aCLM versus say, a workflow tool, which often can meet a lot of the sameoutcomes and perhaps in different ways. Can you help people understand a bit asto maybe when A CLM is appropriate versus when a more generic legal workflowautomation platform is appropriate?

Stephanie Corey (32:19):

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it's a hard question to answerbecause there are a lot of factors that go into it. And I think some of it isbased on emotional stuff that also is tough to kind of measure in terms ifyou've got a team of people who have zero interest in technology, they're veryset in their own ways. They've been negotiating everything in email and wordand all of that for a long time. I'm starting there because I want to say, asan operations professional or as a GC who's leading this change, you're goingto use chits in terms of saying you have to do this and change how you do work.So really understanding the culture and the willingness to do thingsdifferently is important because if you've got a team who's it's going to bejust so painful, then that's a clue to us that maybe you guys aren't ready fora full CLM and it's going to be painful because you're getting people tooperate differently.


And so really looking at willingness I think is important.My biggest failures in my career when I was in-house was trying to shove thingsdown people's throats that they didn't want. I knew it was the right thing todo. I knew it was right for the department. I knew it was right for efficiency,but they didn't want it. And so people aren't going to adopt if you don't dothe proper change management. Now sometimes you can do great change managementrally people, and there's literally experts out there who are change managementexperts who will help you get your first champion on board and then you couldwin more people over. But that's a lot of effort. So I think reallyunderstanding the culture is critical. And then you want to dive into what areyour needs? And so a lot of times people will say, we need ACL M.


That's 80% of the work that we do as contracting work inthis department, but we also want to be able to track how many requests for X,Y, Z we're getting in, or we want to know how long it's taking to get justbasic legal requests answered. We want to know what work is going to whom workis coming in from every direction. We have no idea how to manage it. The GCwill say to me, we've got outside counsel kind of nailed because we have a goode-billing system in place and we know what matters our firms are working on andall of that. But I have no idea what's happening in my department, which isvery common because legal departments don't usually track time, right? That'swhy everybody left the law firm so they don't track time. And so talking, whenI start having those kinds of conversations with folks, I want to figure out,well, first of all, it's taking too long to get stuff done.


It was sitting on Sam's desk here for two weeks, but hewas out of the office and then when he got back, he realised it wasn't even forhim, so he forwarded it to Tyra and now she's trying to figure out who theright person is and blah, blah, blah. It's all that back and forth. That's asign to me that okay, they're really looking at intake and workflow andspeeding up those processes. If we're having conversations around, I need toknow, and by the way, once we start having conversations around, I need to knowwhat data is in my contracts. Two years ago that would've been to me a allright, let's look at CLM and repositories and really figuring out postexecution, what's happening, what's happening during the contract negotiationprocess. But I would say things are changing pretty quickly. And so the AI thatyou've got now that can actually, once you get everything done and it's sittingin a repository, it is better Now, I would not have ever told a company yearsago to implement IBM Watson or whatever the AI tools were, right?


Because none of the legal departments I ever worked with,they didn't have the volume to train these tools and it was not worth theexpense. You could use a partner maybe that does that, but you should not begoing anywhere near that. It's a different story. Now you've got these AI toolsthat can read through and that's what they do, data extraction, and they'regood at it. And so even as we start talking about figuring out what's in yourcontracts, my brain doesn't automatically go to CLM then anymore. It goes to,oh, all right, data extraction and some AI tools might be interesting here. Soit could be a workflow tool plus just a good, or if the workflow has AI in it,great, but the tech is changing so fast that I find that it used to be moreclear in terms of, oh, we need to know cycle times.


We need to know the contract complexity. We need to knowthis or that to me signalled CLM, it's very evident versus I just need to knowwhat work is happening in my department, what work is coming in, where it'sgoing, how long it's taking. That was a clear delineation and now it's not asclear. So that is a terrible answer I think to agree question of the signalsare a little bit different and the technology is evolving so quickly, and Ithink even by the end of the year it's going to look different than what itlooked like last year and two years ago that it's not quite as clear. So youreally need to dig in and understand the use cases again, and then demo, do thedemos and see what gets you there.

Evan Wong (37:49):

I was going to say it feeds right back into your previouspoint, which is you're really going to be looking at your own unique use casesand requirements and challenges, and then having vendors come in and show howtheir product solves that specific problem. And the reference customers are away to understand elements of support and just generally how the life cycleplays out. But ultimately, you can't just rip out a vendor from another GC thatyou've spoken to at an event and say, well, because they're using it, we'reprobably good to use it as well. It's not

Stephanie Corey (38:24):

That I think you're almost guaranteed failure if you dothat unless your departments are exactly the same and your culture is exactlythe same and your businesses are so similar. If you can find somebody thatmirrors you might be fine, but there's too many variables that go into it.

Evan Wong (38:43):

Right? Okay. So let's say we are designing this roadmap.Now when we know we've done that exercise, we know the types of technologiesand processes that we want to implement on this roadmap, but most cases thereare a few problems that we're trying to solve and there's a few potentialsolutions that we want to implement. How do you prioritise? How do you knowwhich one should go come first and which ones you put further down the roadmap?Walk me through the prioritisation exercise.

Stephanie Corey (39:17):

Yeah, that's a great question. And again, not to soundlike a lu on the one hand on the other hand, but I would say a lot of it doesdepend on willingness. Again, your success depends on how willing the people onyour team are going to be to adopt everything. And so sometimes when we go inand do whole department assessments and we find 90 things that they need to do,but we say to them, look, you're never going to get through these 90 things. Wejust want to highlight everything that we found. But there's going to be stuffthat you just have to forget about and be willing to say you're never going tosolve for that. But even within the top 20 priorities, let's say, we don'talways go for the biggest bang for your buck initially. We say, look, what'sthe low hanging fruit here where you're going to win friends?


Because again, I am convinced that projects fail becauseof change management, not necessarily because of the technology. It's theproper change management, meaning you've got to get champions on board who aregoing to help you with this. It cannot all come from the ops manager. Peoplewill hate seeing you coming. You get to the point where they're like, oh God,what does she want me to do next? And so you really do need to have the rightfolks helping champion and helping you drive that change. And so a lot of timeswe'll say to clients, look, you need to do these 10 things are a must. Youabsolutely must if you want to get to your goal, and this one thing would saveyou guys millions, it would blah, blah, blah, solve all of these problems, butit's a bigger deal and there's an impact in terms of time and it's going to bekind of a pain.


So let's start right here with this super simple thing.And if you solve for this, you're going to start to win people over. And I takethe same approach when we look at implementing tech tools. You're right,there's not one tool that's going to do everything for you. So sometimes it'slike, let's take a workflow tool plus something. And so I think what you reallyhave to do is, again, you're going back to your use cases and priorities. Ifyou have something that's really driving the team crazy or driving clientscrazy and you can solve for that, that's the priority you want to tackle first.And again, you want it to be impactful. And so then that's the tool, the tool,going back to our conversation about don't let the tech tail wag the strategydog. You want to make sure that whatever you're implementing is solvingsomething.


And so if literally if the GC is like, I have no idea whatwork is even happening in the department, so let's do intake, let's start rightthere because that's relatively easy compared to what it used to be, right? Toget you in a good tool to do a couple of workflows to start building it out.And those types of things really build on themselves too, because once peoplestart to see not only the value but the benefit that they could get from it,like, oh, I'm able to get all of this information that I was never able to getand it's getting it out of my email. So instead of trying to recreate and trackeverything in Outlook, now you've got a tool that you're slowing down all theseemail conversations and what was the last conversation I had with this person?Or whatever, you're getting it into a centralised location and then people willstart to say, oh, you know what?


I could submit all my approvals this way, anything,whatever that I need an approval on, we can just set up a quick workflow forit. So those types of tools really build on themselves. That's why we're suchfans. But I would say in terms of figuring out what to prioritise first, it'sdefinitely whatever your biggest pain points are, but you have to considerthose other things cost. Do you have the expertise to do it? Do you have theinternal bandwidth to do it? Do you have the will to do it? You can't discountthose things is what I'm saying, because it could fail miserably frankly. Youmight have the budget for it and everything, and then you find that just nobodyinternally, these aren't magical magic wand kind of things. It takes time andeffort and if you don't have that, it's not going to be successful.

Evan Wong (43:45):

Yeah, it sounds like if you had the luxury going after thelow hanging fruit is always going to be a better option, the lowest sort ofrisky path to start building some goodwill within the organisation throughchange and actually delivering value quickly. It doesn't have to be tremendousamounts of value from the get go. And I say you have the privilege becausesometimes to your point, maybe you do have to deliver that big thing

Stephanie Corey (44:10):

You do and you

Evan Wong (44:11):

Have that one shot, but if you have the choice, it soundslike taking the path where maybe you're not solving for the most importantthing out the gate, but it's something that you know can get out quickly anddeliver value, build up goodwill, and then get more budget, more buy-in for thenext project. And so

Stephanie Corey (44:27):

Exactly. And credibility because solved for, and peopleare happy with, oh wow, yeah, they solved this little problem. And then you getcredibility and you build that reputation. And I think that is reallyimportant. And you're right. I mean we always say, I have to figure out abetter way to say this because I don't know that it's the right way to say it,but we always kind of go for that lowest common denominator in terms oftechnology. If a simple less expensive tool can get you there, that's what youwant. You don't want the Cadillac if, I mean it's overkill and lawyers don'tlike it, frankly. So you're increasing your chance of success with the lowercommon denominator. Somebody help me figure out a better way to say that. But Ithink you know what I'm saying, if a more simplistic tool is just people aregoing to adopt it, think about your iPhone. You don't need a training team tocome in and tell you how to use an app. It's obvious, it's easy. That's reallywhere we're heading.

Evan Wong (45:28):

Absolutely. Okay, so final pieces. We've come with thestrategy, we've cascaded it down from corporate and we've done all theinterviews and we've gone out and spoke to vendors and we've done the roundsand now we know exactly what we want, not because our peers are doing it,because we've looked at our own use cases, our own requirements, and we'vemarried it all up and we've prioritised and we've prioritised thinking aboutsize of value and risk and all that kind of stuff. So then it comes to communicatingthat roadmap to your manager, to the CLO, to the broader business. How do youactually communicate your roadmap? And I have something here from you, Steph,that you sent me for. So I'm going to share my screen and pop something up. Iassume this is what you shouldn't do.

Stephanie Corey (46:22):

That's right. This is like the visual representation ofour 80 page document that you shouldn't do. It's overly complicated. It's amess. People will look at it and they'll throw up all over it. Frankly, you'llget nowhere trying to shop this around.

Evan Wong (46:39):

This looks like the floor plans of a train system orsomething like that. Alright, so we don't want to do this, we don't want to dothis. And you were kind to share with me also an example of how it could looklike. So walk us through this, what's going on here?

Stephanie Corey (46:57):

So it's much cleaner, I think, easier visually, moreappealing, and it's just an example of what a roadmap could look like. But onething, and again, this is your one pager, Evan, you talked about it earlier,having that one pager of the strategy is so important for a variety of reasons.One of them being when somebody comes to you and says, Hey, now we need this,whatever, they saw this beautiful demo of something and we need to do this, butthese are plans for the next whatever quarters, years, however you structureyour roadmap, what needs to be bumped in order for us to do this? And then youcan have that conversation of somebody down in the organisation isn't going tobump somebody's big project up in the organisation just because they want toget something done, but you can have those conversations around priority usinga visualisation such as this.


And one thing that I want to point out that's important isyou should include process as part of the technology. And so in the lighterblue, the aqua type colour, these are really are our process. So a lot ofpeople just call it a tech roadmap and we like to add in process because it'sso important, it's so important and it's not fun and everybody hates doing itand nobody wants to harmonise templates and nobody wants to process map stuff.But if you don't do that, your chances of a successful tech implementation fallgreatly. And so to the extent that you could really figure out, okay, we'regoing to do, I am making this up, but if we keeping with our example ofimplementing a full CLM, let's say we decide we do need to do that, we're goingto do that, we're going to be starting second half of the year or whatever,then you need to be spending that first half of the year doing that readinesswork, which is looking at your templates.


Do you have process maps? Do you have rules of engagementfor when to come to legal for contracts or is this something that the businesscan do because a lower threshold, yada yada, those questions need to beanswered first or else you've signed a contract with these complex toolsusually pretty expensive and you're sitting on it, you're paying for a tool andyou're sitting on it because you can't implement it, you haven't done any ofthis readiness work. And so it's so important to include processes part of thisbecause it's a big consideration. Otherwise people don't understand thecomplexity. They never understand. By the way, that's something that we'restill trying to get clients and in-house teams understand how difficult it isto actually do these things. It actually requires brains and hard work and it'sa lot, right? And so if you can kind of show them like, yeah, we can definitelydo this, but you're looking at four to six months of work prior to actuallyimplementing a tool like this, it's very, very important to show them that.

Evan Wong (49:51):

Absolutely, and I think I take the analogy when I say thisand when you're talking about kind of like if you looked at someone's workcalendar and you looked at all the meetings that they had in there, the blocksin the calendar, and you think, oh, there's gaps in between meetings, they mustbe free. No, but there's desk work, there's times to follow up emails andthings like that. And it's almost like unless you map out those types of areasof work where it might not be in meetings, but you're actually doing desk workand building a deck and whatever it may be, then you don't realise that thereis actually a lot of bandwidth needs to go into dedicating into that kind ofwork you end up. And so in the same way that you're planning a tech roadmap, ifyou don't map out the process work that comes before and after, then you'regoing to end up probably planning for more than you can actually consume or youcan't communicate how much work there actually is in delivering on theoutcomes.

Stephanie Corey (50:49):

Absolutely. That's a great way to summarise what I justsaid. That's right.

Evan Wong (50:56):

Fantastic. And I think there was one more. This is justthen drip feeding it into almost a more narrow

Stephanie Corey (51:04):

Exactly. And everybody likes to look at thingsdifferently. So I gave you two examples of you can look at that overarchingroadmap of, I think it was a three-year roadmap that we were just looking at,but then if you really want to dive in deeper and you could, if you're atrained project manager for each of these, you can really go deep in terms ofbuilding out tasks and yada yada for every single thing. But this is again,just another kind of visualisation of, okay, let's look at what our year onepriorities are and what resources are we going to need. That's the question youneed to then be asking. This is not just a pretty chart, right? It's okay, butwhat does this mean for us? How many people are we going to need on this? Do weneed external help? Do we want to bring in a partner who's going to help withthis and so this should help you ask those questions of, or when somethingcomes along like a war in another country that we weren't expecting and nowthat's, or a pandemic or whatever, how do we shift those things the right waywithout dropping important things that we really do need to push forward?

Evan Wong (52:24):

Absolutely. Wow, what a conversation we got there. We wentfrom right at the very beginning strategy and all the way through to getting tothat visual roadmap at the end. I've had such a great time on thisconversation, I've learned so much. Just every single time I speak with you,I'm sure everyone else has as well. By the way, if you've never heard of Linkand you want to get involved, definitely give Steph a reach out and if you needanything, help with your legal operations journey as well. Uplevel

Stephanie Corey (52:57):

Up, have a bunch of events we're doing, as you said, Evan,we're doing live events and we do webinars, and so it's a free organisation.And the reason we started it was because Clock is, so I still encourage clientsto drink Clock, obviously, and I go every year, but it's a huge organisation.And so we wanted to have those smaller conversations, the smaller groupconversations when Clock was little, and we had our very first meeting yearsago at HP's offices when I was back there and there were 15 of us in a roomthat felt great. You could really share information. And so we try to do thoselocal meetings now and they're free to you thanks to wonderful sponsors likeyou, Evan, who pay for the venues and the food and all of that. And so please,it's open to, we hope for a community of people who run legal operations, butif lawyers are out there doing legal operations, you're welcome to join and wewant to keep those conversations going. And like you learned from me, Evan, Ilearned from you and I learn from every conversation I have with thiscommunity. And so we want to keep those dialogues going.

Evan Wong (54:07):

Amazing. Speaking of keeping dialogues going, we make itvery easy if you would like to keep the dialogue going, so I'm launching a pollhere that literally if you want to chat after this, you can just click yes inone of these polls and Villa we'll link up with you. But otherwise, we're atthe end, I think of our session together here today. Steph, thank you so muchagain for your time. Always really grateful to spend time with you and

Stephanie Corey (54:35):

As a professional. I mean, we stay vendor agnostic asanyone who works with us knows we don't get paid by the vendors to do any ofthe work we do, but we love checkbox. We're big, big fans, and so that's mylittle plug for you. We love Evan Evan's whole team is fantastic, and checkboxis really, truly a wonderful tool.

Evan Wong (54:54):

Thank you. Thanks, Steph. I really appreciate that. Allright. With that we'll close up. Thanks again step and thanks everyone forjoining us today. We appreciate you spending our time with us. All right, takeyou the next one. Bye.

Stephanie Corey (55:07):

Thank you. Take care. Bye.

Evan Wong (55:11):

Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of Go Withthe Workflow. If you found a valuable, you can subscribe to the show on yourfavourite podcast app like Spotify or Apple Podcast. Also, please considergiving us a rating or leave a review as that really helps other listeners findthe podcast too. That's all for now, so we'll see you at the next episode.

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