chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
May 19, 2022 Practice Management

How to drive law department transformation through legal operations

By Ari Kaplan
"Technology moves so quickly and constantly offers new opportunities for operational excellence." Mike Haven says.

"Technology moves so quickly and constantly offers new opportunities for operational excellence." Mike Haven says.

Stock photo

Ari Kaplan recently spoke with Mike Haven, the head of legal operations at Intel and the president of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.

Ari Kaplan: Tell us about your role at Intel and with the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.

Mike Haven: I lead the legal operations team at Intel, where we are building world-class programs on vendor management, strategic outsourcing, contract and information solutions, technology and automation, and education and training, among a wide spectrum of services. I also serve as the president of CLOC, which is the largest and fastest-growing peer association for the legal operations ecosystem. In that role, my primary responsibility is to lead the board and set strategy for the organization, but I also work closely with our executive director, Betsi Roach, who along with her staff is responsible for day-to-day execution.

Ari Kaplan: How has the legal operations sector evolved since you first entered the field almost a decade ago?

Mike Haven: It has grown tremendously, both in size and scope. Ten years ago, there were very few legal ops roles. They had begun to take hold in some large financial institutions on the East Coast and in some Silicon Valley tech companies, but it was a tiny percentage of corporate legal departments overall. At the time, the role was primarily focused on finance. Today, legal operations is now a well-known and respected field, and we’re seeing ops roles popping up all over the place. I do not have the percentage of departments that have adopted it today off the top of my head, but I would not be surprised if it is well over a majority at this point. Chief legal officers also understand and appreciate the value that the role brings, so it is expanding far beyond the financial elements. CLOC has played a major role in this growth, and the influence of the CLOC community continues to make an impact on the expansion and explosion of the field.

Ari Kaplan: Where are legal operations leaders seeing opportunities in the current market?

Mike Haven: Technology moves so quickly and constantly offers new opportunities for operational excellence. While it cannot solve all problems, it can be a major game changer if used correctly. For example, process automation technologies like no-code workflow automation, bots and artificial intelligence are adding significant value in sophisticated law departments these days, which helps to scale the incremental business demand that every GC is facing year after year. At the CLOC Global Institute, a major theme was contract lifecycle technology, which is absolutely exploding. Essentially, that technology helps departments scale their contracting processes and includes some automation functionality. I love this technology because if used correctly, it can help increase deal velocity and drive revenue, which has a direct impact on the success of the business.

Ari Kaplan: Where do you see legal operations leaders facing challenges?

Mike Haven: Everywhere. Nothing is easy. Even the opportunities that seem obvious can be met with resistance if they change the way people are used to working. Change is very hard. We offered great content on change management at the CLOC Global Institute, with insights on ways to overcome reticence to work differently.

Ari Kaplan: How did you approach your leadership of CLOC during the pandemic?

Mike Haven: We had to get creative and find new ways to connect with our members and to connect our members through virtual institutes, podcasts and webinars. It was amazing how well our staff was able to pivot and offer valuable content despite the challenging circumstances. We received great feedback on these virtual offerings and managed to grow 35% during the pandemic. After I assumed the role of president, CLOC expanded its membership to include other sectors beyond corporate law departments and law firms, such as law companies, academic institutions and technology providers. We also placed a heightened emphasis on diversity and inclusion, which is now a major pillar of our strategy to empower diverse legal operations professionals and to bring more into the field. We now have a highly energetic, focused committee working to do great things in this area, which I believe is vital to the continued growth of the legal ops field and overall progress in the legal industry.

Ari Kaplan: What kind of feedback or impressions did you receive about the 2022 CLOC Global Institute?

Mike Haven: We received incredibly positive feedback. Our attendees loved the themes of connection, creativity and wellness. They found the session content to be insightful, practical and entertaining and had a blast enjoying each other’s company at the many evening events our sponsors so generously hosted. It was a resounding success, and many are calling it the best CLOC Global Institute yet.

Ari Kaplan: What was unique about this year’s event?

Mike Haven: There was a heavy focus on connection coming out of the pandemic, as even the most extroverted people became a more introverted version of themselves. It took courage for them to come. It was awkward for many people to be suddenly thrust back into a massive conference of 2,500-plus people, so in the opening session, we did an engaging exercise to help people adapt to being back in a room with many others to find that inner extrovert and feel more comfortable, which required vulnerability and trust on the part of everyone. We also focused on wellness and mindfulness, as there is a recognition coming out of the pandemic that everyone needs to take care of themselves in new ways, using methods that often were overlooked before, and that doing so not only helps us personally but also professionally. We wanted to support that because we believe it makes a big difference, and it was very well received.

Ari Kaplan: Where do you see legal operations headed?

Mike Haven: We’re not even close to done growing this field. Eventually, every law department will have the role in place, and it will become more proactive and strategic. Legal ops has transformed the business and practice of law, but I believe the best is yet to come, and the CLOC community will continue to lead that charge.

Listen to the complete interview at Reinventing Professionals.

Ari Kaplan regularly interviews leaders in the legal industry and in the broader professional services community to share perspective, highlight transformative change and introduce new technology at his blog and on iTunes.

This column reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the views of the ABA Journal—or the American Bar Association.