What is the ideal profile for a CLOO?

By Sharon Golec on Monday, October 14th 2019
Recrutement juridique

Data mining, metrics, technology solutions…these are not usually the strong points of in-house lawyers or General Counsel.  Enter the Chief Legal Operations Officer or CLOO.  This rapidly developing function is present in 47% of companies surveyed by the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) in 2018.  According to the 2019 State of the Industry survey conducted by the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC), the professional association of CLOO, 39 % of companies participating in the survey increased the size of their legal operations teams in 2018, demonstrating that the CLO function is recognized as a source of significant added value.  

The Legal Operations manager is responsible for running the “business” or the legal department. He or she takes responsibility for areas such as process improvement, implementing technological solutions, data analysis and metrics, budget management, financial analysis, vendor management… CLOC has published a reference model of 12 core competencies for legal operations, available on the CLOC website.

What is the ideal profile for a CLOO?  Is the best choice a lawyer who wishes to step into a role which is more oriented toward the “business” of law as opposed to giving legal advice?  Or should a non-legal profile with experience in finance, auditing, data analytics, and/or project management be preferred? A recent study published by  BusyLamp, a legal operations software developer,  provides a good analysis of the plusses and minuses of these two types of profiles, and concludes that there is there is no clear winner…However, it appears that their data comes down on the side of the “non-legal” profile, which often brings more expertise in data-intensive areas such as analyzing and forecasting legal spend, creating and implementing KPI, choosing and implementing technology solutions, and project management.  The ideal CLO team would be a transversal team including members with non-legal skills, as well as legal professionals with the necessary non-legal skills, who will also bring an in-depth understanding of legal departments’ needs. 
In France, only the largest CAC 40 groups currently employ legal operations professionals, but the function will certainly develop, providing yet another career opportunity for lawyers who would like to transition to a more data-driven, transversal role, without leaving the legal department…The CLOO role joins the growing list of new career opportunities for lawyers.  This list already includes roles such as Compliance Officers, Contract Managers, and Knowledge Management Lawyers.  Additional new career paths will include Legal Project Managers, Legal Data Scientists, Legal Coders, and may others…

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