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Legal Ops Luminaries Share Insights on Navigating 2024’s Legal Tech Landscape

As the legal industry continues to evolve, Jenn McCarron, the head of technology and legal operations at Netflix, and Mary O’Carroll, chief community officer at Ironclad and a former Google Legal executive, offer invaluable advice for legal ops professionals navigating the dynamic landscape of 2024. Their annual legal operations webinar has become a beacon for sharing insights and strategies.

Embracing Tactical Empathy in Legal Operations

McCarron emphasizes the importance of “tactical empathy” in legal ops, a skill crucial for understanding and addressing internal clients’ issues. Despite the rise of artificial intelligence in legal departments, forming genuine relationships remains key. McCarron stresses the need for legal ops professionals to listen empathetically and work collaboratively on solutions. “Seventy percent of the role is listening and understanding empathetically what they see through their eyes, the pain of the workflow, the problem,” she explains.

Overcoming Resistance and Implementing Change

Both O’Carroll and McCarron discuss the challenges of influencing without authority and getting buy-in from leadership in traditionally change-resistant legal departments. They suggest that legal ops professionals should delve deeper than surface-level requests to truly understand and address underlying problems. O’Carroll encourages a tactical approach: “Don’t do as you’re told,” she advises, emphasizing the need to identify the real issues behind lawyers’ requests.

The Passion Factor

McCarron shares that expressing passion can be a successful strategy in engaging others, especially when introducing new technology. However, O’Carroll warns of the potential downsides of appearing overly passionate, sharing her own experiences at Google and the need to find a balance. “If you’re just a passion rocket, people will feel torpedoed by you,” McCarron adds, highlighting the importance of moderation.

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Navigating AI Integration in Legal Ops

As AI continues to disrupt the legal industry, McCarron and O’Carroll stress the importance of staying current with technological advancements. They advise against waiting to invest in AI, suggesting that legal ops should at least engage in small-scale experiments or proof-of-concept projects. “You should be experimenting or doing at minimum a small proof of concept,” McCarron notes, underscoring the necessity of understanding AI’s capabilities and limitations.

The Future Skills for Legal Ops

Looking forward to 2024 and beyond, the experts predict that personal relationships, confidence-building, and effective collaboration will be vital skills in the AI-altered legal landscape. They emphasize the need for legal ops professionals to be aware of emerging technologies and to avoid falling behind in a rapidly changing environment.

Conclusion: Adaptability and Forward-Thinking

The insights from McCarron and O’Carroll present a roadmap for legal ops professionals to navigate the complexities of 2024’s legal tech landscape. Their emphasis on tactical empathy, passion, and proactive engagement with AI highlights the need for a balance between technological prowess and human insight. As the legal industry continues to evolve, these insights provide valuable guidance for legal ops professionals striving to stay ahead in an increasingly tech-driven world.

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