ACC Legal Ops Observer - May 13, 2019

Xchange19 Conference Overview: An Opportunity to Recognize Excellence and Embrace Change
By Rachel M. Zahorsky, Esq., Novus Law LLC. Follow her on Twitter @NovusLawLLC

ACC Legal Operations celebrated another successful annual conference – this year joining in-house counsel colleagues in Minneapolis for the 2019 ACC Xchange. With tracks dedicated to both legal operations and general law department issues, the event included renowned speakers and top-notch faculty, and hosted a Solutions Hub where attendees were able to design their own agenda - joining roundtable discussions, attending Tech Talks, convening meet-ups and checking out service supplier demos. 
The ACC Legal Operations section also recognized excellence among its members, interest groups and the legal operations team of the year in an awards ceremony (more information and the winners are included below!). 
Featured speaker Cara Hale Alter, author of The Credibility Code and founder and president of SpeechSkills, an award-winning San Francisco-based communication training company spoke to a standing-room-only crowd about leadership presence and personal power – which included insights into the cues that lead us to these impressions, such as nuances in voice, posture, and even unconscious communication gestures. (Hint: There’s a reason eagles and owls are considered regal and wise; their eyes and nose align in the same direction and they swivel their heads to gaze upon an entire event without twisting their bodies about!)
The key to credibility, Alter shared, “is calibrating the difference between average and optimal. If you are hanging out in the average zone [when it comes to presence and presenting] you miss the opportunity to be exceptional.” 
This includes a more confident stance, more authoritative tone, and more crisp annunciation. “It’s not about being technically understood,” she said, “it’s about helping someone get the right impression of you.”  
As an extension of that theme, many of the legal operations courses included detailed tactics to ensure the rest of the legal department, from general counsels to junior lawyers, have the right impression of the value of fully embracing the transformative ability of dedicated operations teams. 
We’ve highlighted take-aways from some of the great sessions below and encourage everyone to check out the full library of materials for more exceptional content from of our faculty members! 
Also be sure to check out some additional 2019 Xchange coverage from LegalTech News on NDAs and DPAs (here) and marketing with metrics (here)!
Rachel M. Zahorsky, Esq., is Director, Client Solutions at Novus Law LLC. She is responsible for developing marketing and business development strategies, overseeing internal and external communication, and preparing media content for the firm. She is a former legal affairs journalist for the ABA Journal where she co-authored the award-winning Paradigm Shift series, which discusses how the current economic and technology climate is changing the future of the legal profession. She is also a contributing editor of the ACC Legal Ops Observer newsletter. Rachel received a Juris Doctor from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law and a Master of Science degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. You can reach her via email at and on LinkedIn.

ACC Honors Legal Operations Award Winners
For the second year, the Association of Corporate Counsel presented awards to outstanding Legal Operations teams and individuals at the annual ACC conference. 
Legal Operations Team of the Year
Liberty Mutual Legal Strategic Services, the 2019 ACC Legal Operations Team of the Year, was honored for delivering innovative yet pragmatic solutions to advance the interests of internal business partners and company policyholders. The legal operations staff enables the entire law department to function at a high level. 
At Liberty Mutual, legal operations professionals lead change management, including design thinking challenges; implement contracts solutions that make use of AI and risk calibration; manage a diverse array of external resources; and create continuous learning programs for all lawyers and department staff. The team also develops highly-curated dashboards to track metrics; sets clear 
benchmarks; undertakes process improvement at every step, and manages advanced technology systems. In addition, Liberty Mutual legal professionals are active contributors to the broader profession, sharing their knowledge via the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model toolkit and series, serving as faculty for ACC conferences, and chairing the Strategic Planning Interest Group.
Legal Operations Members of the Year
Lisa Ripley (Director – eDiscovery and information governance, Oracle) and Daniel Young (legal operations manager, Boston Scientific) were named 2019 ACC Legal Operations Members of the Year. Young co-chaired the Metrics and Analytics Interest Group, served as faculty for two legal operations boot camps, and championed ACC Legal Operations to peers online. Ripley led the Tools & Technology Interest Group, served as boot camp faculty, and was always quick to help other legal operations colleagues with projects or questions.


Legal Operations Interest Group of the Year
External Resources Management, led by Melissa Dehonney (Novo Nordisk), Samantha Frasso (TIAA) and Kendra Nowak (Express Scripts), was named 2019 ACC Legal Operations Interest Group of the Year. The group focuses on best practices when managing outside counsel, LPOs, vendors, and outside consultants, and provided strong content and speakers for legal operations programming throughout the year. 

Value-Based Fees: Two Sessions Featured Alternative Pricing Models to Consider
By Abagail T. Adams, Esq., Director of Legal Management Services, ACC
Alternative Fee Agreements and Spend Management: 
What Works, What Does Not, and What Saves the Most
Faculty: Nathan Cemenska, Director of Legal Operations and Industry Insights, Wolters Kluwers; Markus Hartmann, Vice President, Technical Compliance, Mercedes-Benz R&D North America, Inc.; Jill Jacobson, Vice President and General Counsel, Americas, Husqvarna Group
Implementing Value-based Fees: 
Practical Advice and a Chance to Practice
Faculty: Kathryn Kirmayer, General Counsel, Association of American Railroads; Joseph Otterstetter, Associate General Counsel, International Operations, 3M; Lisa Damon, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP; Joseph Milcoff, Vice President, Litigation, FedEx Ground
With law firm profitability at an all-time high, it’s not surprising in-house legal departments are exploring alternative fee agreements (AFAs). If you are part of the 50% of the audience at Xchange’s Alternative Fee Agreements and Spend Management session who do not use AFAs, you might not know where to start. 
The panel not only provided an overview of the type of AFAs, but also discussed how these fee structures can benefit both legal departments and outside counsel. Effective AFAs factor in the P&L impact from the point-of-view of both the company and the law firm and allocate risk and reward accordingly. Another benefit of AFAs is that RFP processes tied with AFAs serve as a type of early case assessment, providing the legal department with insight into the law firm’s perspective on the cost and duration of their matters. While these insights can be useful, one must keep in mind that AFAs cannot predict outcomes. They are about sharing both risks and rewards. 
Attendees of the conference also had the opportunity to receive hands-on, practical experience in the use of AFAs during Sunday’s workshop, Implementing Value-based Fees. Not only did they get the chance to learn the value of AFAs from an “all-star” group of faculty, they were also provided the opportunity to create their own alternative fee agreement. Participants were divided into two groups: Half were assigned the role of outside counsel and the other half were in-house counsel. Each were given an overlapping set of facts, with their own objectives, and instructed to negotiate a fee structure through the lens of their assigned roles. Attendees left this session with valuable experience to apply to AFA strategies and negotiations going forward. 
Missed these sessions? Not to worry – the suite of tailored ACC Legal Services Management programs are offered to corporate legal departments.  
Abigail T. Adams, Esq., is the Director of Legal Management Services for the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). She is responsible for running their Legal Services Management program, coordinating the ACC Value Champion program, and serving members’ needs. Abby formerly worked as a litigator and in-house counsel with operational duties, giving her a unique understanding of ACC’s Legal Operations members’ circumstances and challenges.

Creative Solutions for Legal Operations Teams Facing Resource Optimization Challenges
By Rachel M. Zahorsky, Esq., Novus Law LLC. Follow her on Twitter @NovusLawLLC
Session 201
Faculty: Lauren Chung, Practice Group Leader, Strategy and Operations, HBR Consulting LLCW. Brian Edge, Vice President, GBSC Legal Services, MastercardLaurie Hansen, Director, Legal Management and Operations, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co.Maureen Harms, Associate General Counsel, 3M Company
As legal demands increase, many legal departments are answering the call to action by asking more of their existing resources – an unsustainable model at best! Instead, it’s imperative for legal operations teams to bring creative solutions for leveraging resources that can easily be adopted by their colleagues. Do those doing the work have the right skill-sets? What is the internal bandwidth? Has the legal department properly evaluated the risks? Is the complexity of the work aligned to the costs to complete? 
Legal departments wrestle with these questions (or should be) for every engagement, project, and new initiative that comes their way. And once the work is assigned, more questions often appear. For example, how is it proactively managed? Who is monitoring the process and status for internal and external resources?  
The faculty of this session guided attendees through the evolution of law department resourcing: From when in-house lawyer seniority dictating staffing and law firm selection was based on individual attorney preferences, to the best practices of today. At Mutual of Omaha, MasterCard, and 3M, metrics and data drive decisions, legal operations teams emphasize the efficiency of attorney self-service and automation for routine tasks, and creating paths to utilize and advance key support players, such as paralegals and other professionals. The growth and sophistication of alternative service providers and law companies also provides opportunities to thoughtfully leverage lower-cost providers without sacrificing quality (some even deliver more accurate and transparent services than traditional models) to boost efficiency. No matter what steps are ultimately taken, all of the faculty members agreed that communication is key.  
“If you don’t tell your team what you’re doing and why, they will fill in the narrative for you,” said W. Brian Edge, VP GBSE Legal Services, MasterCard. One common, and hurtful, misconception is for colleagues to assume that all changes stem from cost cutting rather than redesigning roles to be more strategic and of value to the business, he said. 

Design Thinking Requires Creativity and Flexibility, and it's Possible in the Legal Department
By Abagail T. Adams, Esq., Director of Legal Management Services, ACC

Faculty: Mohammed Ajaz, Group Head of Legal Operations, National Grid; Laura Maechtlen, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Design thinking certainly is possible and its importance was put front and center at this interactive session. But what exactly is design thinking? To understand its principles, you first need to understand that it is not a “one size fits all” approach. Design thinking requires flexibility and a creative approach to problems, as explained by Mohammed Ajaz (National Grid) and Laura Maechtlen (Seyfarth Shaw).  
Maechtlen provided audience members with insights on design thinking at Seyfarth Shaw, explaining there are elements of lean and strategy, as well as the need to look at how people and technology interact. She outlined different types of design, from information design (how information is processed, which can be as simple as the font on the page) to experience design, which includes looking at products, processes, and services through the lens of their diverse attorneys. Maechtlen emphasized the importance of “failing forward” in design thinking, as prototyping and testing are critical to design thinking – encompassing the old adage “you never know until you try.”
Ajaz took the audience through the steps of starting a design thinking project. He engaged the audience by providing a problem statement regarding the loss of value to law firm clients because of failure to collaborate effectively. Attendees were divided into nine groups and were encouraged to come up with as many causes to the problem as possible. Next, they were enlisted to find solutions – none being “off limits” (including cost). Although everyone was given an identical problem statement, both the causes and solutions varied across groups, and included items such as the need for data-sharing amongst law firms and their clients and proposals for success fees for collaboration. 
Attendees not only left with real tips and tools for design thinking, but an understanding of why design thinking matters – and why it should matter to your law firm.  

Helping Teams Build their own Legal Technology Roadmaps
By Abagail T. Adams, Esq., Director of Legal Management Services, ACC
Faculty: Jodie Baker, Founder and CEO, Xakia, Marc Jenkins, Director, Corporate Counsel, Asurion, Katrina Keiffer, Law Department Senior Manager, Navistar, Inc.
According to a 2018 report by the Consero Group, “legal technology management” was identified as the number one priority for the next 12 months and more than half of legal operations professionals said they planned to spend more on technology. The need for a roadmap was clearly demonstrated when 85% of audience members answered that their legal department has adopted new technology within the past three years, yet only 29% have a dedicated legal technology budget. 
Once the need for a technology roadmap has been identified, the questions that follow are: What is a Technology Roadmap and where do we start? This interactive session not only answered these questions, it also allowed attendees the opportunity to construct a real technology roadmap to be deployed within their own organizations. 
Attendees started building their roadmaps by gathering key information about their department and clients, including budget, IT involvement and company goals. Participants were advised to keep in mind the “business appetite” for certain technologies. As Baker pointed out, Artificial Intelligence might sound like necessary technology, as it’s the new hot item, but it is important to evaluate whether your department has a real need for it.  
Next, attendees were urged to identify their needs by choosing 3-5 technologies for their department and identify the “why” behind each of these technologies by identifying their pain points. They prioritized the technologies by ranking them and considering the risk and ease of implementation for each one. The final step required attendees to do their research by starting with a high-level review of their current technology, available tools and cost expectations, then conducting a more detailed analysis of feature specifications, cost of implementation and ROI.  

Open Discussion of Difficult Issues Help Teams Come Together for the Common Good
By Rachel M. Zahorsky, Esq., Novus Law LLC. Follow her on Twitter @NovusLawLLC
Session 304
Faculty: Jamie Berry, Managing Director, Litigation Services, IntegreonDina Manka, Director, Legal Business Process Management, AbbVieMatthew Stennes, Vice President, Chief Litigation & Investigations Counsel, MedtronicRobert Taylor, Senior Corporate Counsel - Commercial Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
The faculty of this session started by comparing the coming together of legal department professionals to one of the hottest shows on television, Game of Thrones. No, they didn’t imply that the lawyers and legal professionals battle it out for supremacy, but rather how different casts of characters – lawyers, data scientists, paralegals, technologists, finance gurus, and operations professionals –  unite to serve the common good. 
The interactive group solicited the participation of attendees as they shared practical guidance for how general counsel and senior team leaders can cultivate trust and drive accountability throughout the legal department. One best practice highlighted the value of positive group confrontation. Although the idea may cause some initial fear, openly discussing challenges and pain points ultimately lead to shared trust accountability, and drives more efficient, collaborative problem-solving. Instead of a department leader tasked with keeping tabs on individual players, positive group confrontation enables group members to hold themselves responsible for tasks and outcomes. 
Among the significant challenges highlighted by the panelist at public companies is the typical quarterly reporting system, which often over-emphasizes short-sighted objectives that dissuade department leaders from making significant investments in solutions that will bear fruit over time. 
Metrics is one such solution. Circulating dashboards among leadership creates openness and accountability, which counters institutional delays. 
"We’ve helped people to understand their work at a more granular level and understand how to count and measure their work (at Liberty),” said Robert Taylor, Senior Corporate Counsel, Commercial Insurance at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
Reliable data can quickly (and convincingly) change the minds of even the greatest skeptics and instill trust that the cost of doing nothing and maintaining the status quo is far more painful to the organization than the growing pains of embracing new processes and technologies to move the legal department into the future, he added.  

Key Takeaways when Tackling the "Buy or Build?" Question for Law Departments
By Abagail T. Adams, Esq., Director of Legal Management Services, ACC

Faculty: Reese J. Arrowsmith, VP, Head of Operations, Campbell Soup Company; Nitin Batra, Head of Global Legal Services & Productivity, Citibank, N.A.; Cade Lobodzinski, Legal, McAfee LLC; Carol Simcox, Manager of Operations, Legal Department, TE Connectivity; Chase D'Agostino, AVP, Corporate Solutions, QuisLex
Three Key Takeaways:
  • Understand that “time is money.” There are times when you should buy what you need so you can spend time doing what you love (i.e. practicing law), but if you are a builder and you want to make what you need, make sure you have the resources you need for the project (i.e. budget, IT help, and time).
  • The exercise of analyzing both options (build vs. buy), including the process involved, will help you make the right decision.
  • Whether you make the decision to build or buy, if you make the wrong decision, it is important to make a course correction. Consequences can be minimized by keeping key stakeholders involved throughout the process by providing updates and getting user feedback. 
For more information on this topic, you can read this article from Legaltech News: 

AI can Yield Big Gains, but is Best Implemented in Small, Targeted Doses
By Rachel M. Zahorsky, Esq., Novus Law LLC. Follow her on Twitter @NovusLawLLC
Faculty: Jeff Marple, Director of Innovation, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
While the hype around AI is ever-growing, legal departments are currently saving time and money by deploying artificial intelligence technology in small, targeted doses. Jeff Marple, director of innovation at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, shared his team’s advanced practices to prepare for and implement AI tools in useful ways that yield tremendous gains. 
A successful AI implementation is not a simple thing. However the technology can encourage legal departments to think in new ways – often about routine and simple tasks, Marple said. “At Liberty, our innovation team is always asking ‘What does the legal department want to do? Can we deploy AI to reduce cost, improve quality, or even eliminate the commodity work that keeps our colleagues from the work they want to do?' "
Once a use-case is selected, Marple advises his in-house peers to leverage readily-available data thoughtfully and identify the best uniform processes to implement and train the AI (and, the human users!). It’s essential to ask the question, “How do we get everyone aligned?” Marple said. “If you ask two people, will they each do the work differently? Can they conclude the best way to proceed?” Marple asked. “Someone has to decide on the right or correct way to implement. Unsurprisingly it’s often difficult to get agreement on the 'right' way to do something.”
Liberty recently garnered a 10 percent savings just by calibrating a process that is a candidate for an AI implementation. This type of measurable, easy success also helps to win over those who mistrust the technology or instinctively push back against new processes. “The key is to show a successful precedent for using the AI you want to implement from the start and let them see it in action,” Marple said. “Naysayers become feature requestors when you can put something useful quickly into their hands!” 

Five Dimensions of Evolution Lead the Way into the Future for Large Legal Departments
By Catherine J. Moynihan, AVP Legal Management Services, ACC
Faculty: Reese J. Arrowsmith, VP, Head of Operations, Campbell Soup CompanyJennifer Lagunas, VP, Governance, Legal Operations & Assistant Secretary, AbbVieJoseph Milcoff, VP Litigation & Risk, FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.Robert Taylor, VP, Senior Corporate Counsel, Liberty Mutual Group
This session was a summit meeting, of sorts. Law department leaders (deputy and area/division general counsel, practice group and legal operations heads) convened to talk about the horizon five years out, focusing on evolution in five dimensions that drive value for corporations:
  1. Attracting, developing and leveraging the right talent;
  2. Leveraging innovative legal service providers;
  3. Becoming data-driven;
  4. Delegating more to the business side; and
  5. Calibrating risk appetite. 
Talent Development
It was clear from the conversation that being a legal subject matter expert is no longer good enough - and that given the pace of change, those who thought they would retire before upskilling became mandatory are now realizing that stalling is not a viable professional strategy. What’s needed? More leadership and influence skills, business acumen and technical depth – the “T-Shaped Professional,” defined as showing expertise in one or more technical disciplines, combined with the breadth to understand, innovate and effectively communicate how technology and management disciplines can serve the enterprise in a holistic, integrated manner for maximum productivity and customer satisfaction.
The exchange of ideas became particularly meaty when it turned to how to develop that set of skills in-house. Using reward systems is always a go-to, but it was clear as different people spoke up that, “wearing lack of tech skills as a badge [either of honor or shame], is no longer cool, or cute” and is less often being tolerated. One salient point landed: Simply hiring tech- and process-savvy lawyers right out of innovative law schools is provoking more staid, mid-career lawyers to take notice and ask for advice on upping their game. (Hint: Just showing a willingness to get new skills is very important, and going for one is a good start!)
Sourcing Legal Services
After pointing out that the rapid rise of “alternative legal service providers” indicates we should strike the word “alternative,” the discussion leaders elicited advice from those who are outsourcing legal work. Several key points emerged:
  • Make sure that you’re only outsourcing to providers who can meet higher quality standards than in-house resources;
  • Take advantage of the competition and demand more from your law firms. Encourage them to partner with legal service providers to improve client services.
  • Keep an eye on consolidations in the industry and make sure you’re hedging by engaging multiple providers; but, 
  • Don’t get spread too thin. Build deep, strategic partnerships (e.g. through preferred provider model).
  • Don’t overlook pure staffing services that leverage freelancers to supplement in-house resources, and at the same time allow in-house lawyers to focus on being close to the business.
Becoming data-driven
The proposition put forward next was: “If you’re not curating data now, you’re falling behind.” No one disagreed. It was acknowledged that it’s not easy – one company shared that they have a multiyear “data roadmap,” with elements including lining up taxonomies, cleaning up old data, and carefully deciding what data to aggregate. Several of the legal departments represented in the room talked about the benefits of having data scientists in the OGC because they are not only performing the hard work of data management, but they are, as one pointed out, “thinking creatively about what the department is going to need.”
The case is compelling in litigation. The point was made that there's a huge advantage in achieving asymmetry of information vs. an opponent (knowing more about the facts, the jurisdiction, the judge, etc.). And of course, data can be applied creatively to law department management decisions, IP portfolios and more. But can it generate revenue? The question arose: Is Anyone monetizing their data?  The answer is yes (but details were not forthcoming, darn it). 
Empowering the Business Side 
Speaking of ways to monetize investments in Legal, we heard from so many building and deploying applications for self-service that the idea arose to develop an “app store” to share legal request and self-service tools!  
The approaches to allowing business colleagues to do everything from building contracts (“clause by clause”) to getting answers to “one-off” questions varied widely. Many deploy workflow tools, others are repurposing business applications like ServiceNow into legal service portals, at least one is experimenting with robotic process automation (aka “bots”) for “one and done” legal advice needs. 
Is there a downside?  Most agreed that the return on investment in these self-service tools is easy because the hours saved on expensive legal resources are huge. Two restraints were mentioned – both seemingly manageable – getting the Internal Audit function comfortable with pulling lawyers out of the process; and eroding the “trusted advisor” status that is aided by direct lawyer-client interaction. 
Calibrating Legal Service to Risk Appetite
This is another area in which large sophisticated legal departments are not grappling with whether to do it, but rather how best to make the necessary changes. The question was put to the room: Do you have a formal risk appetite philosophy as part of enterprise risk management? One participant’s response underscored the nuances that can be involved. Her company requires risk level assessments upon opening new matters, using rubrics that vary by practice area but generally consider complexity, urgency, connection to strategy and (it did not need to be stated) financial stakes.
Two especially salient points were made. First, “most risk is economic,” so it’s important to assign economic accountability – not as a punishment, but rather to ensure there’s a budget allocation (not in Legal) for the cost of failure. The second point connected to the conversation at the outset – risk appetite is connected to talent. “If the lawyer doesn’t have the T-shape, he/she is more likely to say ‘no’ rather than help you figure out the best business/legal solution.”
Final Thoughts
As time ran out, the conversation turned to what else is needed to help the large legal department thrive in the future. It was like a lightning round – ideas were tossed out like dramatically disaggregating the work force (using the “Uber model”) and tracking outcomes at the lawyer level (in-house and external) to be able to use data to get the right lawyer on each case. As for the leadership needed? “We inspire each other.”
Catherine J. Moynihan is ACC’s AVP of Legal Management Services and a subject matter expert on law department management. She leads the ACC Legal Operations section, the ACC Value Challenge, and the Research function, providing resources, benchmarking and training in key management techniques to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of legal services.  

Goal Alignment is Key to Transforming the Way Your In-House Team Engages Outside Counsel
By Rachel M. Zahorsky, Esq., Novus Law LLC. Follow her on Twitter @NovusLawLLC
Faculty: Jim Delkousis, Founder and CEO, PERSUIT
Nearly every corporate organization is in the midst of a digital transformation – but 81 percent of legal departments are unprepared. That means 4 out of 5 legal departments are unable to support the sweeping changes facing their companies – this, at a time when corporate lawyers are vying to be viewed as drivers of value instead of merely cost centers. 
Jim Delkousis, the founder and CEO of PERSUIT wants to topple those numbers and better align corporate legal departments with the overall business goals of their organizations. “This is the most important issue for legal departments in the coming years,” Delkousis said. 
“Lawyers must understand and commit to the digital journey before they can even converse about metrics, profitability and maturity models,” Delkousis told attendees. “In-house teams need to support their organization’s digital transformation, which they can do in relation the most significant spend within the legal department – outside counsel costs.” 
To tackle the competitive sourcing of law firm spend, Delkousis has a motto, “Treat it like it’s your own money. Lawyers can’t be distant from their organization’s money. Law departments must become more disciplined around competitive sourcing to achieve true market pricing every time they engage outside counsel. Without that, there will never be transparency on pricing and law firm selection.” Full market pricing transparency is the long time vision of PERSUIT, he added. 
However, this would require significant data-driven decision-making about outside counsel selection and spend. “This process can’t be solely relationship-driven anymore,” Delkousis said. “It must be both relationship and data-driven. The biggest headache for in-house departments when engaging outside counsel is not knowing what it’s going to cost. This creates an internal nightmare. If corporate legal departments captured pricing and related data on every engagement (and acted on that data), they would have a more competitive business,” he said. 
When reliable, organized data is aggregated over hundreds if not thousands of engagements and compared with metrics captured by the marketplace, real benchmarking becomes possible. Legal departments would then have certainty and predictability around all types of outside counsel engagements in various jurisdictions. 
“There’s a kind of Nirvana that people in this space talk about, the ‘should-cost model,’” Delkousis said. “If I scope a project, based on both my own and market data, what should it cost? Knowing that answer changes everything.” 

Legal Ops Chair Sam Ranganathan Champions Adopting Ideas from X19 Sessions
By Sam Ranganathan, Chair of ACC Legal Operations, Senior Director of Legal Operations at AbbVie
The recently concluded ACC Xchange 2019 reminds me of the famous product campaign tagline that has stuck with me through the years: “Just slightly ahead of our time.” Each session was led by legal professionals who are just slightly ahead of the rest of us. It wasn’t just about dashboards, it was about dashboards in practice that have changed how Legal Operations leaders working with GCs are driving behavior. It wasn’t just about “Legal Technology Roadmaps,” it was a step-by-step workshop on about how to go about building that roadmap, which helped me contrast our practices. 
The keynote was an interesting lesson on establishing credibility. I watched Cara Alter’s video before, but her dynamic demonstration helped me realize how much we undervalue our non-verbal cues and unearthed blind spots that could affect how I am perceived in my everyday interactions.
As I do every year, I took away a lot of substance from the conference. I learned how to make large changes in our organization stick, how to start small with AI, and how to be always in beta mode for the next generation of solutions. In the spirit of always being in beta mode, we brought legal operations leaders together with their in-house partner AGCs/GCs to create a valuable dynamic in every discussion. Finally, the intimate setting gave me an opportunity to expand my buddy list when I need to “phone a friend.” 
What did you take away? Send me a quick note at, and I'll see you at the ACC Annual Meeting in Phoenix this October! 
Sam Ranganathan is the Chair of ACC Legal Operations and Senior Director, Legal Operations at AbbVie. He spends most of his days devising innovative ways to make legal functions more efficient and reduce data risk to the company. He is currently working to build a client-focused enterprise legal management solution at AbbVie that ensures efficient legal processes. Over the course of his career, Sam has built the legal operations function; implemented novel ways to analyze patent portfolios; built an offshore in-house patent engineering team to improve quality of patent prosecution while reducing overall cost; created an in-house eDiscovery capability and more. He received a MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a MBA from Northwestern University. Sam has two patents issued in his name and is an avid weekend photographer.

How to Get More Involved in the ACC Legal Ops Community
There are many ways to get involved with and contribute to the ACC Legal Operations community and raise your professional profile. We would love to hear your ideas, learn and collaborate together!
  • Join the ACC Legal Operations Maturity Model 2.0 working group. Things are evolving fast and we are excited to take the acclaimed model to the next step. The Interest Groups are already making updates, and we are seeking volunteers to join the team to update Change, IP, Contracts, Financial & Compliance Management.
  • Participate in or start a Regional Group to build relationships through in-person interaction. 
  • Champion the Legal Operations function - the ACC Legal Operations LinkedIn Showcase page offers peers, in-house counsel and others in the legal ecosystem leading practices shared among our members.  Help show off the value of legal ops professionals - follow it to get updates, share and tweet articles (#ACCLegalOps).
  • Let us know if you would like to be featured in or author an article in the ACC Legal Ops Observer, the ACC Docket and the LinkedIn Legal Ops showcase page (a package deal!).  
  • Be an Ambassador – many GCs are curious about the rise of legal ops, and we are communicating best practices at ACC Chapter events. We even have a “Legal Ops 101” deck you can use as a template. 

Email us to get involved - with offers to share your know-how, suggestions or any questions!

Not a Member of ACC Legal Ops? Join Now!

Join now to get access to resources, participate in any of the Interest Groups, and use the online Member Forum for ad hoc benchmarking and referrals. The ACC Legal Ops section is active throughout the year, adding resources, conducting benchmarking studies, and providing webinars by legal operations professionals, for legal ops professionals. 

For more information, visit or contact