Contract Heroes

Choosing A Partner For Your CLM Journey - Lucy Bassli

Episode Summary

Lucy is the former Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft, during her time there she completely changed how the legal department supported the contracting process. Lucy left Microsoft 4 years ago to start her own consultancy, InnoLaw, where she now works with her team to help corporate law firms better understand how to manage their contracts. In this week's episode we discuss: - How the in-house legal and tech industry has grown over the past few years - Why AI isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when it comes to CLM tools - What to look for from a technical standpoint when evaluating tools for your organization - Things to look for beyond product fit when choosing a vendor or consulting partner

Episode Notes

This week’s installment of Contract Heroes brings you invaluable insight from renowned legal operations consultant and founder of InnoLaw, Lucy Bassli. Lucy got her start as a commercial contracts lawyer, eventually moving from a big law firm to working in-house at Microsoft for about 13 years. It was through her work at Microsoft that she discovered her passion for the “how” aspect of her job rather than the “what.” She defines the “how” of working with contracts as finding ways to do them faster, better, and more efficiently. Lucy left Microsoft 4 years ago to start her own consultancy, InnoLaw, where she now works with her team to help corporate law firms better understand how to manage their contracts. Read on to discover just a fraction of the wisdom she shared with us throughout our conversation.

AI Expectations

With the explosion of contract lifecycle management (CLM) software, many legal-tech conversations have become centered around one common buzzword: AI. However, despite how much the word is thrown around and advertised on the websites of software providers, consumers may still not be aware of what AI currently can and cannot do. We asked Lucy to give us some insight into her experience implementing systems that feature AI and what customers who utilize such software should expect from their program.

Lucy began her explanation by stating that contract management boils down to an intricate series of processes and interactions. AI can certainly play a part in these processes and interactions, but you shouldn’t aim to have it replace them entirely. Some CLM providers haven’t been entirely clear about the value of using AI, and this disconnect leads to a lack of understanding about how to successfully implement an AI-driven program. 

What many first-time AI or CLM solution users may not realize is that AI requires a great deal of human interaction in order to be successful at its tasks. Just as you would train a new employee, you need to teach the AI by feeding it plenty of samples, sometimes hundreds or even thousands of documents. The more samples it has, the better it understands and is able to provide the service that the software company advertised. Essentially, it’s important to be merciful on your AI and not expect too much from it, especially early on in the implementation process.

CLM Vendor Standards

Being the head of her own consultancy, Lucy was able to shed some light on an aspect of CLM solutions that we haven’t had the chance to discuss as often on our show: the screening process for selecting which software to recommend to clients. Since her consultancy is agnostic, they do not have any partnerships with specific companies, meaning that they always do their best to recommend a solution that will be the best fit for the customer without any sort of bias. 

The first piece of the puzzle when evaluating CLM solutions is, of course, the features and functions, aka the actual technology. Most will be stronger in some phases or areas than others, so it’s important to know which phases are the strong suit for each software in order to choose one that best fits the needs of the customer. The next step is then to evaluate the people behind the product. Getting to know the sales team, as well as the company’s implementation policies, can be a good indicator as to whether or not they’ll be thorough and communicative throughout the process. Typically, she will ask them to prepare a demo for the client to use in order to gain a better feel for how it will work with their practices.

For Lucy, evaluating the people behind the product even reaches all the way to the CEO. One way to wade through a sea of potential vendors is to check the backgrounds of the CEOs. Those who have experience in the legal world, have shown some level of passion for the work they’re doing, and put energy or excitement into the advancement of legal-tech are going to be the standout candidates. These are the providers who are more likely to be in it for the long haul instead of merely capitalizing on a current business boom. Providers who showcase stories of consistent customers year after year will generally have higher implementation success rates.

For more exclusive chats with expert guests in the contract lifecycle management sphere along with valuable legal-tech advice, check out past installments of 

Contract Heroes

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