What a CLOC...
CLOC Global Institute 2023 was another big event, packed with legal operators, legal tech, meetings, and parties. Here, for your reading pleasure, are my personal reflections.
Well, that’s CLOC Global Institute in Las Vegas done and dusted. CGI 2023 was another big event, packed with legal operators, legal tech, meetings, and parties. Here, for your reading pleasure, are my personal reflections on this year’s conference.
- AI buzz pretending not to be.
As expected, ChatGPT and AI remain popular topics among legal crowds, with everyone wondering out loud just how big of a deal it will be. Many vendors have rushed to market with GPT-powered stuff, but simultaneously admit they don’t really know exactly how it will play out. Almost everyone agrees that it’s big and potentially disruptive, but the whole GPT/LLM phenomenon is still very buzzy, with people adding to the buzz one minute and trying to distance themselves from buzz the next. Mary (there is only one Mary at CLOC) made the bold claim that generative AI would be a category killer, using document management and KM as examples of potential AI roadkill. This struck me as a little over the top; a DMS may get a whole lot better with a dose of AI but it’s still a DMS (to be fair to Mary, she was spitballing). Many others were chattering about the risks of AI, including leakage of data and IP, hallucinations, and so on. I noticed that many people tend to munge generative AI and LLMs together, as if they were interchangeable. My take is that LLMs more broadly will disrupt legal more than GenAI specifically. For now, people focus on GenAI because that’s what ChatGPT happens to be. More on this in a future blog post.
- Party like its 2022.
In many ways, CLOC 2023 was just like CLOC 2022, without the super-spreading side effects. Many of the same friendly faces. Many of the same vendors, hosting (excellent) parties at the same places. Agiloft was back on the Prime patio. Malbek was back with more Malbec. IronClad was back at the Barbershop. But inside the Bellagio, it was a return to 2019, with vendors, food and drink reunited in one big, happy exhibit hall. A much better format than 2022, when demos and deviled eggs were mostly segregated. Next year, it turns out, CLOC is moving on to the Aria, and saying “bye-bye” to the Bellagio. But don’t worry, the fountains are only a short walk from Aria.
- CLMs coming down from their sugar high?
Last year saw a tsunami of capital flowing into the coffers of many CLMs. A year later that sugar high is fading, and reality is starting to sink in. Raising money is not the same as doing a successful CLM rollout. Demos are not reality. More people are talking openly about mistakes and failures and how to avoid them. You bump into legal ops veterans who freely admit they’re on their second or third attempt at CLM deployment. The space is crowded and many buyers struggle to understand how each vendor is different. What’s interesting is how the various players are reacting. Some CLMs are venturing beyond contracts. LinkSquares, for example, launched a new feature (Prioritize) aimed at non-contract workflows within the legal dept. ContractPod is unleashing Leah, their GPT4-powered assistant, as a standalone product for “legal matters beyond contracts”. Others, like Agiloft, are partnering with ELM players like Mitratech, but with the same basic idea of becoming a platform for legal. What’s still missing, I think, is industry focus. It’s going to be a while before the dust settles in this space.
- Alternative, not traditional.
This is an observation about legal service providers, not music tastes. A few people have made this observation, and it makes sense: there were plenty of ALSPs at CLOC and not so many traditional law firms. ALSPs are trying to disrupt and transform the way legal services are delivered and are more likely to embrace a mixture of people, process and technology to do so. This aligns well with what legal ops is trying to achieve, so it makes sense that ALSPs show up at CLOC in a much bigger way than law firms.
- Catylex takes a giant leap (dressed as an astronaut).
For Catylex, CLOC 2023 was an exciting event. We officially introduced our “Essentials” product, which makes getting data from contracts dramatically easier than ever before. For anyone frustrated by under-performing contract AI products, this was welcome news. And since it’s such a giant leap forward for contract analytics, we had fun with a moon landing theme, giving me an excuse to wander the halls dressed as an astronaut.
To be the first to experience Catylex Essentials when we launch next month, join the waitlist 🚀. And, in the meantime if you’d like a copy of the CLM maturity model we presented at CLOC, please contact us or ping me on LinkedIn.
See you at the Aria next year!