Episode 44

How an Opera Singer Became a Legal Ops Pro: Cory Clines, Legal Operations Consultant

Episode summary

Introduction: 0:00

  • Introducing Cory Clines, Legal Operations Manager at Campari Group with fifteen years of legal ops experience.
  • Starting your career as a conservatory-trained opera singer and moving into legal ops and consulting at Lloyd’s and Advance Publications, owner of Condé Nast.
  • Discussing go-to cocktails and Campari’s expansive list of alcohol brands.

Training as an opera singer: 4:01

  • Being drafted into opera because of his low voice.
  • Studying many languages at once to understand operas.
  • Sharing your favorite operas and performances.

Considering skill transfer from opera to legal operations: 12:12

  • Emphasizing collaboration and discipline.
  • Relying on finance, IT, and global legal teams to accomplish goals.
  • Embracing consequences for team members who won’t adopt new processes.
  • Thinking legal ops like putting on a show.

Moving forward by earning the trust of your GC: 14:46

  • Being hired as temp, then moving up to executive assistant, then paralegal.
  • Adopting a unified vision between legal ops and general counsel.
  • Using data to make cases to your general counsel about major decisions.

Deciding to leverage technology in legal ops: 16:34

  • Rejecting complicated, time-consuming, and expensive manual processes.
  • Finding an inflection point that requires you to make a technology-forward process change.

Running RFPs from an in-house perspective: 18:39

  • Defining pain points, setting objectives, and getting the right people involved. 
  • Inviting as many lawyers as possible to new technology demonstrations with vendors.

Identifying new opportunities to advance your legal ops career: 22:05

  • Leaving Lloyd’s after a vendor asked him to help implement the software at a different client.
  • Moving into consulting in order to work around opera performance schedule.
  • Coming back as a legal operations manager when the time is right.
  • Emphasizing the need to be open to opportunity.

Advice to legal ops professionals who feel pigeonholed in one aspect of the role: 24:27

  • Finding the willingness to change your career. 
  • Building relationships with vendors and staying in touch with former colleagues.
  • Relying on networks like CLOC and Legal Operators.
  • Understand how to change rules, implement AI, and make an positive effort.

Considering how curiosity affects your work: 27:23

  • Recognizing how much data can be pulled from a single document.
  • Looking outside of your role to consider new concepts.
  • Being unafraid to hear a vendor’s pitch.

Questioning the need for tech expertise as a legal operations manager: 28:47

  • Understanding technology as a personal interest.
  • Being clear that you don’t need to understand tech on a deep level as long as you can guide the team that does.
  • Viewing project management skills as the ultimate requirement for legal ops.

Looking back at tech implementations that went wrong: 31:20

  • Not wedding yourself to a single piece of technology. 
  • Not relying on implementation consultants.
  • Taking ownership of implementation internally and working closely with vendors.
  • Working with proactive vendors that will work with you on solutions.

Building a legal ops team from scratch at Campari: 38:14

  • Starting all jobs from zero in terms of tech but not process.
  • Dealing with fractured processes across countries and regions.
  • Making decisions from a business perspective to recoup expenses as efficiently as possible.

Using tech to drive legal ops process: 41:15

  • Supporting Campari’s aggressive growth agenda by enforcing uniform process across regions. 
  • Focusing on a business-forward end goal.
  • Recognizing that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions across organizations.

Book recommendations: 46:01

The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

What you wish you had known when you started in legal ops: 47:58

  • Focusing on friendships with finance and IT teams.
  • Not being afraid to be the bad guy and say no.
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Tyler Finn
Head of Community & Growth, SpotDraft
Cory Clines
Legal Operations Consultant

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