The legal industry group Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) appointed Mike Haven as its president earlier this year. Haven, who is also head of legal operations and associate general counsel for Intel, has landed the role during a time the organisation is broadening its remit and seeking to transform the business of law.
ALB: What are some of the ways you’ve seen the legal industry evolve over your professional career?
HAVEN: There have been many dramatic changes in the legal industry over the past two decades. When I was a newly minted law firm associate, we worked with paper files. We would go to a file room, pull out binders or folders containing hard copies of correspondence, pleadings, and discovery for the matters we were working on, and return them to the file room when we were done. For document review projects, we would print out all the documents provided by the opposing party and review them one by one looking for a smoking gun. Correspondence with opposing counsel was via formal letter, and if we wanted to get it to them quickly, we would use a facsimile. Using a PowerPoint deck in trial was considered quite sophisticated. Obviously, those days are long gone. The practice of law has transformed as game-changing technologies have been introduced and adopted. Files are now digitised, discovery tasks are streamlined by machine learning and review software, facsimiles seem to be extinct, most correspondence is by email, rapid responses are the norm, and trial lawyers are expected to leverage fancy software in presentations to juries. It’s a different world. That said, in many ways the industry has been slow to change. For example, we have not yet shaken off the billable hour. There still is much more change on the horizon.
ALB: Can you tell us a little about your priorities as president of CLOC?
HAVEN: Our vision has not changed. CLOC remains dedicated to transforming the business of law. We will continue to support our members, the organisations they serve, and the industry in leveraging legal operations to apply business principles to running corporate legal departments. But it’s not just about advancing the ball for corporate teams. We have welcomed and embraced the entire legal ecosystem – including law firms, ALSPs, technology providers, and educational institutions – so that we all can work together to transform the industry. We have learned that it will require focus from every sector to facilitate meaningful, lasting change, and we are excited that professionals and organisations across the industry are on board. In addition to broadening our membership, we have expanded our focus to include “matters of the heart.” As CLOC was ramping up, we were heavily focused on “matters of the mind” – things like legal finance, vendor management, process improvement, technology implementation and business intelligence. These matters obviously are still very important, and we will continue to help our members get and stay on the cutting edge. But we need to focus on other equally important things like empathy, diversity, inclusion, and access to justice. These matters are not just nice-to-haves; they are fundamental to the success of our members and advancement of the legal industry.
ALB: For the legal industry, what should some of the big takeaways from the pandemic be?
HAVEN: A few things come to mind. First, the pandemic taught us that we can solve problems much more effectively and efficiently when we all work together. The communities that came together for each other, staying home, wearing masks, getting tested, and getting vaccinated are now living their pre-pandemic lives. It was a wonderful display of teamwork to get through a seemingly impossible challenge. That same principle applies to the legal industry. Working together, we can transmogrify. If we remain siloed, things will change much slower, if at all.
Second, we do not need to commute to an office every day to work effectively. We can give people balance in their lives. However, that does not mean proximity is no longer important. The pandemic taught us that we need in-person interaction. We should strike a balance between flexibility and proximity in our work lives, and the pandemic has proven that can work. Third, on a more personal level, I think we all have a much deeper appreciation for many of the things we once took for granted. Family gatherings, happy hours at the local pub, watching a youth sports game: These are things that make us happy. Lawyers need to make more time for these things, because mental health is a serious issue in our profession.
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