About 2,500 legal professionals will converge in Las Vegas next week for the CLOC Global Institute to focus on legal innovation and transformation. Among the conference highlights will be the May 17 session, Shift From Proactive to Predictive: Get More Sophisticated With Spend Management.

Kelsey Nicol, director, Go-To-Market Strategy & Planning, Corporates, Thomson Reuters, will moderate the panel. She’ll be joined by panelists Fred Paulmann, founder of The Counsel Management Group, and Alayne Russom, director of the General Counsel’s Office Operations, Thrivent.

Legal Current caught up with Nicol for a preview of the session and what she’s looking forward to at the show.

Legal Current: What are some of the top challenges facing legal departments?
Nicol: According to the Thomson Reuters 2023 State of the Corporate Law Department report, far more legal departments anticipate an increase in their legal spend in the coming year. Legal operations professionals are looking to leverage technology to allow their legal departments to become more efficient and predictive with their outside counsel engagements.

LC: How are Thomson Reuters solutions helping legal departments do more with less?
Nicol: In addition to our world-class legal research offerings, the Thomson Reuters spend and matter management software, Legal Tracker, provides automated invoice review and billing guideline enforcement so legal departments can streamline the invoice review process. As the market leader, Legal Tracker also provides legal departments with benchmarking and predictive spend analytics from more than 1,600 other corporate legal departments to make data-driven decisions when negotiating with outside counsel. We are particularly excited to be launching a Matter Pricing and RFP feature to Legal Tracker Advanced, providing an end-to-end competitive bidding process for legal departments to ensure that they have selected the right firm at the right price all within the same tool.

LC: Why is a predictive approach to spend management so important for legal departments?
Nicol: Predictive spend management can be a daunting task, but I think about it as “nirvana” – the goal that all legal departments should be striving to yet is always a moving target. By having predictive spend management as a goal, legal departments can develop action plans to make real progress – for example, starting with the requirement of outside counsel to submit rate sheets, budgets, and accruals. Predictive spending will then evolve to truly anticipating legal costs by deploying measures such as legal RFPs and alternative fee arrangements to meet their organization’s budgetary expectations. Predictive spending really enables the legal team to set an example for the rest of the organization as being a responsible steward of the organization’s expenses.

LC: What do you hope CLOC attendees will take away from your session?
Nicol: I hope that attendees will be able to identify tangible actions they can deploy within their legal department, regardless of where they are on the spend sophistication journey. My goal is for attendees to take away at least one cost-saving measure or workflow improvement they can share with their leadership – even something as simple as setting up automated billing guideline enforcements in their legal spend software will garner tangible savings.

LC: What are you most looking forward to at CLOC?
Nicol: Having been part of the CLOC community for more than 10 years, what I’ve always found most beneficial about CLOC events is connecting with other legal operations professionals. Hearing about priorities and projects, problem solving with others and seeing how legal departments are embracing innovation really gets me excited!

Nicol’s 30-minute session takes place May 17 at 11:40 a.m. Pacific time. Register for CLOC to join the session and learn more about predictive spend management.

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