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Nicole Cote

CLOC Head of Marketing & Events

CLOC Announces Endorsement of the SALI Alliance

By Nicole Cote

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In our quest to facilitate collaboration among legal operations professionals and other industry players, CLOC is pleased to announce our endorsement of the Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) Alliance. A common language to describe legal work benefits all parties in the ecosystem by enabling faster, better data analysis to increased transparency and simplified data integration. 

Each month, we will share updates and information from the SALI Alliance including new releases of the standard, new adopters, case studies, calls for input, and more. To help you get acquainted with the SALI Alliance, we asked them to provide an overview of the organization, mission, and specific benefits of adopting the standard. 

WHY HAVE A STANDARD? 

Data is critical to address the many challenges associated with efficient legal service delivery. Today, analytics are available to support managing costs and improving matter predictability. But producing analytics depends on standardized data. And data is rife with disparate, dispersed data, inconsistent standards, information gaps, varying definitions, and other problems. For anyone charged with harmonizing data within or across organizations, it is an arduous and painful process. 

WHO IS BEHIND SALI, AND WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO DATE? 

The SALI Alliance is a nonprofit legal standards body aspiring to solve the data standardization problem. It was formed in 2017 by an inclusive cross-industry group representing legal operations, in-house counsel, law firm professionals, technology companies, and other service providers.  

In February 2020, SALI published the first Legal Matter Specification Standard (LMSS), which includes more than 3,000 standardized fields, codes, and tags that identify items such as areas of law (e.g., intellectual property), legal services (e.g., litigation), client industries (e.g., computing & high tech), and actor roles (e.g., defendant).  

We continue to work with many companies and organizations throughout the legal ecosystem, finding aligned interests even among competitors. Our projects bring industry participants together, from law firms and clients to technology companies like Intapp and NetDocs. For example, we recently gathered several ELM providers to collaborate on common data categories to improve the legal billing workstream. 

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WHO IS USING THE LMSS, AND HOW? 

Stakeholders of SALI include corporations, legal service providers, and vendors. Those stakeholders can use as much — or as little — of LMSS as they desire. Some have comprehensively adopted the standard; others have only adopted specific fields to jump-start their standardization efforts. The flexibility of SALI makes it easy to integrate within an organization’s data standards and policies. 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ADOPTING THE STANDARD? 

By implementing the LMSS, a wide array of queries become available about substantive law, matter attributes, matter participants, services, and industries, among other insights. Following are just a few examples:   

  • The number and type of matters being handled in-house compared to those being outsourced for workload monitoring;  
  • The cost of a particular area of law and service by legal service provider for increased predictability in pricing;  
  • The cost of various types of litigation by venue and type of case for more accurate budgeting and resolution strategy. 

In short, LMSS provides transparency, enabling meaningful improvements to service delivery and providing stronger ties between client and service provider because all are, literally, speaking the same language.  

In terms of implementation, LMSS adopters gain the following benefits, whether partly or wholly implementing the standard: 

  • Bronze: Single-System Integration. Adopters can run analytics on a single application or system (e.g., billing, document management system, knowledge management). 
  • Silver: Cross-System Integration. Adopters can run analytics across systems — since fields are tagged uniformly – and derive deeper insights. 
  • Gold: Cross-Industry Integration. Adopters can better communicate with other LMSS adopters (e.g., legal service providers, businesses, solution providers). A SALI working group is currently drafting a standardized API for increased interoperability and seamless integration across organizations. 

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE? 

We welcome your input and your involvement! The most complete, practical standard can only be realized by continued contributions and adoption from organizations throughout the legal industry, particularly legal operations professionals and in-house counsel teams.  

A link to the standard, which is available for use by anyone, at no cost, can be found at Sali.org.  

In addition, there are a number of active and pending conversations to join, including:  

  • International working groups 
  • Area of law working groups 
  • Open forums for questions, feedback, and discussion among current and potential adopters 

For more information on the standard, adoption, or getting involved, please contact: Kelly Harbour at kharbour@goulstonstorrs.com or Mark Medice at mmedice@lawvision.com.