About the author

Betsi Roach

CLOC Executive Director

July 2022 SALI Update: SALI API

By Betsi Roach

Page Reading Time: 3 minutes

Beyond the very successful release of SALI LMSS 2.0 — and the building out of even more tags for future LMSS versions — SALI has been busy with improving SALI usability with APIs. 

An Application Programming Interface is how companies exchange data, system to system, without the need for any manual intervention. For example:

  • Company would like data from Vendor
  • Company sends Vendor an API call
  • Vendor responds by sending an API response — with the requested data. 
  • Requested data then automatically appears in Company’s systems and can be displayed, manipulated, or combined with other data sources

Companies large and small use APIs, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, financial institutions, and most major corporations. A growing number of legal tech and legal content providers also offer APIs. That means that it is becoming easier to exchange and combine legal data sources.

But the current legal data APIs are still far from perfect. Here is a visualization of the problem that the SALI API is solving for the legal ecosystem:

Currently, in the legal ecosystem, that data-transfer process is difficult because clients, firms, and vendors all have different tagging schemes for their APIs. That greatly diminishes the APIs’ value, and working around the incompatibilities requires manual work to “map” across systems. For example:

  1. Company must map its taxonomy to the:
    1. Firm’s taxonomy
    2. Vendor’s taxonomy
  2. Company must code an API using the Firm’s or Vendor’s proprietary (non-standard) API protocol. 
  3. Repeat that laborious process for every API integration — with every single Vendor and Firm.

The SALI API solves this: it makes APIs compatible. Companies can build one API — using the standard SALI API  — and those Companies can use that same API for many Firms and Vendors. For example, if Microsoft has an API call saying “Send me all the __ documents,” then they’ll be able to use that same API for:

  • Thomson Reuters
  • Lexis
  • Fastcase / Docket Alarm
  • Other SALI members who implement the SALI API

After the SALI API is implemented, corporate legal departments will be able to transfer all SALI LMSS data to all SALI API-compliant vendors and firms. So, for example, law departments can more-easily send and receive: 

  1. Matter information
    1. E.g., new matters that have been assigned
    2. E.g., prior work history volume 
    3. E.g., results
    4. E.g., staffing
    5. E.g., work product
  2. Document information
    1. E.g., contracts
    2. E.g., motions
    3. E.g., orders
  3. Business of Law information
    1. E.g., outside counsel guidelines
    2. E.g., invoices and narratives
    3. E.g., engagement letters 
  4. Many others

The SALI API working group has been meeting since 2021. This summer, we accelerated our effort with valuable contributions from Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Elevate, Lexis, and Fastcase / Docket Alarm. We are making great progress, and we hope to be able to release SALI API v1 by the end of this year.


The SALI Alliance seeks to improve the legal industry by moving it towards standardizing how we describe legal work. We will simplify and improve the description of legal services by providing a common language represented in an open-source taxonomy. This will provide all players with greater transparency and increase the effectiveness of budgeting and resourcing. Providing a common language for the industry serves as the catalyst for better outcomes and value.

Our work is to produce a Legal Matter Standard Specification (LMSS) and gain adoption in the ecosystem. LMSS is, in essence, an extensive taxonomy, with almost 10,000 nodes. It is actually more than a taxonomy: it not only describes areas of law, services, industries, and player roles, but also captures the relationships among those.


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 anyone can use at no cost, can be found at SALI.org.

In addition, there are several 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.