SimpleLegal’s Legal Tech Glossary

SimpleLegal is here to help you with your legal tech questions. As the leading enterprise software platform to manage all your legal operations, matters, spend, vendors, knowledge, and more, we’re here to help you be successful. Our comprehensive glossary of legal definitions gives you immediate access to legal tech terms—on your schedule.

Feel free to bookmark our tech definition guide and use it as your go-to source for the information you need to fine tune your strategic business goals. To find legal definitions, simply click on the letter that corresponds with the first letter of the term you need help understanding.

For additional insights, be sure to visit our resources section or our blog where you’ll find legal tech insights and information on the most important legal topics.

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A

Accounts Payable (AP) Systems allow your AP department to track invoices in order to make the appropriate payments to your suppliers, vendors, and creditors. Although AP and legal are separate entities, it’s important for the two departments to be closely aligned to ensure accurate bookings. By integrating a legal e-Billing and matter management system with an AP solution, organizations can automate the invoice handoff to increase efficiency.

Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) are not law firms, they are service providers that provide specialized work , often at a lower cost with more expertise and flexibility. ALSPs aren’t exclusively for in-house departments. Law firms are leveraging their services to support work that would require too many in-house resources. To ensure your legal team is getting the most out of its vendors, get a vendor management system to track performance of both Law firms and ALSPs.

Application Programming Interface (API) enables software to access data, server software, or other applications to create a connection between disparate applications and eliminate outdated, manual transfer of information. For in-house legal teams, using an API to connect legal tech such as e-Billing with finance’s AP/ERP system can eliminate manual transfer of information between legal and finance, ensuring both teams have visibility into legal’s financial data. However, not all API’s are the same and may not be the right choice for your legal department.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) are computer science methods that allow computers to complete tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, problem solving and learning. AI is being incorporated into legal technology that helps automate certain manual processes and administrative tasks which currently burden attorneys. While there is great promise for AI, legal departments have been slow to adopt this type of technology due to concerns over accuracy, reliability, and implementation cost.

Automation is the process of having tasks originally manually performed by humans completed by computers in order to increase efficiency. Automation becomes a key ally in improving efficiency and lowering cost for legal departments. Standard processes like contract review, approvals, NDAs, and matter management can all be automated and streamlined with a legal operations management platform. 

B

Backups copy your data to remote servers and store the data in case anything happens to your main server. If something were to happen to your main server, you’d be able to easily get your data back from a backup server. Legal teams handle a lot of sensitive business data and therefore should constantly be backing up their servers. Automatic backup systems are recommended to make sure all your data is backed up.

Benchmarking is the process of reviewing historical data and industry best practices to set expectations and accountability on the performance of projects, vendors, and departments. In legal departments, benchmarking law firm performance and cost will allow you to identify law firms that are underperforming or too expensive. In order to benchmark successfully, you’ll need a management platform that has built-in reporting capabilities for accurate data tracking.

Big Data refers to a database that holds all your raw data without filters and segments. As the prioritization of data continues to grow in legal departments, it is critical for legal teams to work with their vendors to ensure their data is protected.

Blockchain Technology is a system of blocks (information captured) aligned in a chain (linear order) in order to capture edits, transactions and distribution. The goal of this technology is to allow information to be captured and shared, without the fear of false/insecure information. For example, if a transaction is made by someone, the block would capture all the transaction data and assign a unique identifier to that transaction. If a hacker were to go into that transaction and try to increase the charge, a new block along the chain would be created. Therefore, you will always be able to identify your original transaction. Although blockchain technology is fairly new to the legal sector, it is expected to play an important role in revolutionizing contracts, corporate filings, document notarizations and even the criminal justice system.

Business Process Management (BPM) refers to the operational tasks that automate, analyze, track, and improve current business processes in order to support the organization’s goals. For legal departments, legal operations has emerged to help manage and streamline business processes, ensuring the department is working efficiently. These efforts can be further optimized with legal operations software with matter management and e-Billing functionality.

C

Change Management is the planning and execution behind moving a person, team, or entire organization from their current state to a new or future state. Planning for and executing a change management program can help increase product or process adoption, boost legal department productivity, and minimize wasted resources and delays.

Cloud-Based Software are applications that are stored on an online server as opposed to your local server. An advantage to these platforms is that software vendors are now responsible for maintaining the platforms versus having your internal IT department maintain the platforms. In addition, you can access these platforms from anywhere as long as you have internet access. Many of the modern legal operations management platforms are cloud-based applications that allow legal teams to store their matter data and access it wherever needed.

Cloud Storage refers to offsite data centers that hold your data. These data centers are always on and connected so you’re able to access your documents and data anywhere as long as you have internet access.Many legal departments use document management platforms for cloud storage in order to store their contracts, case documents, emails, and even videos.

Compliance Management Software allows legal compliance departments to monitor and track an organization’s activities and processes to ensure they are complying with all laws and regulations. Compliance management also consists of correcting any violations in order to stay compliant and avoid lawsuits against the organization.

Configuration in technology refers to adjusting general platform features to align with your business requirements without changing the platform completely. In legal technology, configuring a matter management platform might include changing field labels to match internal nomenclature or setting up roles and permissions based on your internal organization structure. Check out our blog on customizable vs configurable legal technology to learn more.

Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) is the managing of contracts an organization has with a third party in order to reduce financial and legal risk. This could include contracts with vendors, customers, partners, or even employees. In order to facilitate and automate the management of contracts, legal teams are turning to CLM software.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software allows your department to manage customer relationships and interactions by tracking all forms of engagement and customer/potential customer information. The goal is to help improve business and customer relationships by streamlining engagement processes. There are a number of law firm specific CRMs that focus on client acquisition, contract management, and outreach. It is important to understand that a CRM is not a Case Management Software, but many CRMs integrate with popular case management platforms available.

D

Data Analytics or Data Analysis, is the process of transforming and cleaning data to discover insights about your organization/department in order to make key decisions and increase efficacy. While in legal departments, data analytics can cover a range of metrics, many legal departments are leveraging analytical data to improve their spend management to avoid becoming a cost center.

Document Management Systems (DMS) allows you to store, manage, and track your documents electronically to ensure all documents are in a central location while reducing paper waste. Many of these platforms, like Box and iManage allow versioning control, restricted access and sharing capabilities. In legal departments, DMS systems help improve the tracking and management of matters via integration or by leveraging a matter management system with built-in document management.

E

eDiscovery Software streamlines your eDiscovery process by holding all your data in one place for easy researching, collaboration, and sharing. Before eDiscovery software, the collection and sharing of data for cases involved physically shipping documents in boxes. With eDiscovery software, legal teams can easily share information with law firms, clients, and vendors all from one platform.

Encryption is a method of data protection that turns your documents into gibberish that can only be understood with specific software/code. If a hacker were to steal your encrypted files, they would have a hard time reading the files if they didn’t have the codes to de-encrypt. In today’s digital era, more and more legal departments and law firms are using software to encrypt their data to reduce the risk of data loss and unauthorized access.

Electronic Service (eService) is the electronic transfer of legal documents between a client/organization and a court/legal service provider. Transferring documents electronically ensures the correct document and version reaches its destination versus mailing and emailing documents.

eSignature Software allows users to sign contracts and documents online without the need for paper copy exchanges. These signatures are legally binding like a paper signature. eSignature Software is gaining popularity amongst legal departments for contract processing with vendors, clients, and outside counsel.

F


Financial Management is a key responsibility for legal operations teams as they need to align with their finance department and operate efficiently. This is where spend management platforms come in. Spend management platforms allow legal departments to track legal spend and integrate with finance software for payments and invoice approval.

G

H

I

Information Governance is the management of an organization’s information with processes, controls, and tracking in order to make information available to all employees within the organization and mitigate compliance risk. 

Integrations, specifically application integrations, allow you to connect your tech stack with other platforms through native, custom, and API integrations. For legal departments, having a legal operations platform that can easily integrate with 3rd party applications in different departments helps improve data exchange reliability and accuracy, automate workflows, and increase efficiency.  

Intellectual Property (IP) software is used by attorneys and law firms to manage IP filings and litigations. With a legal operations platform integration with your IP management solution, you automate operational aspects of IP prosecutions and allow your attorney’s to focus on the prosecution.

J

K


Knowledge Management refers to the way teams create, share, and find information within their organization. This has grown in popularity within Legal departments because it reduces duplicate work, streamlines internal processes, and increases collaboration among team members. Knowledge management platforms allow users to easily share information amongst peers, find all the information related to specific cases, and understand vendor relationships all within one platform.

L

LEDES File Format, created by the LEDES Oversight Committee (LOC) in 1995, is a standard format for billing and information exchange between corporations and law firms. LEDES format is simple and allows law firms to easily create invoices while allowing your legal department to easily accept invoices in a uniform format. Ensuring your e-Billing solution supports LEDES will allow smoother transactions between your vendors and your team.

Legal e-Billing refers to software that replaces the traditional billing model where legal teams receive bills from their law firms via email or snail mail. With e-Billing, legal teams no longer have to review stacks of paper bills and manually enter line items into spreadsheets to generate reports. Legal operations teams utilize e-Billing systems to manage invoice intake, enforce billing guidelines, and automatically route invoices for approval.

Legal Operations Platform, also known as Legal Operations Management (LOM) Platform, help legal departments manage all their operational tasks in one location. These platforms tend to capture matter data such as progress and outcomes, spend and e-Billing, vendor performance, and much more. In addition, they are reporting tools that allow legal ops departments to uncover insights and optimize processes.

Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) is the process of transferring the work from in-house legal departments to outside legal agencies in an effort to increase their in-house efficiency on high priority tasks. Some teams also practice legal process offshoring where they transfer legal work to international organizations to help reduce cost. In order to manage LPO, legal teams turn to vendor management platforms to track all vendor activity such as billing, projects, and timekeeping. 

Legal Project Management, a form of matter management, leverages the practices of project management to manage legal matters. Legal technologies, such as matter management platforms, provide legal project managers full visibility into matter spend, timing, and vendor performance. 

Legal Service is the legal work a lawyer completes for their client. This can be between a lawyer and an individual or a law firm and an in-house legal department. In the past, tracking the progress of legal services and billing was very manual, but with legal technology such as vendor management and e-Billing, this process is now automated. 

Legal Technology allows legal departments to streamline processes in order to improve efficiency. Types of legal technology can be leveraged by in-house counsel and law firms, and can include billing technology, matter management platforms, contract management platforms, e-Signature, and timekeeping software, to name a few. Some might argue that there’s no such thing as legal tech, but instead, tech that’s been adopted to the legal field.

M

Machine Learning is pattern recognition software that allows computers to find solutions to new problems from historical data. The more historical data, the more accurate a machine learning model becomes. Similar to artificial Intelligence technology, machine learning technology has not been widely accepted by lawyers due to accuracy concerns.

Matter Management refers to the process of creating, sharing, tracking, and managing legal projects. Specifically in regards to legal technology, matter management platforms help improve legal department efficiency by streamlining workflows and tracking all matter activity in one location.

N

O

Outside Counsel Rationalization is the process of evaluating outside counsel market alternatives and in-house standards in order to improve quality and reduce cost. With vendor management platforms, implementing OCR processes is easy and tracking vendor performance is all on one screen.

Online Case Management is a system that allows attorneys to manage all documents and progress of a case they are working on. These tools come in handy when a case is large in scale, document-heavy, and involves multiple teams of attorneys. Online case management systems focus on the progress of specific cases while matter management platforms take a holistic view of all legal activity, not just case progress. 

Optical Character Recognition is technology that allows you to convert pdf, images, and scanned files into text files for editing. For example, you scan a contract but you want to edit the text; instead of typing it all out, an optical character recognition system will analyze the scan and convert the content into text.

P

Practice Management Software helps lawyers manage their cases and legal operations in order to allow lawyers to focus more on practicing law and less on operational tasks. Legal practice management software is primarily for law firms and vendors and includes case management, matter management, client communications, billing, and more. Practice management software helps improve legal matter tracking by keeping all data in one location. 

Procurement is the buying of goods and services, usually at a large scale for organizations. Legal procurement is the buying and vetting of outside counsel to ensure they are getting the best value from their legal spend. To help facilitate this, vendor management platforms allow legal departments to compare the performance and cost of their vendors to make data-driven purchasing decisions. In a lot of larger organizations, legal procurement also focuses on identifying and vetting technology for the legal department.

Q

R

Records Management is the management of information within an organization including storing, securing, and tracking information. Many legal operations management platforms have record management features like matter information storage and invoice storage to allow users to access data whenever needed. 

Request for Proposal (RFP) is a business document that provides information on a project to support a request for proposals from multiple vendors to identify the best option.Similarly, a legal RFP is when an in-house counsel presents vendors with a request for new legal tech or presents law firms with a legal project and requests them to provide pricing proposals for the legal work required.

S

Smart Contracts are computer generated contracts that track the contract rules and execute specific actions in accordance with the contract terms without the need of manual monitoring. For instance, making payments as contracted work is completed or alerting when a contract is violated. Smart contracts leverage blockchain technology to ensure security and track changes, as a result, they are most commonly used in cryptocurrency transactions. Smart contracts aren’t widely adopted by legal departments, but as technology continues to modernize legal teams, we won’t be surprised if we start seeing smart contracts around more. 

Software as a Service (SaaS), is exactly as the name describes, software delivered by a vendor as a service for a specific amount of time depending on the contract between the vendor and the customer. This software is hosted online by the vendor and doesn’t require users to install on their local server. Majority of the modern legal operations platforms available are SaaS and offer features such as matter management, e-Billing, vendor management, and more. 

Spend Management Software allows users to track their spend and management of invoices, budgets, e-Billing, accruals, and more from one system. This provides legal departments with complete visibility into their department’s spend to help departments make data-driven decisions that helps lower cost and increase productivity.

T


Third Party Applications are applications developed by vendors to add on to platforms from other vendors. In legal tech, integrations between your legal operations management platform and third party applications such as AP software and IP software can help increase collaboration between legal departments and the rest of the organization.

U

V

Vendor Management is the process of managing vendors and evaluating vendor performance to ensure your organization is getting the most from your vendors. e-Billing and spend management platforms with vendor management capabilities allow legal teams to analyze performance data such as projects completed, timing, and cost in order to improve vendor relations.

Vendor Portals allow vendors and law firms to submit invoices, propose matter budgets, manage timekeepers, and track assigned matters. These portals connect with the department’s matter management software, allowing legal departments to track vendor activity.

Virtual Law Firms operate online without a physical office location by having their lawyers work from anywhere they have internet access. As virtual law firms become more popular, it is important for a legal department to have a vendor management platform that tracks all vendor activity and documents electronically as you can’t fax to a virtual location.

W

Workflow Automation is the process of converting human manual processes to automated processes through technology. Workflow automation helps increase a legal department’s efficiency by allowing lawyers to focus more on legal work versus operational tasks. An example of workflow automation is the transferring of invoices from law firms to in-house teams to AP departments. With eBilling platforms, the invoice transferring no longer has to be handled by an individual, instead, the invoice arrives to the appropriate approver and sent to AP after approval. 

Workflow Management allows workflow automation to be possible and is the management of an organization’s processes and technologies. Workflow management typically involves an organization’s IT department to set up the technology and workflows between different platforms and teams, such as legal departments and AP. Ultimately the goal of workflow management is to improve and organizations efficiency with structured processes.

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