23 August 2019

Talking the legal talk

Microsoft signing up as first user is big boost for 'standard' legal language released last month by SALI.

By Dr David Cowan


An initiative to develop a standard language to describe legal matters across the industry has named Microsoft Corp as its first official user. The Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry Alliance (SALI) has announced Microsoft have commenced trial implementation of the new language.

Legal taxonomy

SALI was formally established in May 2017 and has said that a standard description of legal work, similar to the universal product code, will help clients better track the work being done by their in-house lawyers and outside law firms. Ultimately, it could lead to better comparisons of law firms’ pricing and performance. Microsoft is implementing a portion of SALI’s standard taxonomy for legal matters, and has clarified that implementation is still in its early stages and limited to internal use within the law department. SALI released the legal matter specification standard (LMSS) 1.0, revision 2, last month. The LMSS is seen as an important milestone in providing interoperability of legal matter data that can aid in improving the efficiency of the legal industry while creating a community for the exchange of ideas around standards. Revision 2 sets the stage for reference implementations and initial use of the standard. The LMSS provides a common language for describing legal matters in a party-neutral, extensible manner. This release includes the publication of an overall structure as well as eight code sets for Area of Law, Courts (US only), Governmental Bodies (US only), Industries, Legal Entities, Locations, Player Roles, and Processes. The LMSS is an open, free standard.

Shaping standards

“The release of Revision 2 is a major milestone,” said Adam Stock, co-chair of the LMSS committee. “This new standard has the potential to bring forward many of legal procurement’s dreams about effectiveness and efficiency,” said Dr Silvia Hodges, ceo of Buying Legal Council, “Clients should quickly adopt the new standard and expect their firms to use it.” SALI was created to ensure all stakeholders in the industry have a voice to shape the most useful and relevant standards that will create a common language to drive efficiency and serve as a foundation for innovating. “The work SALI is doing to establish industry standards on matter types addresses two critical problems facing the legal industry: first our continuing quest for value-orientation and second, extreme inefficiency in the buying and selling of legal services,” said Jae Um, director of pricing strategy at Baker McKenzie. SALI expects Microsoft’s use of the standard to lead to further adoption.

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