10.27.20: Council of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE

The LVN Council of Luminaries is comprised of veteran thought leaders and pioneers in the business of law community. The objective behind assembling this group is to establish a brain trust of recognized, experienced and progressive leaders who can help interpret developments in the market, provide advice on how to successfully approach and navigate challenges, predict future trends and changes to prepare for, and to participate in targeted special projects to benefit the legal industry as a whole.


The below meeting was conducted primarily with the Council Of Luminaries CLIENT-SIDE group.


Data standards and participating in industry efforts to get a common taxonomy.

Luminary 1 – My interest is in trying to obtain some common standards around matter naming conventions, so we can understand interoperability between organizations.

Luminary 2 – SALI is working to provide a common language for the industry to serve as the catalyst for better outcomes, value, comparison. The SALI standards will give me the ability to, if I have a new matter, to know what it should cost. SALI helps me understand what it looks like via a unique set of codes to see when we’ve done this before and what did it cost.

In the future, some organization could consolidate and provide this data. So a client could know, “you’ve got a matter of this type with this code, and here’s what others have paid for it in the past.”

Because right now our intake process is – if someone asks what something costs – it comes all from memory. This would be much more of a standardized process enabled by coding.

Luminary 1 – SALI is a not-for-profit to develop open practical standard and provide common language for the industry. The idea is to standardize terminology. A lot is about the taxonomy. I am hopeful that legal tech providers could apply these standards, so we don’t have do data matching and matter matching. SALI is just one of the efforts. There are others. But what are others thinking about the concept?

Luminary 2 – Standards are only valuable once we get adoption. We are trying to get vendors to all use this as an out-of-the-box coding so firms don’t need to create programs to match data. The question now is: How should this look? How can we make sure it’s relevant? SALI is now ready to be implemented. We are talking already about implementing this at my company.

Luminary 3 – What’s SALI stand for

Luminary 1 – Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry

Luminary 3 – how does it differ from UTBMS/ABA/LEDES codes

Luminary 2 – Those are “bottom up,” like L codes for specific tasks. This is top down, starting with matter categorization and classification.

Luminary 4 – so are we looking for a common nomenclature/code for say “an acquisition in this jurisdiction?

Luminary 2 – Yes.

Luminary 3 – Is it internal or external?

Luminary 1 – Look at the FAQ on the SALI website. That’s helpful. The 4 ways that I classify a slip-and-fall might be different than someone else classifies that. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the same definition and matter code itself? Endorsers include ACC, Buying Legal, Microsoft, LVN, LEDES, Thomson Reuters. Because right now the data mapping and matter mapping is unbelievably difficult.

Luminary 5 – Has the taxonomy been created?

Luminary 2 – It’s all been created and peer reviewed. It’s about getting it implemented. We are trying to get more adoption. It’s only a standard if it’s a standard with many firms/companies using it.

Luminary 5 – And also it seems it could be useful internally, even if you can’t get external data.

Luminary 2 - There is a standards committee to make changes as we go.

Luminary 5 – The difficulty is if it’s too detailed people won’t use it, but if it’s not detailed enough there’s no value.

Luminary 2 – Some industries might require some additions to the code set. And those come back to the commission

Luminary 3 – How do you keep from getting too granular? Sounds like there will be an industry group that polices that?

Luminary 2 – Each firm can get as granular as they want to, but the idea is at the higher levels, keep those consistent so we leave open the option to share data. Maybe just the top few levels are standard, then each company can add, but the additions have to be lower in the hierarchy.

Luminary 1 – I want to build on this a little bit. Imagine a world in which we wanted to create a contribution model where you could on an anonymous and aggregated basis, share your results. So that if you want to understand of what a slip and fall case (or whatever, even if more complex) costs in Omaha, I’d be able to get an understanding. The foundation would be common nomenclature around naming convention, which is SALI. Without that the back end it’s impossible. If you can cut through that layer and get to something like this, it opens up a whole new world of what we can do with our data. That’s the outward vision. That’s where I’m hoping this goes.

Luminary 5 – Including outcome info? Luminary 1 – Yes. Anonymized and aggregated. Cost info for both cost of legal services, plus ancillaries (e.g. court reporters, etc.), and experts. No one is doing that and there is a reason: it’s hard. Right now, these analytics companies are just scraping from public documents, but all you get are the less than 2% of cases that are tried. Nothing from those that settle.

Luminary 5 – Outcomes are more valuable sometimes than others.

Luminary 1 – There’s a danger in benchmarking against only your own metrics.

Luminary 4 – This is akin to UTBMS. But where that falls down is clients creating custom codes. I’ve heard many times that the UTBMS code set is 90% effective, so they just add a few codes. Once every company does that, you don’t have a standard. Maybe convincing everyone to leave the top of the hierarchy alone and just customize below a certain level will help.

Luminary 6 – Is there a process to make code changes on UTMBS? When we went through this process, we used the codes. No one really used them right, but at least it was a start. But we had like an overlay, where we annotated the codes and reframed a couple of them. It was custom and we tried to maintain the spirit. But it was hard. I’d like to get an update on what’s going on there.

Next steps: Bring representative of SALI in to further update and reach out to the LEDES Subcommittee to discuss the current state of the UTBMS codes.

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