Tech Dictionary for Lawyers

At Legal Tech West Coast, several technologists and lawyers noted that communication, or lack thereof, is a problem for lawyers and technologists. Lawyers have a tough time explaining what they want in a product, and technologists often assume that they know what lawyers want and how their programs should work. Ultimately, we need to start speaking the same language so that we can make some progress.

I decided that a tech dictionary for lawyers (and a legal dictionary for technologists) is a good way to start bridging that gap. Here are a few words that lawyers should know to understand legal technology that is available, so that they can take advantage of it.

THE TERMS

Lean Practice: Lean practice is a concept based on “lean manufacturing” or “lean production,” which is a method of eliminating waste in the manufacturing or production system. The idea is to maximize value and minimize waste. When it comes to your law practice, the goal is to maximize the value of your time and eliminate tasks that waste it. Technology often helps this process by automating routine tasks, allowing you to focus on value creating activities. Other variations of the term include the “lean startup,” as coined by Eric Ries in his book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, who proposes that startups can be more successful by releasing imperfect, yet working products, and making revisions over time by making hypothesis, testing them, and learning from their successes and failures. This philosophy has been expanded to apply to teams, companies or anyone looking to introduce a new product or service into the market. The goal is to minimize risk, and meet the needs of your customers by conducting the experiments and making constant improvements to your products. Both methods employ a cost benefit analysis, and focus on maximizing the benefits and eliminating unnecessary costs; both can be applied to managing a law practice.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a category of software that helps businesses manage customer data and interaction, access business information, automate processes, including customer support and also manage employee and vendor relationship. It can take on various forms and can help lawyers keep a track of their leads. When leads turn into clients, their information can be merged into Practice Management Software. CRMs are often customized to meet the user’s needs. (Example: Lexicata)

Note. See my review of Lexicata here.

E-Discovery is “Electronic Discovery” and the use of technology to obtain electronically stored information (or “ESI”) in the course of litigation. It is a cost-saving method of using sophisticated software that helps sift through ESI, including documents, emails, messages, and related content. The software allows users to use terms or “keywords” like you would in a search engine, to locate relevant or privileged documents. 

Lean Practice: Lean practice is a concept based on “lean manufacturing” or “lean production,” which is a method of eliminating waste in the manufacturing or production system. The idea is to maximize value and minimize waste. When it comes to your law practice, the goal is to maximize the value of your time and eliminate tasks that waste it. Technology often helps this process by automating routine tasks, allowing you to focus on value creating activities. Other variations of the term include the “lean startup,” as coined by Eric Ries in his book, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses, who proposes that startups can be more successful by releasing imperfect, yet working products, and making revisions over time by making hypothesis, testing them, and learning from their successes and failures. This philosophy has been expanded to apply to teams, companies or anyone looking to introduce a new product or service into the market. The goal is to minimize risk, and meet the needs of your customers by conducting the experiments and making constant improvements to your products. Both methods employ a cost benefit analysis, and focus on maximizing the benefits and eliminating unnecessary costs; both can be applied to managing a law practice.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – If you scan a document, you generally get a PDF document that you can store. OCR is technology that helps convert that PDF into a word document so you can edit it again. E-Discovery tools often have OCR that can convert all your stored PDFs into searchable files.

Practice Management Software is a category of software that deals with day-to-day operations of a law firm. It allows lawyers to capture client information, schedule meetings, keep track of billing and tasks, and generate reports. (Example: Clio) (Also known as Law Practice Management, or LPM)

TAR (Technology Assisted Review) (aka Predictive Coding) is the combined human and computer review of electronically stored information. It describes a process whereby computers are programmed to search a large amount of data to find quickly and efficiently the data that meet a particular requirement.

Stay tuned for more!


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