The SALI Alliance has set itself a truly significant goal: to build a common standard for describing legal work, in effect a ‘common language’ to allow all lawyers, at least in the US for now, to turn the opaque and variable into the clear, shared and identifiable.
This taxonomy project has huge implications for the legal industry. It would lead to an increase in legal services transparency, and could drive up the use of fixed fees, and change how clients view price certainty in general when engaging with external providers.
In this AL TV interview with Kelly Harbour, who helps out with SALI Alliance projects, and is also Director of Client Relations & Innovation at Goulston & Storrs, we explore what SALI does and what the project means for the legal market.
(Press Play to watch/listen – approx. 16 mins.)
In short, if all law firms used a single, common means to describe all the various types of work they did, and this ‘language’, or taxonomy, was available to not just all law firms, but all clients, and all tech companies, then we would – in theory – all be on the same page when describing what lawyers make and do.
If we can point at a thing and say: ‘This is X’, we can then more easily put a price on it and also understand what we are paying for. We can also more easily compare X’s price at one firm with another’s, or with past matters. Clients can also better understand how they are making ‘legal things’ themselves. This is possible because the taxonomy would not be used by just one firm, or one client, but everyone in the market.
And in turn this drives better use of technology. Why? Because if we can share a common way to describe what people make and buy that inevitably leads to more clarity on pricing. As buyers become more aware of how X costs Y, then sellers will differentiate and boost margins in new ways. The key way to do this is via technology to drive up the efficiency in the production and delivery of that ‘legal product’.
Now, some firms may say: ‘Hold on….we don’t want to go down this road.’ But, the reality is that we are already doing so. Better to be out in front and have the ability to provide clients with what they want, in a way that they want.
It’s inevitable that as more and more data is collected on legal services that the market will stop and ask: ‘If we have all this information, can we not share some of it? Can we not look for patterns and shared commonalities?’ And the answer is: yes, we can.
You can’t live in a world full of data and not expect some of it to end up creating a shared perception of what is happening in the market.
Law firms and organisations already supporting SALI include plenty of big names, from Baker McKenzie and Clifford Chance, to Microsoft and Intapp.
- Association of Legal Administrators
- Legal Marketing Association
- International Legal Technology Association (founding member)
- Allen Matkins
- Baker McKenzie
- Barnes & Thornburg
- Bloomberg Law
- Clifford Chance
- Cox Automotive
- Fish & Richardson
- Goulston & Storrs
- Greenberg Traurig
- Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn
- King & Wood Mallesons
- Level 2 Legal Solutions
- Lewis Rice
- McKool Smith
- Mishcon de Reya
- Pepper Hamilton
- Perkins Coie
- Schulte Roth & Zabel
- Shearman & Sterling
- Thomson Reuters
- Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis
- Winston & Strawn
- Wolters Kluwer
- Baker Donelson
- Buying Legal
- Foundation Software Group
- International Institute of Legal Project Management
- Reynen Court
- SingerLinks Consulting
To find out more about SALI, check out the main site: SALI.
Kelly Harbour, (see AL TV video) has also kindly provided her contact details for those who are interested in joining and supporting the SALI Alliance project: