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  • 2 Aug 2018 8:13 AM | SALI Alliance (Administrator)

    Standards tend to be an invisible, but very important part of any industry. And they impact all walks of life. But the big challenge of standards is helping the participants in any market understand what they are, why they should build them and how they will benefit all the players in a market.

    The legal market is especially challenging given our preference for precedents and the legacy craft/guild approach deeply embedded in our industry’s culture. With all of the rapid changes occurring, both on the technology side and more importantly on the client side of our market, now more than ever we need to embrace standards as a foundational means for driving and adapting to change. 

    SALI is the home for meeting that challenge, and we invite you to join the group and get involved in the standard development effort or join one of our committees.  SALI is not only driving significant advances for the industry, but creating a diverse community collaborating in a unique way.

    A basic tenet of SALI is being an independent, objective, neutral third party. This is important since it needs to drive standards that meet the needs of all participants in the legal market. Historically, standards bodies are designed this way to avoid outcomes that favor customers or suppliers unfairly. We feel that SALI meets that need in a unique and compelling way.

    To get where we are, took some doing. The first major task was helping market participants understand the need for standards, then convincing them that SALI was the best path to develop those standards.

    I am leaving the descriptions of the What, Why and How to others from SALI. I highly encourage you to read those materials if you are new to legal standards. Instead, I want to talk about the passion behind the creation of SALI and the energy driving it forward.

    As participants in the industry faced the challenge of pricing and scoping legal work, there was a sincere and difficult prospect of trying to find commonality around legal offerings to enable apples-to-apples comparisons of pricing bids. Attempts to move away from the billable hour demand the ability to price by the product (instead of the hour). Without common understandings of what those products are, it is very challenging to develop market pricing for both sellers and buyers. The lack of standard, accepted market definitions of these offerings is one major reason why non-hourly billing is still such a small segment of legal fees (about 16% per a recent survey).

    The need for these standards seems obvious once you pose the challenge and need in this way.

    So a group gathered to explore this challenge to see if there was enough support to meet it and to discuss how we should take it on. It did not take much discussion to come to the conclusion that there is a desperate need in the market for legal standards.

    From there a core group formed to take on the task of establishing an independent standards body (SALI). Independence is core to successful standards effort since adoption will fall short if the standard does not meet everyone’s needs. Related to independence, is having a well-defined intellectual property (IP) approach. This allows all participants, especially providers, to contribute their IP safely. And it makes it clear any standards developed will be the IP of SALI, which makes them freely available to the market.

    The core group has put in significant amounts of time, energy and thought. They all have brought passion and commitment to making this happen. Without this group, SALI would not exist today. So massive thank you’s go out to: Betsi Roach (and by extension the Legal Marketing Association ("LMA"), Oliver Yandle (and the Association for Legal Administrators ("ALA"), Adam Stock, Jim Hannigan, Justin Ergler, Keith Lipman and Mark Medice. This group has had their oars deep in the water for a couple of years making this happen.

    So what next?

    We need your involvement. Standards are not truly useful unless voices from all corners of the market get involved in their development. The core stakeholders of 1) Clients, 2) Lawyers and their Firms, and 3) Providers are obviously needed and highly valued. So if you come from one of those groups, we really need your time and input. Beyond those groups, there are many others who will bring valuable perspectives to the dialog, including academia, government (including the courts), associations, students, and many others.

    Now is your chance to be part of something transformative in the legal industry. Besides, gaining this experience will be good for both you and your employer. For you, you will build valuable knowledge in enhancing your career opportunities. For your employer, it will demonstrate their commitment to innovation and service. I highly encourage you to check out the SALI website where you can learn all about this effort and become a part of this innovative project.

    I look forward to connecting with many of you in this process going forward, getting your input and building this new standards community.

    Toby


    CONTACT: Toby Brown at tbrown@perkinscoie.com


  • 2 Aug 2018 8:07 AM | SALI Alliance (Administrator)

    The Committee has been busy putting finishing touches on outstanding issues relating to the matter category standard, in addition to drafting a specification to share with our technical partners, and building web browser pages that provide for convenient review of the standard by interested parties.

    The next phase of the development plan for the standard is to assemble working groups to help test and validate the standard against real matters. To that end, we reached out to the entire SALI contact list for interest in participating more directly, and the response was excellent. Expect to hear more about this effort in the near future.

    In addition, we've been having conversations with technical solutions providers that we hope will offer SALI their knowledge and experience in designing legal matter data tools and software that the standard is on the right track.

    Contacts: Adam Stock at astock@allenmatkinscom and Keith Lipman at keith@prosperoware.com

  • 2 Aug 2018 7:55 AM | SALI Alliance (Administrator)

    At the LMA P3 Conference in May, I had the pleasure of participating in the closing session titled “Whose Fault Is It?”  In a nutshell, the session pitted law firms against clients in a debate on who is to blame for the lack of true change in the legal industry.  In addition to being a lot of fun, the session made me realize that one of the biggest issues facing professionals on both sides is the lack of opportunity to drive change.  It is true that, as business professionals in the world of law, we have limited power to unilaterally force change.  

    We need buy-in from our general counsels, managing partners and other key industry leaders. There are definitely roadblocks that stand in the way of true progress on some of the loftier goals we talk about at events like P3 (I’m looking at you law firm compensation model!).  We can have the best ideas in the world, but they really don’t do any good if they never get put into motion.  All too often, we leave our conferences, put those great radical ideas on the shelf once we get back to the office, and dust them off come conference season the following year.
     
    This is one of the reasons the SALI initiative is so exciting for me.  It is an opportunity to drive true change in the legal industry that will be felt for years to come.  Everyone recognizes the problem of complaints about the lack of good data to drive some of the changes that have been talked about for decades.  The ability to better collect and leverage data will not only have near term benefits for the industry but will enable us to do more than just think about those higher level goals in the areas of service delivery, pricing, etc..
     
    The SALI Alliance has already recruited many thought leaders from across the service delivery lifecycle (clients / firms / vendors / academia) that have been talking and writing about change for years.  YOU have the opportunity to help drive this change.  This is your opportunity to take action and shape how things will look in the future rather than being forced to conform to systems and models defined by others.  I encourage you to seize this opportunity to be recognized as an innovator in the industry and look forward to working with you.

    Contact: Justin Ergler at justin.r.ergler@gsk.com

  • 2 Aug 2018 7:49 AM | SALI Alliance (Administrator)

    The communications committee is proud to issue our inaugural newsletter which we hope to become a recurring event highlighting the rapid developments on the SALI standard and change overall in the industry. These are exciting times.  Join our committee! We are seeking help in many areas to help get the word out.  If you have enthusiasm for legal industry standards and want to lend your voice to the cause in areas like PR, messaging, marketing, promotion, marketing tech, we welcome your collaboration to raise the SALI flag even higher to build our momentum further for productive change.

    CONTACTS: Mark Medice at mark@medicegroup.com, Jim Hannigan at jhannigan@allenmatkins.com 




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