The standards have changed. According to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers must stay current on the benefits and risks associated with technology. In addition to being an expert on the constant evolution of the law and being able to interpret complex legal speak for non-attorney clients, lawyers must also study the impact of technology and globalization in the legal profession.
Legal technology is amplifying productivity, providing greater visibility into legal matters, and decreasing legal spend by enforcing billing guidelines with the use of e-Billing solutions. While these are all great results, the journey can feel rather daunting as the breadth of a legal professional’s expertise is spreading further and further.
Fear not. Below is a list of 21 technology terms that you can refer to anytime you hear a word that makes your eyes glaze over in confusion.
API- Short for Application Programming Interface. This is a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. The API allows software components to interact with each other. For example, when you copy and paste text from one application to another, it is the API that allows that to work.
Big Data- This refers to large sets of data that can be analyzed to display patterns, trends, and associations especially as it pertains to human behavior and interactions. Unlike a typical database of information, for a collection of data to be deemed “Big Data” the information must be expanding on three Vs: Velocity, Volume, and Variety. This complex combination is placed into a mathematical algorithm to look for repeatable patterns.
Cloud- Cloud computing shares computing resources similar to utilities used in a residence. The cloud uses networks of large groups of servers that contain systems that are linked together to deliver storage and applications over the internet rather than having local servers handle them.
Contract Management Solution- A legal contract lifecycle management solution may track electronic submissions, manage documents, support negotiation and revision, record approvals, and issue reminders of milestones and dates. This allows attorneys to work together as strategic partners to the rest of the organization. Click here to learn more.
Dashboard- In information technology, a dashboard is a user interface that, somewhat resembling an automobile’s dashboard, organizes and presents information in a way that is easy to read. This is typically a configurable home page for a software system that gives you visibility into the areas that you access the most.
DMS (Document Management System)- Typically a software program that tracks, manages, and store digital documents. Some DMS systems allow for multiple users to collaborate on a document by keeping a record of versions and modifications.
e-Billing- This is an electronic method for outside counsel to send invoices to in-house legal departments through a secure portal to enforce billing guidelines. Rather than sending an invoice for services rendered for a legal professional to manually review for accuracy, an e-Billing solution will automatically flag any item/fee/hours that have not previously been agreed upon. Click here to see an example of an e-Billing solution: Collaborati.
Encryption- Encryption is the mathematical scrambling of data so that it is protected from hackers. This translation of data is the most effective way to hide private information from anyone who does not hold the key/password that enables the reader to view the decrypted information.
Firewall- This provides a barrier of security against hackers and viruses that could take over your computer system or access private data. This can be installed as hardware or software, and are most often used to prevent any unauthorized users from accessing private networks.
Hosting (or web hosting)- A service provider that offers shared hosting or dedicated hosting of a service to customers. There are three main types of hosting available: 1) Shared Web hosting, where a number of web sites are typically housed on the same server. 2) Dedicated web hosting (or physically separated), where an entire server is leased and reserved for a single website. 3) Virtual Private Server Hosting (or logically separated), a hybrid of the first two options in which a website is hosted on its own virtual server so that it won’t be affected by the web sites of other customers. Click here to learn more about the benefits of hosting.
IoT (Internet of Things)- This is the ability to transfer data over a network connecting people, objects, wearable devices, animals, and machines without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. It is predicted by analyst firm Gartner that by 2020 there will be over 25 billion connected devices. This giant network of things has the ability to serve predictable functions for consumers and their behaviors. For example, you phone could set an alarm to wake you up at 6am while notifying your coffee maker to brew your morning coffee.
Malware- This term is short for malicious software. This is any program or file that is specifically designed by hackers to damage or disrupt a system such as a virus, Trojan Horse, spyware, or programming that gathers information about a computer user without permission.
Matter Management Solution- A matter (or case) can be defined as a contract, litigation, claim, dispute, or issue that is handled by a legal department. A cohesive matter management software solution acts as a hub of activity for the legal professionals driving efficient collaboration with both internal stakeholders and other firms, providing detailed legal data at your fingertips, and ensuring maximum value to the entire organization. Implementing a matter management solution into your legal department gives insight into matter status, budgets, tasks, appointments, documentation, involved parties, related matters, research, and reports- all in a single unified system of record. Learn more about matter management here.
Multi-Tenant- This is a structure in which a single instance of a software application serves multiple customers (tenants). A multi-tenant solution will often allow users to customize portions of the system such as colors, fields, and business rules, but they cannot customize the application’s code (foundation). This allows businesses or users to share IT resources securely for a cost efficient model. You can think of this as an apartment building in which many tenants share the infrastructure of the building, but have walls that give them privacy from other renters.
On-Premise- Also referred to as “client-hosted”. An on-premise software solution is installed and operated from a customer’s in-house server and computing infrastructure. With this method, the customer is responsible for the security and maintenance of the software.
Push- The delivery of information on the web that is initiated by the information server rather than by the user or client, as it usually is. For example, many smartphones alert us when we have received new emails in our inbox as a repetitive push of information without the user requesting that notification.
SaaS- This term is short for Software as a Service. SaaS is a cloud computing model that allows users to access all features and functionality without the need to invest in the hardware installation, set-up, daily upkeep, and maintenance issues that arise with complete ownership. You can think of a SaaS model as renting a house (software) where the renter pays a monthly amount (subscription) to reside in a home (server), and any maintenance issues are handled by the landlord (Support/Services team). The key benefit of the SaaS model is the availability of new features automatically delivered without any upgrading or installment for the user.
SAML- Pronounced: Sam-il. Short for Security Assertion Markup Language. SAML capabilities provide a framework that ensures transmitted communications are secure, and allows for single sign on capabilities for web services.
Single Sign On (SSO)- This allows for a user or client to enter one name and password, and have access to multiple applications or resources within an instance. This eliminates the need for any user to enter a form of authentication each time a user switches from one application to another.
UI- This is the abbreviated term for User Interface. This is the interaction between a human and the interface of the technology they are using. Common software UI elements would be fonts, colors, icons, menu options, the layout of the screen, and buttons as a way for the user to communicate what they want their system to do for them. A poor UI on a powerful system would be similar to sitting in on an exciting conversation in a language you do not understand.
UX- This is the abbreviated term for User Experience. This is used to describe the total experience a human user has while interacting with a product, in this case, a piece of software. A good UX should meet the exact needs of a user in the simplest way possible. If the overall impression of a system as the user navigates through the product is pleasant and efficient, then the UX has been successfully created.