Centerbase Resources

Legal Terms Glossary

  1. Accounts Payable: Short-term debt that a company owes for products/services received before a payment is made, often abbreviated AP or A/P.
  2. Accounts Receivable: The amount of money due or owed to a business or professional by customers or clients in exchange for services rendered.
  3. Aged A/R: Accounts receivable are categorized according to the length of time an invoice has been outstanding.
  4. ALA: The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) provides extensive professional development, collaborative peer communities, strategic operational solutions, and business partner connections to professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments, and government legal agencies.
  5. Alternative Fee Arrangement (AFA): AFA for law firm services that are not on standard hourly rates, such as fixed fees by matter or phases of a matter. In a strict sense, not at all based on the billable hour, so excludes blended or discounted hourly rates. But often these hourly fees are lumped in with true value-based fees. Typically seen outside of litigation, e.g., in estate planning and some other transactional work.
  6. American Bar Association: The American Bar Association (ABA) is the largest voluntary organization of American lawyers, not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States, but is prestigious in formulating guidelines for the practice of law, giving direction to legislation, lobbying for the law profession, and evaluating federal judges.
  7. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Computer science methods that allow computers to complete tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, problem-solving, and learning. AI is being incorporated into legal technology that helps automate certain manual processes and administrative tasks which currently burden attorneys. While there is great promise for AI, legal departments have been slow to adopt this type of technology due to concerns over accuracy, reliability, and implementation cost.
  8. Associate: A junior (or sometimes senior) attorney who works for a professional organization, such as a law firm, or is employed by another attorney. They are not considered a partner or a member of a law firm.
  9. Attorney-Client Privilege: The legal privilege that keeps confidential communications between an attorney and his or her client secret.
  10. Attorney: A person who has been qualified by a state or federal court to provide legal services, including appearing in court. Each state has a bar examination which is a qualifying test to practice law.
  11. Attorney’s Fees: Amount billed to a client for legal services performed on their behalf, which can take several forms 1) hourly charge, 2) flat fee for the performance of a particular service ($250 to write a will), 3) contingency, or 4) hybrid.
  12. Audit: An examination of an individual or organization’s financial records and documents by a trained accountant.
  13. Automation: The process of having tasks originally manually performed by humans completed by computers in order to increase efficiency. Automation becomes a key ally in improving efficiency and lowering costs for legal departments. Standard processes like contract review, approvals, NDAs, and matter management can all be automated and streamlined with a legal operations management platform.
  14. Bank Deposits: Money placed into a deposit account (such as savings, checking, and money market accounts) at a banking or financial institution.
  15. Bar Association: A professional group of attorneys, whether local, national, or international, established to promote professional competence, enforce standards of ethical conduct, and encourage a spirit of public service.
  16. Bar: The legal profession as an institution. The “bar” comes from the bar or railing which separates the general spectator area of the courtroom from the area reserved for judges, attorneys, parties, and court officials.
  17. Benchmarking: A management technique that looks to identify best practices in other organizations within the industry before adopting them in one’s own.
  18. Big Data: A database that holds all your raw data without filters and segments. As the prioritization of data continues to grow in legal departments, it is critical for legal teams to work with their vendors to ensure their data is protected.
  19. Bill Template: Document generated serving as prior authorization, contract, and payment mechanism for services.
  20. Bill: A formal, written declaration requesting payment for a specific action.
  21. Billable Events: Any event that occurs during a scheduled billing period that may include that event on a bill.
  22. Billing Codes: A defined identifier used by a particular software to identify each case for the purposes of billing.
  23. Blockchain Technology: A system of blocks (information captured) aligned in a chain (linear order) in order to capture edits, transactions, and distribution. The goal of this technology is to allow information to be captured and shared, without the fear of false/insecure information. For example, if a transaction is made by someone, the block would capture all the transaction data and assign a unique identifier to that transaction. If a hacker were to go into that transaction and try to increase the charge, a new block along the chain would be created. Therefore, you will always be able to identify your original transaction. Although blockchain technology is fairly new to the legal sector, it is expected to play an important role in revolutionizing contracts, corporate filings, document notarizations, and even the criminal justice system.
  24. Budget: An estimate of costs, revenues, and resources over a specified period, reflecting a reading of future financial conditions and goals.
  25. Calendar: List of cases to be called for trial before a particular court; to set and give a date and time for a case, petition, or motion to be heard by a court. Usually a judge, a trial setting commissioner, or the clerk of the court calendars cases.
  26. Case Law: Reported decisions of appeals courts and other courts which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedent in a given case.
  27. Case: A general term for any action, Cause of Action, lawsuit, or controversy; all the evidence and testimony compiled and organized by one party in a lawsuit to prove that party’s version of the controversy at a trial in court.
  28. Change Management: The process of planning and implementing change within organizations in a thoughtful and educational manner, minimizing employee resistance and cost while maximizing the effectiveness of the change effort.
  29. Chart of Accounts: A list of all the accounts you must use to record financial transactions in your general ledger.
  30. Checks: A written order or request instructing a bank or other financial institution to transfer funds from the payor’s account (the person who has the account and signs the check) to the payee’s account.
  31. Claim: A demand for money, for property, or for enforcement of a right provided by law.
  32. Class Action: A type of civil lawsuit filed by one or more people on behalf of themselves and a larger group of people “who are similarly situated” and have been harmed in the same way by the same entity.
  33. Client Intake: The initial contact with a prospective client, which may include steps like potential conflict screenings. This is the first opportunity to build trust and to start providing a great client experience.
  34. CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium): A global community of experts focused on redefining the business of law. By helping legal operations professionals collaborate with each other and with other industry players, including law firms, technology providers, and law schools, CLOC works to help set industry standards and practices for the profession.
  35. Cloud Storage: Data storage on offsite servers hosted by an outside entity.
  36. Cloud-Based Software: Applications that are stored on an online server as opposed to your local server. An advantage to these platforms is that software vendors are now responsible for maintaining the platforms versus having your internal IT department maintain the platforms. In addition, you can access these platforms from anywhere as long as you have internet access. Many of the modern legal operations management platforms are cloud-based applications that allow legal teams to store their matter data and access it wherever needed.
  37. Compliance Management Software: Software used by legal compliance departments to monitor and track an organization’s activities and processes to ensure they are complying with all laws and regulations. Compliance management also consists of correcting any violations in order to stay compliant and avoid lawsuits against the organization.
  38. Conflict Checks: The process by which an attorney ensures his/her representation of one client is not averse to another client.
  39. Conflict of Interest: A situation in which a person has a duty to more than one person or organization but cannot do justice to the actual or potentially adverse interests of both parties.
  40. Contingency Fee: A fee to a lawyer which will be due and payable only if there is a successful conclusion of the legal work, usually winning or settling a lawsuit in favor of the client (particularly in negligence cases), or collecting funds due with or without filing a lawsuit.
  41. Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM): The management of an organization’s contracts from initiation through execution, performance, and renewal/expiration.
  42. Counsel:
    1. To provide legal advice or guidance to someone on a specific subject matter.
    2. A lawyer giving advice about a legal matter.
  43. Credits: Right granted by a creditor to an applicant to defer payment of a debt.
  44. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: Software that allows your department to manage customer relationships and interactions by tracking all forms of engagement and customer/potential customer information. The goal is to help improve business and customer relationships by streamlining engagement processes. There are a number of law firm-specific CRMs that focus on client acquisition, contract management, and outreach. It is important to understand that a CRM is not a Case Management Software, but many CRMs integrate with popular case management platforms available.
  45. Data Analytics: The process of transforming and cleaning data to discover insights about your organization/department in order to make key decisions and increase efficacy. While in legal departments, data analytics can cover a range of metrics, many legal departments are leveraging analytical data to improve their spending management to avoid becoming a cost center.
  46. Deadlines: The particular day on or before which something must be done to comply with law or contractual obligation.
  47. Debits: Entry made on the asset side of a ledger or account; a sum charged as due or owing
  48. Debtor:
    1. A person or entity that owes an amount of money or favor to another.
    2. In bankruptcy, the party whose affairs are the subject of the proceedings is called the “debtor.”
  49. Declaration of Trust: A document used to establish the primary details of a trust.
  50. Document Management: The storage and handling of documents (such as contracts, licenses, letters, emails, notices, reports, etc.) that relate to legal matters.
  51. e-Signature: An on-demand signature service enabling organizations to execute business documents and contracts online without the passing back and forth of printed papers, also known as a digital signature.
  52. eDiscovery Software: Software that streamlines your eDiscovery process by holding all your data in one place for easy research, collaboration, and sharing. With eDiscovery software, legal teams can easily share information with law firms, clients, and vendors all from one platform.
  53. Electronic Billing (e-billing): A foundational legal operations tool that provides a streamlined and automated way to manage invoices submitted in any electronic format. e-Billing collects and stores invoice data, providing visibility into legal spending while offering other features such as invoice routing and advanced reporting for better financial management.
  54. Encryption: Data security method that uses code to hide or distort information so that it can’t be linked to an individual or properly understood.
  55. Enterprise Legal Management (ELM): The operation and administration of both the responsibilities and strategies of a corporate legal department such as e-Billing, matter management, document management, reporting, and workflow and collaboration.
  56. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): An integrated information system that serves multiple departments or business units within a single enterprise by integrating a multi-module application software environment in order to assist a customer in managing processes integral to its overall business (product planning, parts purchasing, inventory maintenance, supplier and customer interaction, customer service, order tracking, and finance and human resources tasks).
  57. Estate Tax: Taxation of property held by an individual at the time of their death.
  58. Expense: In business accounting and business taxation, any current cost of operation, such as rent, utilities, and payroll, is distinguished from the capital expenditure for long-term property and equipment.
  59. Fee: Compensation paid for particular acts, services, or labor, generally, those that are performed in the line of official duties or a particular profession.
  60. Firm Accounting: The methods of determining income and expenses for tax and other financial purposes.
  61. Firm Administrator: Non-attorney professionals who oversee the day-to-day operations of a law firm.
  62. Flat Fee: A pricing structure that charges a single fixed fee for a service, regardless of usage.
  63. Form Designer: A tool within Centerbase that lets you change the layouts of your matters, clients, bills, etc.
  64. General Ledger (GL): Main accounting ledger used by businesses to debit and credit accounts and is used to create businesses’ financial statements.
  65. Hourly Fee: The amount charged for each hour of services.
  66. Integrations: Integrations, specifically application integrations, allow you to connect your tech stack with other platforms through native, custom, and API integrations. For legal departments, having a legal operations platform that can easily integrate with 3rd party applications in different departments helps improve data exchange reliability and accuracy, automate workflows, and increase efficiency.
  67. Intellectual Property (IP): Refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names, and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by patents, copyright, and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.
  68. Invoice: A list of legal services provided by a law firm, including a statement showing the sum due for these services.
  69. Journal Entries: Used to record a law firm’s business transactions onto its books.
  70. Knowledge Management: The process of creating, sharing, using, and managing the information and assets of an organization to facilitate the flow of knowledge to and between the right people at the right time.
  71. LawToolBox: An automatic deadlining and calendar solution for law firms.
  72. Lawyer: Someone authorized to practice law, also called attorney-at-law.
  73. LEDES (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard): A file format with specifications that support hourly billing, flat fee billing, expenses, multiple currencies, and tax to ensure standardization during the exchange of billing and other information between corporations and law firms
  74. Legal Operations Manager: Oversees various legal ops team members’ day-to-day activities and ongoing projects, such as taking care of outside counsel and vendors, overseeing budgets, and fulfilling staffing needs.
  75. Legal Operations Platform: A solution that centralizes all legal matters, vendors, and spending, and connects the relevant data and applications of a legal department to ultimately transform how a corporate legal team operates and is managed.
  76. Legal Tech: Technology and software that enables legal teams to move faster and more efficiently, while reducing costs.
  77. Marketing Campaigns: All marketing methods intended to generate requests by targeting a population using specific messaging.
  78. Matter Management: Procedures within the legal department regarding how matters (projects) and related data (matter types, location, parties, documents, events, etc.) are gathered, tracked and used for decision-making throughout the matter lifecycle.
  79. Matter: A subject of consideration, disagreement, or litigation such as a legal case, dispute, or issue; often used in titles of legal proceedings.
  80. Mobile App: A software application designed to be operated on a mobile device such as a smartphone.
  81. Net Documents: A premium document management system for law firms.
  82. Office365: A Microsoft suite of products such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.
  83. Online Banking: Allows a user to conduct financial transactions via the Internet.
  84. Online Case Management: A system that allows attorneys to manage all documents and progress of a case they are working on. These tools come in handy when a case is large in scale, document-heavy, and involves multiple teams of attorneys. Online case management systems focus on the progress of specific cases while matter management platforms take a holistic view of all legal activity, not just case progress.
  85. Origination: Determined based on the dollar value of revenue from clients or matters a partner has brought to a firm and is awarded to that partner in the compensation process for those clients or matters, regardless of who is currently working on the matter.
  86. Originator: The person who is responsible for the origination of clients or matters they’ve brought to a firm. This can be set at the matter level.
  87. Outside Counsel: An outside law firm contracted to work on behalf of a client (typically the legal department within an organization), also referred to as a vendor.
  88. P&L Report: A financial statement showing a business’s gross income and expenses, used to determine the net profit or loss for a specific period.
  89. Paralegal: A person, qualified by education, training, or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, government agency, or other entity who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
  90. Parties: A person or entity who takes part in a legal transaction.
  91. Partner: One of the co-owners and investors in a “partnership” which is an ongoing business enterprise entered into for profit. Specifically, at a law firm, a partner is a lawyer who maintains partial ownership of the firm where they work.
  92. Payments: Delivery of money, or its equivalent, in either specific property or services by a debtor to a creditor.
  93. Plaintiff: The party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the clerk of the court against the defendant(s) demanding damages.
  94. Potential New Clients: A person who consults with a lawyer about the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship with respect to a matter.
  95. Practice Area: An area of law in which an attorney primarily focuses their career; area of expertise or specialty for an attorney.
  96. Practice Management Software: Software designed to manage a law firm’s client and case records, billing and bookkeeping, calendars, deadlines, documents, and to facilitate any compliance requirements such as conflict checks, document retention, and courts’ electronic filing systems.
  97. Pro Bono: Legal work performed by lawyers without pay to help people with legal problems and limited or no funds, or to provide legal assistance to organizations involved in social causes.
  98. Procurement: All stages of the process of acquiring property or services, beginning with the process of determining a need for property or services and ending with contract completion and closeout.
  99. QuickBooks: An accounting software whose products provide desktop and online accounting applications as well as cloud-based ones which can process bills and business payments.
  100. Records Management: The management of information within an organization including storing, securing, and tracking information.
  101. Referrals: The act of officially sending someone to a person or authority qualified to deal with their needs.
  102. Refunds: To pay back money that ought not to have been paid by the party who has received it, to the party who has paid it.
  103. Request for Proposal (RFP): A business document that provides information on a project to support a request for proposals from multiple vendors to identify the best option. Similarly, a legal RFP is when an in-house counsel presents vendors with a request for new legal tech or presents law firms with a legal project and requests them to provide pricing proposals for the legal work required.
  104. Retainer: Advance payment to an attorney for services to be performed, intended to ensure that the lawyer will represent the client and that the lawyer will be paid at least that amount.
  105. Software as a Service (SaaS): A software delivery model in which the software is developed by a third-party vendor and its associated data are hosted on the cloud, where users access through a portal such as a web browser.
  106. Split Billing: Division of a bill for service into two or more par Bills may be split to divide work between clients, and payers, or for reimbursement to different service providers for performing a shared service.
  107. SSO (Single Sign-On): Enables a user to use one set of login credentials to access multiple applications, providing a better user experience by reducing the number of required accounts and passwords while increasing overall security.
  108. Timekeeper (TK): A person within the legal department, such as an attorney, paralegal, associate, or admin, who calculates how much time is spent working on a matter or project in order to accurately bill the client.
  109. Timekeeping: Recording the time and tasks performed on specific cases.
  110. Trust Account: A special bank account that a lawyer or law firm must maintain in order to receive and hold money on behalf of their clients or third parties
  111. Trust Accounting: Maintaining client funds that are held in trust.

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