Want to Control Legal Costs? Download the Legal Cost Control Checklist


A Dictionary of Legal Operations Terms

Working in legal ops requires a broad skillset—and an even broader knowledge base. If you’re new to the world of legal operations, getting a handle on common legal ops terminology can take some time. But even if you’re a seasoned legal professional, it’s oftentimes worth refreshing your memory on some of the key legal operations terms to keep yourself sharp.

That’s why we’ve put together the best legal operations dictionary for understanding the legal operations terms and acronyms that you’re likely to encounter in the role. Below you’ll find a full list of the most common legal operations acronyms and terms you might encounter, with in-depth definitions and descriptions to help you level up your knowledge.

Common Legal Operations Terms


Estimates from law firms on the cost of their ongoing work that they have not yet billed for.

Billing Guidelines

Also known as “outside counsel guidelines” or “outside counsel billing guidelines.” These billing frameworks provide law firms with clear expectations on how work should be billed to proactively ensure good billing hygiene and fewer billing disputes.

Change Management

Change management is the structured approach and techniques used to smoothly transition an organization or project from its current state to a desired future state, minimizing resistance and ensuring successful implementation. It typically involves planning, communication, stakeholder engagement, and proactive strategies to address challenges and support individuals throughout the change process.

Contract Management

Contract management refers to the systematic administration and oversight of contractual agreements throughout their lifecycle. This includes drafting, negotiation, execution, and performance monitoring. It also involves ensuring compliance with terms, mitigating risks, and optimizing value from contracts to achieve organizational goals.

Cost Codes

Letters or numerals assigned to cost categories to make cost control and oversight easier.

Data Privacy Compliance

Data privacy compliance refers to the adherence to legal and regulatory requirements regarding the protection, use, and disclosure of personal information. It involves implementing policies, procedures, and safeguards to protect data, obtain proper consent, and ensure individuals’ rights are respected based on global and regional laws.

Document Management

The systematic organization, storage, retrieval, and tracking of documents in a digital or physical format. Document management streamlines access, collaboration, and control over information within an organization.


The process of electronically generating, delivering, and managing invoices and payment transactions between businesses and their customers or clients. It eliminates the need for traditional paper-based billing. E-Billing improves the efficiency, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness in the billing process.


A digital representation of a person’s handwritten signature. Generally e-signature indicates the signer’s intent to approve, authenticate, or consent to a digital document or transaction.

Flat Fee

A fixed and predetermined amount charged for legal work, regardless of the time, effort, or resources expended by the law firm.


Refers to the process of combining different software systems, applications, or modules to enable seamless data flow, communication, and functionality across multiple platforms or technologies.


A document that provides a detailed record of services rendered, including the amount owed, payment terms, and other relevant information.

Law Firms

Legal vendors that are contracted by an in-house legal team. Law firms are often hired by organizations to take advantage of their increased work capacity and/or specialized knowledge and experience. They are also referred to as “outside counsel.”

Legal Analytics

The application of data analysis and statistical methods to legal data to extract insights, patterns, and trends that can inform legal strategies and predictions of outcomes. Often involves using technology and data-driven approaches to optimize legal processes.

Legal Operations Platform

A software solution or technology infrastructure that centralizes and automates various tasks, processes, and workflows within a legal department or organization. Typically, it encompasses functionalities such as matter management, contract management, document management, e-billing, reporting, analytics, and collaboration tools,

Legal Services

Any work conducted by a lawyer for a client. Legal services can cover a wide range of areas, including but not limited to litigation, corporate law, intellectual property, family law, real estate, and criminal law.

Matter Management

End-to-end management of legal cases, including tracking, organizing, and coordinating relevant information, documents, tasks, deadlines, and communications associated with each matter. Generally, the goal of matter management is to enhance efficiency, collaboration, and oversight in handling legal matters and to ensure effective representation and compliance.

Maverick Spend

Unauthorized or uncontrolled purchasing activities within an organization. This typically occurs when employees make purchases outside of established procurement processes or without proper approvals. This typically leads to increased costs, inefficiencies, and potential compliance issues.

Project Management

The process of controlling and managing legal matters with a clear understanding of scope, schedule, risk, and cost to ensure projects are completed in line with business objectives.

Legal Spend Management

The systematic approach and strategies employed by organizations to effectively control, track, and optimize their expenditures on legal services and related activities.

Trusted Guide

Term coined by Brightflag to describe the role played by Customer Success staff in ensuring customers receive the highest return on investment when it comes to implementing and utilizing their legal tech purchases.

Vendor Management

The process of effectively and efficiently overseeing the relationships, activities, and performance of third-party vendors in relation to an organization. Within legal operations, this work often involves communicating with outside counsel to address issues and make work more efficient.

Common Legal Operations Acronyms

ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel)

A global professional association that represents in-house counsel, legal professionals, and legal departments in corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. It is the largest organization exclusively serving the professional and business interests of in-house lawyers.

AFA (Alternative Fee Arrangement)

A non-traditional pricing structure or billing method used in legal services to determine the cost of legal representation or services, rather than using the traditional hourly billing model. AFAs are generally designed to provide flexibility, cost certainty, and align the interests of clients and law firms. They typically achieve this by offering alternatives to billing based solely on the number of hours worked.


Associate or Assistant General Counsel. This title refers to in-house counsel who report direct to the Deputy General Counsel.

A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)

In the legal field, A.I. technologies and techniques are often applied to enhance and automate various aspects of legal practice, research, and operations.

ALSP (Alternative Legal Services Provider)

A non-traditional provider of legal services that operates outside the traditional law firm structure. ALSPs offer a wide range of legal support services to law firms, corporate legal departments, and other clients. However, they differ from traditional law firms in terms of their structure, pricing models, and the types of services they offer.

CLM (Contract Lifecycle Management)

A systematic approach to managing contracts from initiation to expiration or renewal. It generally involves the end-to-end management of contracts, encompassing their creation, negotiation, execution, monitoring, and analysis.

CLOC (Corporate Legal Operations Consortium)

A non-profit professional association that brings together legal operations professionals and other stakeholders in the legal industry to promote collaboration, innovation, and the sharing of best practices. CLOC provides a platform for networking, education, and the development of industry standards and guidelines

DGC (Deputy General Counsel)

A senior legal executive within an organization who assists and supports the General Counsel (GC) in overseeing the legal affairs of the organization.

ELM (Enterprise Legal Management)

The strategies, processes, and technologies implemented by organizations to manage their legal operations and optimize the delivery of legal services. ELM generally encompasses a range of activities, including legal matter management, legal spend management, contract lifecycle management, compliance management, and overall legal department operations.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

A comprehensive and integrated software system that allows organizations to manage and automate various core business processes across multiple departments and functions. ERP systems provide a centralized database and a suite of applications to streamline and optimize business operations, enhance productivity, and facilitate data-driven decision-making.

GC (General Counsel)

The chief legal officer of an organization, typically a corporation or large company. The General Counsel is the highest-ranking in-house attorney and serves as the principal legal advisor to the organization’s executives and board of directors.

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

A comprehensive data protection and privacy regulation implemented by the European Union (EU) in 2018. Above all, a GDPR is designed to provide individuals with greater control and protection over their personal data and to harmonize data protection laws across EU member states.

KPI (Key Performance Indicator)

A measurable metric or data point used to evaluate the performance or progress of an individual, team, department, or organization in achieving specific objectives or targets. KPIs are considered essential tools for measuring and tracking performance, identifying areas for improvement, and assessing the success of strategic initiatives.

KRI (Key Risk Indicator)

A metric used to assessthe level of risk associated with a specific activity, process, or event within an organization. KRIs are typically designed to provide early warning signs and insights into potential risks that may impact the achievement of objectives or the overall performance of the organization.

LEDES (Legal Electronic Data Exchange Standard)

A widely used standard format for electronic data exchange in the legal industry. LEDES was developed to provide a consistent and uniform way to exchange legal billing and other legal-related data between law firms, corporate legal departments, and other legal service providers.

M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions)

Refers to the legal practice area that deals with providing legal advice and guidance to clients involved in buying, selling, merging, or restructuring companies.

PA (Practice Area)

A distinct category of legal practice that encompasses a particular subject matter or legal specialty. Lawyers may choose to specialize in one or more practice areas based on their interests, expertise, and the needs of their clients.

PDF Invoices

A bill for services presented in Portable Document Format. PDF invoices are more common outside the United States, where they are significantly more popular than LEDES invoices.

RFP (Request for Proposal)

A document issued by an organization or company to solicit proposals from potential vendors or service providers for a specific project, product, or service. It is a formal invitation that outlines the organization’s requirements, objectives, and evaluation criteria, allowing vendors to submit their proposals for consideration.

SOW (Statement of Work)

A formal document that outlines the specific details, deliverables, timelines, and terms of a project or engagement between a client and a service provider. It serves as a contractual agreement and provides a clear understanding of the scope of work to be performed.

SOX (Sarbanes Oxley Act)

A U.S. federal law enacted in response to corporate accounting scandals. Its primary objective is to enhance corporate governance, financial transparency, and investor protection. It introduced significant reforms to the regulation of public companies, accounting practices, and the responsibilities of corporate management and boards of directors.

TK (Timekeeper)

An individual within a law firm or legal department who is responsible for tracking and recording the amount of time spent by attorneys and other legal professionals on various tasks and activities. The timekeeper’s primary role is to accurately capture billable hours for client matters and ensure that time entries are properly recorded for invoicing purposes.

UTBMS (Uniform Task-Based Management System)

A standardized coding system used in the legal industry to classify and track the time, tasks, and expenses associated with legal services.

Learning More

We hope this comprehensive dictionary of common legal operations terms and acronyms serves as a useful reference. Click here to visit our blogs page and continue to expand your legal operations knowledge.


Brightflag is a comprehensive cloud software solution for managing global legal spend, including the ability to: centralize vendors and rates; set and track budgets; manage matters; review and approve invoices; collect accruals; and run reports on everything.