Nos Legal

NosLegal is a non-profit organization where we’re developing simpler, more usable, more beneficial ways to classify legal work and related topics.

I was one of the founding members of this project back in 2020. A small committed group of legal professionals from many paths of life (law firms, legal tech, academia) coordinated by the excellent Graeme Johnston at Juralio. The project grew to include members of Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, Herbert Smith Freehills, Wolters Kluwer, Freshfields, iManage, and many others.

What we do:

  • we’re developing simpler, more usable, more beneficial ways to classify legal work and related topics;
  • this isn’t a legal research project – our focus is on use cases such as managing and reporting on legal work, and knowledge and experience relating to it
  • on 31 March 2022, we published v1.0 of a taxonomy – you can read about it in this LinkedIn post
  • some minor updates followed in November 2022, and some major extensions (v2.0) in May 2023
  • you can download the taxonomy in Excel or JSON with detailed release notes and supporting slide decks from Github. Or browse them on Google Drive

The issue

What practical challenges do you face regarding categorisation of legal work?

We ran a survey in August 2020 – respondents were mainly law firms lawyers’, in-house counsels and professionals in other legal areas like legal operations, pricing, project and knowledge management.

Answers included:

  • Categories are largely selected on department by department basis;
  • Categories non meaningful for finding relevant precedents
  • Different jurisdictions/practice areas have different schemes
  • Creating a taxonomy that is flexible and responsive to changing markets whilsts being integrated into our financial and know-how system

The challenges showed 2 main areas of concern:  standardization and taking care of the different needs that users have when navigating legal data

The solution

In November 2020 we released a first version of a 3 faceted taxonomy:

  • legal contexts: what persons or things does this law or legal work affect or involve?

Users were free to categorise their legal material using all of the facets.

For instance, if your firm does a lot of Scottish family litigation then you could categorise your files using the facet “legal places” (Scotland) together with “legal contexts” (family) and “legal work” (litigation).

The taxonomy

Since 2020, the NosLegal group has been changing and updating the taxonomy. The latest release of the taxonomy is freely accessible on GoogleDrive and on Github

A short video were we explain what we do

You can see me blabber something on legal taxonomies at minute 3.54

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