Integrations and Taxonomy in Experience Management

JD Supra Perspectives

[The last in a three-part series on getting started in Experience Management by Rachel Shields Williams – Director, Knowledge Management Enablement & Insights at Sidley Austin LLP:]

Part Three – Integrations and Taxonomy

An Experience Management System (EMS) can aggregate data from formally siloed internal systems and data from third-party data sources. Before evaluating EMS products, an organization should conduct an audit of its existing internal systems and current third-party data source subscriptions (and integration capabilities) to determine what data points are available, how systems are structured and maintained, and which should be integrated. It is recommended to start with the top two or three internal and external data sources that will help support the business goals and use cases identified at the beginning of the project then add more integrations over time.

Internal Systems

Internal systems that should be considered for integration include the following:

  • Conflicts System
  • Contact Relationship Management (CRM) & Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) Systems
  • Content Management Systems
  • Custom Repositories
  • Docketing System
  • Financial System
  • Firm Websites
  • Human Resource Management System (HRMS)
  • New Business Intake (NBI) System
  • Practice Management System
  • Project Management System
  • Timekeeping System

External Systems

In addition, external systems, such as third-party data subscription services, should be considered for integration. There are too many third-party data sources to list here; however, common integration sources include the following:

  • Capital IQ (company and deal data)
  • Convergence (investment adviser data)
  • Dun & Bradstreet (company and financial data)
  • Fastcase/Docket Alarm (case data)
  • Litigation Analytics Westlaw Edge (case data)
  • Manzama (news)
  • Pitchbook (private fund data)
  • Preqin (private fund data)

Developing an Integration Strategy

The stakeholder team should collectively consider:

  • How all of the data sources might interact with each other and be leveraged off each other.
  • Whether systems share information or are siloed.
  • Whether multiple systems store the same data, resulting in redundant repositories and work streams.
  • How a single source of truth for the organization might be created by joining the data from multiple systems.


The EMS design process often exposes an organization’s need for a standard taxonomy for each concept used across systems; this requires threading a delicate balance between how the outside world describes a given attribute and how members of a specific organization want to describe it (and how they have described it historically). Any taxonomy should have enough structural integrity to withstand the scrutiny of practicing lawyers and enough flexibility to accommodate new fields and values. There are two types of taxonomies: external (standard and commercial) taxonomies and internal (custom) taxonomies.

External Taxonomies

There are several sources of external taxonomies, which can be divided into two categories: governmental- or association-developed, and commercially-developed taxonomies.

Governmental- and Association-Developed Taxonomies

Governmental- and association-developed taxonomies are classification schemes that were developed for the benefit of the general public or a specific industry. They are generally intended to support the analysis of business activity within an industry and other commercial functions, including as marketing, and are generally available to users at a low or no cost. Examples of such taxonomies include the following:

  • Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes were established by government agencies in 1937 to classify industries.
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes were created in 1997 to replace the SIC system of classifying industries. This taxonomy is regularly updated by the United States Government.
  • Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) is a non-profit organization created by a group of representatives of law firms, consumers of legal services, and legal industry service providers to develop and promote a standard set of taxonomical codes for all categories of information of interest to law firms and their clients.
  • Noslegal is a voluntary, not-for-profit organization focused on developing a simple usable way to classify legal work.

Commercial Taxonomies

Commercial taxonomies are classification schemes that were developed for use by a specific business. Often proprietary, these taxonomies may be considered by their owners to be trade secrets. Commercial taxonomies vary in cost; certain owners may allow free use of certain portions or all of their scheme, while others may prohibit any use. Many research platforms and similar products have developed such taxonomies, including LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, and Deal Point Data, among others.

Internal Taxonomies

Most legal organizations maintain their own custom-developed taxonomies. Often such organizational schemes are developed for narrow business purposes without reference to any external taxonomy; however, best practice is to develop custom schemes based on one or more external taxonomies. When commencing an experience management project, all such internal taxonomies should be reviewed to see how an organization has historically organized the work that it does and the clients it represents. When reviewing an existing internal structure, it is best practice to seek a path to harmonize such structure with external taxonomies. The more custom taxonomies are aligned with external taxonomies, the easier it will be to automate data mapping. However, care should be taken to ensure that any newly harmonized structure remains in alignment with an organization’s culture and definitions.


Previously: Part One – Building the EM Business Case | Part Two – Business Uses of a Modern Experience Management Platform

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