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Legaltech and Legal Innovation Basic Glossary

Algorithm. Process or series of rules followed by a computer to solve a problem. It is used in the field of artificial intelligence.

Arbitration. Alternative dispute resolution method (ADR) where a conflict is resolved by one or more people (arbitrator or arbitral tribunal) through the issuance of an arbitration award. The award is legally binding on the parties and valid before the state courts.

Artificial Intelligence. Branch of computing that develops systems to perform typically human tasks such as voice recognition, language comprehension, problem solving and decision making.

Bitcoin. The first cryptocurrency based on blockchain technology. Its central ideas were expressed in the paper Bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic cash system published by Satoshi Nakamoto on October 31, 2008. The network went live on January 3, 2009.

Blockchain. Shared registry between multiple computers where transactions are recorded in blocks linked with a cryptographic chain.

Brainstorming. Group creativity technique based on the contribution of spontaneous ideas by the participants. It is usually part of design thinking sessions.

Centralized Registry. Registry maintained by a central agent.

Chatbot. Software application that maintains a conversation with a user with the goal of addressing some complaint or query.

Cryptocurrency. Digital asset built with cryptographic technology.

Cryptography. From the Greek kryptós (secret) and graphein (writing), it is a discipline that deals with the construction of protocols to guarantee the confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of data.

Data Science. Discipline that consists of extracting knowledge from large data sets.

Decentralized Justice. New online dispute resolution methodology based on blockchain, crowdsourcing and game theory.

Deep Learning. Neural network-based machine learning technique that mimics the way in which humans learn new skills. It is the technique on which the development of Alpha Go was based, the Google AI software that defeated Go world champion, Lee Sedol, in March 2016.

Design Thinking. Product development method widely used in technology companies. Its goal is to create user-friendly products, following a structured method of observation, idea development and experimentation.

Digital Literacy. An individual’s ability to learn and use digital technologies.

Digital Signature. Digital code generated by public encryption that is attached to an electronically transmitted document to verify its content and the identity of the sender.

Emotional Intelligence. Ability to control emotions and manage interpersonal relationships with good judgment and empathy. The ability to support the client in a conflict and high stress situation will be an increasing added value in a lawyer’s proposal.

Ethereum. It is a blockchain like that of bitcoin. A set of anonymous computers that maintains a shared record. Ethereum has a currency called Ether, which can be stored in a wallet, and bought and sold, like bitcoin. The main difference is that Ethereum has a more sophisticated programming language, specially designed to write and run smart contracts.

Expert Systems. Type of artificial intelligence where a programmer establishes the steps that a program must follow to solve a problem.

Game Theory. Discipline based on economics and mathematics that studies the way in which agents make strategic decisions under different information situations and incentive schemes. It is a central part of the new field of decentralized justice.

General Counsel. Director of the legal area of a company. Traditionally, its function was limited to advise on legal risks. In recent years, it has shifted towards more general advice related to business strategy.

International Arbitration. Dispute resolution process between companies or individuals from different national jurisdictions. It is regulated by the norms of the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards under the framework of the New York Convention (1958).

I-Shaped Lawyer. According to Amani Smathers, the I-shaped lawyer is the traditional lawyer, whose training is based on a deep knowledge of the law.

Justice Gap. Number of people who, seeking to solve a justiciable problem, cannot find access to a system that imparts justice. The gap involves a wide variety of situations such as conflicts with neighbors, problems with the police, difficulties in receiving a benefit from the government, problems with custody of a minor or labor problems such as an unfair layoff.

Legaltech. The use of methods and technologies from engineering and management to innovate in the legal profession.

Legal Analytics. Use of data science to conduct legal processes such as the prediction of trial results or the strategy of the other party.

Legal Contract. Agreement written in natural language. Since natural language is ambiguous, it can be arbitrarily interpreted. Execution, moreover, depends on the judicial system, which is usually slow and manipulable. For all this, the parties are never certain of the execution of the agreement.

Legal Design. The use of design thinking tools to develop user-friendly legal products.

Legal Operations (Legal Ops). It is the management of the legal area of a company with business efficiency criteria.

Leibniz’s Dream. 17th-century philosopher Gottfried Leibniz’s idea of turning law into a purely computational discipline. The ultimate goal was that the cases would be solved through mathematical calculations.

Machine Learning. Artificial intelligence method where a computer learns autonomously.

Miners. Computers in charge of validating transactions on a blockchain. Miners group individual transactions into blocks and broadcast them to the rest of the network so that they become part of the shared registry. For their contribution, they receive transaction fees and payments in cryptocurrency.

Node. Computer that is part of a blockchain network.

Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). Branch of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that uses technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties. It involves negotiation, mediation or arbitration, or a combination of all three.

Public Address: Set of alphanumeric characters that is used to send and receive funds in transactions in a cryptocurrency network.

Ransomware. Virtual hijacking of a computer.

Shared / Distributed Registry. Registry where the data is stored in a network of decentralized nodes.

Smart Contract. Agreement written in code in a decentralized network, which is executed after the occurrence of a certain event. Since the computer code is clear and objective, parties can have almost complete certainty that the agreement will be fulfilled as agreed.

T-Shaped Lawyer. According to Amani Smathers, the T-shaped lawyer combines the in-depth training in law of the traditional lawyer with a set of non-traditional skills (technology, business, etc.).

Tokenization. The process of representing an asset in the form of a special cryptocurrency called a token.

Virtual Court. Court of justice where the procedure takes place entirely online.

Wallet. Software for making transactions on the blockchain, such as sending / receiving payments and checking the account balance.

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