We have a lot of two and three letter acronyms (TLAs) and four and five letter acronyms (FLAs) in our industry and it seems like there are some we all should know at this point. Here are TLA and FLA acronyms that I think we all need to know.

My English teacher taught me to spell out TLA and FLA acronyms the first time before using them as acronyms to ensure the audience understands the acronym reference. But I admit that I get lazy sometimes and dispense with the description if I think the audience should know what the acronym means. Do I really need to inform you that the acronym for artificial intelligence is “AI”? Probably not. But there are some acronyms that not everybody in our industry knows, but probably should know.

So, I decided to develop a short list of TLA and FLA acronyms that I think people in eDiscovery and legal technology should know. See if you agree with my list and let me know if you think any should be added or dropped.

Legal Acronyms

For lawyers and legal professionals, these TLA and FLA acronyms seem like no-brainers:

CLE (Continuing Legal Education)
ABA (American Bar Association)
FRCP (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure)
FRE (Federal Rules of Evidence)
I would perhaps add FRCMP (Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure), especially for those who handle a lot of criminal cases.

Technology Acronyms

If you’re involved with technology in any way, you should know at least these TLA and FLA acronyms:

API (Application Programming Interface)
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
SaaS (Software as a Service)
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
IP (Internet Protocol)
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)
IT (Information Technology)
Do I really need to explain that IT stands for Information Technology to anybody? I hope not. Of course, WiFi is the FLA for “Wireless Fidelity”, but nobody explains that anymore (because nobody really cares).

Data Size Acronyms

We should all know these TLA acronyms to represent data sizes:

KB (Kilobyte)
MB (Megabyte)
GB (Gigabyte)
TB (Terabyte)
At the rate we’re going, these will become more common as well: PB (Petabyte), EB (Exabyte), ZB (Zettabyte), YB (Yottabyte). It’s also important to remember that each level up is 1,024 of the previous level – not 1,000 – per the binary number system.

eDiscovery Oriented Acronyms

A short list of TLA acronyms that I think everyone should know:

ESI (Electronically Stored Information)
ECA (Early Case Assessment)
EDA (Early Data Assessment)
IG (Information Governance)
OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
Seems like there should be more here, but I’m not sure how far to take this list (plus some terms naturally fall into other lists). “ESI” is probably the term I most assume the audience knows, leading me to skip defining it, but non-eDiscovery people may not know it. And it’s important to be able to differentiate ECA and EDA!

Industry Organization Terms

If you’re in legal technology, eDiscovery or information governance, you should know these organizations:

EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model)
ACEDS (Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists)
WiE (Women in eDiscovery)*
ILTA (International Legal Technology Association)
ARMA (formerly the Association of Records Managers and Administrators, but now “ARMA International”)
Technically, EDRM the organization is just “EDRM”, but if you’re in eDiscovery, awareness of the EDRM model is a must.

AI Related Terms

Here are a few, including some that are eDiscovery specific:

AI (Artificial Intelligence)
ML (Machine Learning)
TAR (Technology Assisted Review)
CAL (Continuous Active Learning)
People know AI, but a lot less of them know ML. Many also tend to use TAR as synonymous with Predictive Coding (so we don’t tend to abbreviate that as “PC”), while others consider TAR a superset that includes predictive coding (are you reading this, Tom?).

Data Privacy Terms

Here are a few of the obvious TLA and FLA acronyms I’m dying to stop explaining:

PII (Personally Identifiable Information)
PHI (Protected Health Information)
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act)
DSAR (Data Subject Access Request)
If I added up the time that I’ve typed out the words for these TLA and FLA acronyms, I could probably take a nice vacation with it! 😉

Those are some TLA and FLA acronyms that I would love to stop explaining. I’m even think of creating a resource of common TLA and FLA acronyms in our industry and linking to it in posts so that people can look them up!

* – Hat tip to Cristin Traylor for catching my obvious oversight on WiE!

Published by Doug Austin
Doug is an established eDiscovery thought leader with over 30 years of experience providing eDiscovery best practices, legal technology consulting and technical project management services to numerous commercial and government clients. Doug has published a daily blog since 2010 and has written numerous articles and white papers. He has received the JD Supra Readers Choice Award as the Top eDiscovery Author for 2017 and 2018 and a JD Supra Readers Choice Award as a Top Cybersecurity Author for 2019. Doug has presented at numerous events and conferences, including Legaltech New York, ILTACON, Relativity Fest, University of Florida E-Discovery Conference, Masters Conference and many local and regional conferences. Doug has also presented numerous CLE-accredited webcasts.