The discipline of knowledge management (KM) continues to evolve along with our ability to record larger and more varied kinds of information than ever before. Since its inception in the 1990s, it has passed through several stages, quickly becoming a credible field, and now an integral part of major businesses worldwide. Now, many have started to argue that KM is undergoing resurgence, possibly even transforming into KM 3.0, thanks to developments in artificial intelligence (AI). And, while AI has been around for many years, it has become a buzzword in the industry as questions loom over what it could mean for the labor market of the future.
Adoption has been relatively slow in the legal profession, owing in part to its conservative nature, individual-focused training and no real incentive to overhaul the hourly billing model1. When in-house legal teams can exceed 1,000 people, sharing and reusing knowledge can easily become inefficient, with counsel often needlessly paying for the same research twice. Global intelligence software leader Comintelli estimates that $8.5 billion per year is lost between Fortune 500 companies alone on poor KM2, up from $31.5 billion in 20043, suggesting a recent rise in the number of firms embracing the concept.
Despite this, there are still challenges posed to the legal world, and sharing insight is more vital than ever, not only within companies but between them. Innovations in Legal KM explores the endeavors of various legal firms – the problems they have faced, and the solutions they have developed – to improve their KM processes, and, ultimately, their bottom line.
This book is divided into nine chapters, each one a case study focusing on a specific area of KM in practice. In Chapter 1, Hélène Russell, founder of TheKnowledgeBusiness, reminds us that KM projects aren’t always easy to measure. In her case study, she simplifies this task by highlighting how to understand your purpose in measuring, the audience for whom you are measuring, and the practicalities of measuring for an accurate result.
Oz Benamram reflects on how White & Case became a hostage in a vendor relationship and used innovation to find a solution in Chapter 2. With reference to the suppliers of legal information and change management, Benamram describes how White & Case has optimized its research tools to deliver value through increased efficiency and – interestingly – reduction of costs to clients.
In a similar vein, Jack Bostelman, president of KM/JD Consulting LLC, and Chris Boyd, senior director of professional services at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP, outline in Chapter 3 how implementing KM projects into a ﬁrm can increase proﬁtability and create more value from work undertaken. Using a base case model, they show how a ﬁrm’s ﬁnancial ﬁgures can be improved with three kinds of KM project, proving that a rethink of a lawyer’s day-to-day practice can have realistic ﬁnancial beneﬁts.
“How do you fix something that no one thinks is broken?” So asks Cynthia L. Brown, recognizing the endemic problem facing law firms. The solution to this problem need not come in the form of huge, firmwide changes. In Chapter 4, she introduces Littler Mendelson’s Knowledge Desk, a centralized system designed to consolidate attorneys’ questions, increase the efficiency of its internal KM and similar departments, free up time for higher-level projects, and – most importantly – better serve its attorneys.
In Chapter 5, Mark Gediman, of Best Best & Krieger LLP, explores how a law firm library can effectively utilize KM to help deal with partner requests. Using a real-world example of a request for a specialized repository of documents, Gediman runs through the key areas of information that KM has to offer, and how they can be leveraged to effectively respond to a partner’s request.
Andrea Miskolczi of Wolf Theiss tackles the problem of the industry itself: lawyers are taught not to like collaboration and silo themselves away. Using research from Dr. Heidi Gardner PhD, a Distinguished Fellow in the Center on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, Andrea Miskolczi looks at the barriers to and benefits of smart collaboration in Chapter 6, and what steps can be taken to break down those silos.
It is easy to forget that a firm’s size can have such a huge impact on its resources, and therefore its departments. Harriet Creamer talks about the way forward for smaller and medium-sized companies in Chapter 7, advocating a lawyer-led KM model, where resourcing is largely focused on lawyers, rather than dedicated KM resources.
In Chapter 8, Cyndi Murphy gives a detailed walkthrough of how Stewart McKelvey has begun to leverage its data. It has taken advantage of tools such as a reduced and more consistent taxonomy, a centralized user interface that’s easy to use and an added versatility to that system so that old data can be used in new ways. Now with SMartNet, the company’s centralized document management system, it can feedback in real time and continue to utilize matter-centric KM.
James Loft, CEO at Aigen, looks at value within organizations and how they approach problems and seize opportunities in complex working environments. The concept of ‘value’ is perhaps taken for granted nowadays; in Chapter 9, James draws a clear picture of what value is in relation to certain technologies, and how that can be used to make new knowledge from old, scale automated decision-making, increase specialization and support those working environments the best possible knowledge.
References: 1 Lamont, J., “AI takes hold in the legal profession”, January 2017. See: http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/Features/AI-takes-hold-in-the-... 2 Are you suffering from Infobesity? (2017, September 21). Retrieved from: https://comintelli.com/are-you-suffering-from-infobesity/ 3 Babcock, P., "Shedding Light on Knowledge Management", May 2004. See: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/0504covstory.aspxDownload chapters