What is the future of client-facing legal knowledge management? That is the topic of this Ark KM 10th Annual Conference. The session description and speaker information is appended below. (Live post: please forgive typos and errors.)
- Meredith L. Williams, JD, Chief Knowledge Management Officer, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
- Richard Westle, Interim Director of Knowledge Management, Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
When Meredith started in KM a decade ago, the focus was internal. There are still tremendous internal KM needs. But in a strategic planning session 5 years ago, the firm wanted an initiative to create client-facing, online KM services. That was one of six key initiatives.
In the first three years (starting 5 years ago), the firm started development of online services, learned some sweet spots, and “failed… a lot”. It was critical to learn to fail quickly. In years 4 and 5, the firm focused its effort, developed processes, and created a subsidiary to pursue.
Creating a subsidiary was necessary because the economics of selling KM to clients is very different from the law firm’s legal advisory business.
The firm has a six levels of client facing KM. From bottom to top, client / matter dashboards, advanced extranets, software toolkits, and licensed technology platforms. Six tools kits are for sale, 3 of which are purchased a lot. This is a tool sale, not sale of legal advice. Separate, and more sophisticated or customized, are tools and services located at mitigatedrisk.com and subject matter blogs.
Firm has online magazines to explain and promote their online services. Includes information relating to licensing and IP issues for the online legal services.
How does firm support this? KM Department has a budget to pay lawyers for their services. It is 100% working attorney credit (if pure KM). It is 75% if for a product – but then they get a share of the revenues from the online services. Revenues from sales go first to pay back development costs and then lawyers who contributed get equivalent dollar amount of billable hour credit. It took two years to create this program.
Predictions on the Near Future of Client-Facing KM
Framework that firm uses to think about future client-facing KM and online services. This matrix focuses thinking on what the goals are. (Meredith credits Fireman & Company for help developing the framework.)
The Business of Knowledge Management: KM’s Evolving Outward, Client-Facing Role and the Commercialization of Knowledge-Sharing Tools
KM is evolving from an inward-facing support function for practicing attorneys to an outward, client facing initiative that drives engagement (and ultimately revenue), extending the same invaluable service it has been providing to firm attorneys, directly to firm clients. In this illuminating discussion, our esteemed panel will discuss the ‘role of Knowledge’ in client development, as well as the commercialization of knowledge-sharing tools (capable of applying the firm’s knowledge base—both legal and financial—for the health and benefit of the client), and how these client-facing capabilities potentially:
- bridge the gap between Marketing and Sales by translating KM “know-how” into products or services that can be commercialized for client development
- broaden Practice Support & Knowledge Management initiatives to en-compass client service, competitive intelligence and business development
- refine the “knowledge advantage” in ways that differentiate the firm from the competition
- changing the dynamic of the firm/client relationship