Knowledge management in North America has long had a different flavor than KM in the United Kingdom. 

At the risk of oversimplifying, UK firms have focused on a relatively labor- and human-intensive KM, relying heavily on practice support lawyers (PSL). In contrast, the US firms have focused on relatively technology-intensive KM, relying far more on software than on humans.

The traditional role of the PSL, however, appears to be changing. One sign of the change is the upcoming September 20th conference in London, Capitalising on the client-focused professional support lawyer role by the Ark Group. I have co-chaired Ark KM conferences in the US, so know that Ark gives careful thought to constructing an agenda that reflects current issues.

I am intrigued to see that this conference “will review the drivers for the PSL role becoming increasingly client-focused and how professional support needs to be able to encompass elements of client service, marketing and business development in order to remain competitive with other firms.” Speakers are from leading firms, including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Allen & Overy LLP, DLA Piper UK LLP, Eversheds LLP, Herbert Smith LLP, Norton Rose, CMS Cameron McKenna LLP, Addleshaw Goddard LLP, Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.