Ark Group hosts its third annual legal KM conference on Oct 24-25, 2007 in Chicago. 

Joshua Fireman of ii3 and I will once again co-chair the conference (click here for preliminary details). For a flavor, here is the cover letter that Joshua and I wrote that Ark will include in the program:

Over the last decade KM has emerged as its own discipline in law firms. It now encompasses formerly distinct and narrower undertakings such as work product retrieval or “forms and precedents libraries.” KM has expanded but it has also experienced its share of bumps along the way. Some firms never liked the idea of KM. Some like it but hate to call it KM. While others that embraced it have lost some steam. But many firms are still going strong. On balance, the signs suggest that KM is alive and well – but still evolving.

So what is KM becoming? Some have given up on engaging lawyers and view it increasingly as a technology project or problem. Some continue to place great value on the refined knowledge of practice support lawyers. Some are coupling KM more tightly to marketing and finance. Still others have dropped formal names in favor of just doing whatever it takes to support law practice and law business with high value information and know-how.

Has KM lost its way? Is it really about technology? It appears that in many instances KM has taken the simple route of technology and is at risk of disappearing as a well-defined law firm function. For years KM professionals have touted that KM is “only about 20% technology.” But some of the US KM leaders are clearly investing heavily in technology, minimizing extra work for lawyers or staff. Will law firm CIO’s soon be commandeering KM projects as their own? Which raises a more general question of what’s the best way to evaluate this technology?

At this year’s KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN THE MODERN LAW FIRM conference, attendees will examine and discuss how KM is shifting in emphasis from supporting pure legal knowledge to supporting knowledge that relates to the business. We hope you’ll join us as we take a closer look at the high aspirations, false-starts, cultural limitations, resource limitations, and technology challenges faced by today’s legal KM community.

I’d love to hear with comments on these themes from anyone attending the ILTA 2007 KM track next Monday in Orlando.