Morrison & Foerster is one of the leading US law firms for creating and developing an innovative and highly effective approach to knowledge management. 

Last month, Law Technology News published IT @ Morrison & Foerster: Lessons Learned from Retail (free registration required or PDF version at MoFo web site). I co-wrote this and an earlier version with Oz Benamram, MoFo’s Practice Resources Attorney. For those who missed the LTN piece or who would like more details, the unabridged version is now available on this web site, here.

MoFo has ambitiously tackled two related problems simultaneously: enterprise search (using Recommind) and work product retrieval. Working with Oz, I learned a lot about enterprise search. At about the time I began writing with Oz, I started a partnership with Practice Technologies, developers of RealPractice, which is a work product retrieval solution. Seeing both search and work product retrieval up close has been illuminating.

Though differences abound, one common element in MoFo’s implementation is automatically profiling documents. As the article explains, relying on lawyers to profile documents does not work, so you have to look to software to do so automatically. For CIOs evaluating the two approaches, the important lessons are to define the requirements carefully, weigh the costs (out-of-pocket and soft), and make sure your choice addresses the most pressing needs.