Knowledge management may not be dead but it certainly has changed. 

Absent today are previously dominant “pure” or “traditional” legal KM topics such as precedents, forms, work product retrieval, experience location, taxonomies, and the role of practice support lawyers. Instead, knowledge managers now discuss alternative fee arrangements (AFA), matter budgets, legal project management (LPM), and social media.

Consider the agendas for two leading conference. ILTA 2010 sessions designated as knowledge management include many document management, social media, extranets, enterprise 2.0 sessions but just a handful explicitly KM. Likewise for the Legal Tech 2011 program: Leveraging Technology for Better Firm Efficiencies and Enterprise Search Technology: Changing the Game will likely touch on KM but the only explicit KM-titled session is “KM: Beyond Search”.

Or consider less public evidence. At a private legal KM event I attended this fall, the main topic was LPM. From personal conversations, I know that in addition to LPM, many large-firm KM professionals are also working on AFA.

Reasons traditional topics have faded from discussion could include that the problems they encompass have been solved, declared unsolvable, or proven not worth solving. Yet KM professionals remain as busy as ever. In a future post, I will offer another theory for the shift in focus.