This is a live post from Ark Group’s 11th Annual Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession in NYC. I publish live posts as a session ends, so please forgive any typos or failure to capture meaning accurately.

Session Title: KM & Marketing: True Partnership or Marriage of Convenience?

Scott Rechtschaffen, Chief Knowledge Officer, Littler Mendelson P.C.;
Laura G. Murray, Esq., Chief Marketing Officer, Bilzin Sumberg;
Brad Newman, Practice Innovation Manager, Cooley LLP

Session DescriptionLaw firm marketing departments regularly collaborate with lawyers to produce events, publications, pitch materials and more. The attorneys add context to the core functions of Marketing. Interestingly, that sounds a lot like KM’s goal of transforming information into knowledge by adding context. Is it possible that Marketing and KM have more in common than other administrative departments, and that intra-departmental collaboration can create an exponential value boost in a law firm? Our panel of Marketing and KM professionals will discuss collaborative successes as well as failures and the consequences of silo’d departments. How can KM and Marketing make CRM a success? How can business and client intelligence fuel both disciplines? Can KM and Marketing succeed at creating new product offerings? Is the elusive after-action review attainable through collaboration?

Joshua Fireman, conference co-chair, does intro, pointing out that KM and Marketing departments have sometimes viewed as being in conflict, that KM folks wonder why Marketing gets all the budget. So this panel is designed, in part, to address this concern and illustrate how the two can work together.

Joshua asks panel for examples of “real life” collaboration between KM and Marketing...

Scott: I have always aligned more with Marketing than IT. This is different than many KM professionals. Even before I was doing KM, I worked closely with Marketing. Now, KM is joined at hip with Marketing, especially on content production and distribution (in print, digitally, and at conferences).

Laura: I don’t know a world without collaboration between KM and marketing. I work more closely with KM than any other staff group. Most of what we do in Marketing involves data. KM provides a lot of the data.

Brad: Cooley does a lot deals and financing. KM generates a lot of post-deal metadata, which Marketing uses. Marketing guides what data are important and how best to slice and dice the data.

Joshua asks panelists about potential tensions between Marketing and KM…

Scott: Marketing wants to control the message, meaning lawyers should not talk to public. Cites brining in Kevin O’Keefe re blogs. But Marketing did not want lawyers to blog – they might say something we don’t want. But KM won that battle. Scott pointed out that marketing does not screen speeches or court filings – why worry about blog posts.

Laura: “I still believe Marketing should screen everything before it goes live.” I disagree with Scott. Screen for consistency, positional conflicts. The biggest barrier to success is working in silos.

Brad: One barrier / tension is awareness. Marketing does not always know what KM can do (KM is relatively new at Cooley). Biz Dev, as a subset of marketing, is not aware. It’s helpful for KM professionals to educate them. Separately, it takes some active sharing to have insight into each other’s projects and initiatives. This requires a culture of collaboration

Joshua asks, to the degree you have had CRM success, why did it succeed and does it tell us about collaboration

Brad: Cooley uses, which has a steep learning curve. KM has developed processes for more effective input and output to SFdC.

Scott: You have to define what you mean by CRM. If you mean a gigantic mailing list, that usually works pretty well. But lawyers have no clue about effective CRM and what it can do for them. In our anciallary businesses, I’ve seen how sales people really benefits from good CRM.

Laura: Part of CRM success is pushing the value to attorneys. When I started at firm, Marketing owns CRM but today KM owns it. Marketing is more on art than science side. Better to have KM manage data integrity with data quality standards, it is much easier to keep our CRM data clean and usable. We have so much data doing into CRM (eg, client clicking on an alert), it’s good to have highly systematized approach to CRM. The CRM system alerts partners about client and BD activities. When lawyers see this value, they are more willing to input information such as whom they had lunch with it. So CRM can succeed and it takes collaboration.

[Audience member from White & Case advises that all systems be “firm systems” rather than owned by one department. That leads to better success and more collaboration.]

Joshua asks what is the starting point on a project to encourage collaboration from the outset…

Brad: Two ways: first is grass roots, with members of KM team work with members of Marketing or BD, informally. Do a lot of listening. Second, at the C- and Director-level, management must create the culture of collaboration and reduce fear about stepping on toes.

Laura: Most important is to bring in all department heads to discuss the project goals and to get everyone’s input at the outset and white board the integration. Then constantly go back to goals, especially on larger and more complex projects.

Scott: We find, as initial step, it’s best to team up one person from Marketing and one from KM. This fosters relationship for that project and generally between the two departments.