Leveraging Technology to Enhance Your KM Capabilities

Discussion Outline for a Co-Presentation by
Philip Crowley, Assistant General Counsel, Johnson & Johnson
Ron Friedmann, Prism Legal Consulting, Inc.
Marcus Evans LawTech Forum
November 3-4, 2005 (New York, NY)

  1. DEMAND for KM. Many law firms talk about KM and are doing at least some, even if they are not calling it that. But large firm KM professionals frequently cite the billable hour as a big barrier. Law departments, in contrast, have incentives to reduce costs and be more efficient.
    • Is there demand for KM in law departments?
    • Who is driving that demand?
    • What’s realistic to accomplish?
    • If you do KM, do you have to prove the return and, if so, how do you that?
  2. KM and PROCESS. Knowledge managers in law firms have talked about “baking KM into existing business processes,” from hiring to time keeping. Personally, I think many firms will end up investing more time and effort at matter in-take. It’s there that you can capture information that’s valuable for both marketing and KM in knowing what a matter is about. In fact, several law firms have developed taxonomies to classify matters by industry, practice and substantive area of law.
    • What are the potential places in existing law department workflows where you could capture useful KM information?
      • How much extra effort would this take?
      • Are you doing this now or do you have plans to do so?
    • Have law departments developed taxonomies? Are they being used?
    • Do you have to worry about protecting proprietary information when doing KM?
  3. STAFFING and ORGANIZATION. Many British large firms have specialized practice support lawyers who focus on knowledge management. PSLs are much less common among US large firms. I’ve heard many in-house lawyers say that they just don’t have time for KM.
    • Do law departments have any lawyers or staff who have time to “do KM?”
    • Do your lawyers spend any time on explicit KM activities such as submitting documents to precedent systems or writing best practice guidelines?
    • Do you have to overcome reluctance of individual lawyers to share?
    • In my experience, even the easiest systems — close to Google simplicity — require, at minimum, a lot of awareness building. Who takes care of the training and the change management?
    • For those law departments fortunate enough to have lawyers or staff who do focus on KM, how are they organized? That is, what are the reporting structures (and titles)?
  4. TECHNOLOGY BASICS. In the last few years, vendors have started selling specialized KM software. But before we get to specialized applications, let’s look at some basics like tech support generally and document management and matter management systems.
    • Do you find that law departments get enough IT support to identify, evaluate, buy, and install new systems?
    • Do most law departments have centralized document management systems from vendors such as Hummingbird or Interwoven?
      • If so, is use mandatory?
      • Large firm lawyers typically won’t even enter accurate document type in the profile screen of document management systems. Do in-house lawyers do any better?
      • The DM vendors are promoting the idea of Matter Centricity.
        1. Does that concept work in a law department?
        2. How many law departments are doing it?
        3. Does it help with KM?
    • Many law departments have matter management systems. My sense is that these are used for docketing and basics; can these morph into KM systems?
    • A few firms have serious customer relationship management systems and are thinking tying to tie CRM and KM together in related processes?i. Do corporate law departments have CRM systems?

      ii. If so, could you use for KM? For example, if you had a CRM system for you internal clients, you might link each document you create or e-mail you send to that person’s record. When he or she called, the system could automatically display a screen with prior work product or interactions.

  5. SPECIALIZED KM APPLICATIONS. I mentioned that US firms don’t have many PSLs. Instead, they are focusing on automated approaches to KM.
    • Many firms are evaluating products such as West km or RealPractice for automated work product retrieval. Do these products or similar ones have any traction in law departments?
    • Other firms are evaluating “enterprise search” tools such as Recommind, Autonomy, or Verity. Do these products or similar ones have any traction in law departments?
    • Are there specialized KM tools specific to law departments that are worth considering?
    • Some of the compliance training vendors have developed sophisticated enterprise systems — are they potential KM partners/suppliers?
    • Given that lawyers are increasingly mobile, do you have to make special provisions with these systems to deliver know-how to occasionally or wirelessly connected lawyers?
  6. OUTSIDE COUNSEL and KM. Many law firms now provide extranets for clients. By and large though, these seem focused on sharing work in process. I hear that some clients are demanding KM systems from their outside counsel.
    • What do you expect in the KM arena from your major law firms?i. Deliver systems for you?

      ii. Manage work they’ve done for you?

      iii. Provide best practice documents?

      iv. Other?

    • How carefully do you evaluate the internal KM systems of your outside counsel?
    • With various technologies — from RSS to Service Oriented Architecture — the world may move from one of discrete applications to one of loosely interacting applications and data flowing freely (but securely) across systems. Do you have a vision of how KM initiatives with outside counsel might look in the future?