ILTA White Papers

Knowledge Management

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our lawyers capture, share and reuse work product such as forms and checklists, precedents and brief banks, research memoranda files, and best practices, firm work product quality improves, turnaround time is reduced and billable hours and third-party online research costs are lowered. With such obvious benefits, improving access to legal work product is likely to remain our top priority. THE EXPANDING ROLE OF KM TEAMS Increasingly, the demand for KM services has expanded beyond legal practice support to include less traditional roles. Formally or informally, the scope of our services has expanded to include many other administrative functions within the firm. Gone are the days when it was a challenge to gain buy-in and cooperation for our plans and processes. Today, our attorneys and colleagues understand that we balance the strategic with the tactical, the technology with the culture, the innovation with the interruption and the people with the process. We have shown that KM professionals play an important role in looking for unobtrusive and cost-conscious ways to improve access to knowledge and streamline processes, as well as in helping to define the values that make it logical and palatable for our firms to accept and embrace change. Perhaps most important, our approach is not to take away “ownership” of information, but to surface that information in a way that enables others to share it. Knowledge management is about building bridges between people and creating links that connect the information silos they manage. management is about building bridges between people and creating links that connect the information silos they manage.” “Knowledge AN EYE ON BUSINESS The growth and evolution of KM toward supporting both the practice and business of law is thus a natural and inevitable development. While this added responsibility may create stress for already fully engaged KM teams, it makes sense that the knowledge and expertise of these teams should be leveraged to harness all the data and information in repositories across their firms. KM interaction with all administrative areas simply makes sound economic sense, since everyone shares the goal of increasing firm revenue and reducing costs. Law firm leaders are paying closer attention to the way they operate as business entities, and lawyers see how their expert and efficient administrative teams affect the bottom line, especially in a downturn. As Hildebrandt’s Jim Jones noted in his article “It’s Law Firm 101” (Legal Times, November 2007), “There is growing acceptance among law firm partners of the important roles [C-level] professionals can play in implementing firm strategies, expanding business, enhancing financial performance, Knowledge Management 21

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