Harriet Creamer, Outer Circle

Opinion: Knowledge management needs serious consideration

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  • I can't see how KM can justify itself with services such as LexisNexis improving all the time and offering information packages that replicate KM. I'm missing something in this article.

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  • "In future the successful firm will be the one that knows and understands its core client base and has identified the core services it wants to provide - and then does so efficiently and cost-effectively."

    You'll have to excuse my sarcasm when I suggest that, excepting for the extraordinary market conditions such as those prevalent today, most firms have tried to do exactly this in both the near past and the present with some degree of success. This is hardly rocket science and it largely disconnected with the prior thrust of the article. Most firms in my experience make a point of trying to understand their clients businesses to some degree (and note that there is a limit; you don't have to be a supermarket to help them lease the land for one). Furthermore, market pressures around pricing and delivery timescales ensure that firms look periodically at working practices to ensure both best practice and to take advantage of advances in other spheres such as technological ones.

    "The firm that succeeds in revitalising and ­refocusing its KM function will give itself a real edge."

    Here we part company totally. Any advantages gained would be short-lived, but the experimental nature of the task involved may well have negative repercussions that haven't even been considered. My advice is to stop trying to find a role for these expensive systems and non-coal-facing lawyers and return to a more basic way of establishing information: ask. If you want to know what your client thinks about something, ask them. Systems are not substitutes for client interaction and systems are not short-cuts to retaining relationships with clients that can take years to grow. What KM systems are, however, is symptomatic of the industry's relentless attempts to boil the useful-but-non-measurable down to the useless-but-measurable.

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  • Sorry- what started out as an interesting article just lost it as soon as you start to focus on KM Lawyers. Leave it to the KM specialists (mostly professionals too) to get on with supporting the way KM works in your business. The problem, not the solution, is always the lawyers but I doubt that anyone would expect a 'pioneer of the professional support role' to have woken up and recognised that.

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  • Knowledge management systems (people or software) are expensive, and at times are indeed not necessary. What is also true is that many lawyers constantly step outside of their field of expertise - they have no prior experience against which to frame their decisions. Appropriately collated information (easily accessible) at this point becomes invaluable and steps in to provide accumulated experience. Lexis Nexis, however, tells you little or nothing about commercial factors that influenced a decision. We can all point to exemplary examples of lawyers who have a wealth of knowledge and experience - this is bought with time (and time after all is money). Truly experienced lawyers should indeed be "at the coal face", but what of the less experienced lawyer on another deal? I think this article is driving at an interesting point - if you can find a way of cost efficiently using KM to give that guy a leg-up then you have indeed created a competitive advantage.

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  • I share the views of the post @12.41
    The holy grail is to obtain a system (be it human or otherwise) which enables fee earners to have access to, and make use of the collective experience of the firm.
    Lexis Nexis (very useful as it is) just does not achieve that objective, nor do I believe it will ever be a substitute.
    That being said, I have yet to see KM truly achving that objective nor have I met any one who has.
    However, unlike looking for unicorns, I do believe that at some time in the future, despite the nature and personality of many individuals who make up a large law firms, it will be possible to achieve a material part of the objective. When that is achieved, the statement "The firm that succeeds in revitalising and refocusing its KM function will give itself a real edge." will have validity.

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  • The type of system @1:38pm suggests as being that of Enterprise 2.0, knowledge leveraging, rather than knowledge management. Dion Hinchcliffe is a good source of info on this. This presentation pretty much explains it: http://www.slideshare.net/TSystemsMMS/enterprise-20-knowledge-management-the-wikipedia-myth-1135966?src=embed

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