Micro-blogging in your Law Firm? | Knowledge Management

Will law firms will use Twitter? So far, not many are. The main reason that most firms will not likely use it as a way to communicate among their attorneys is that it is a public platform. Twitter can be set so that messages are private and viewable only to trusted users, but I can’t imagine that any law firm will be willing to post messages (other than for marketing purposes, e.g., law firm web sites and substantive blogs) on the web.

But will law firms use an internal Twitter-like micro-blogging application that is not open to the public? Socialcast announced Socialcast 3.0, which gives them the opportunity to do so.

Socialcast operates as a Twitter for the enterprise, enabling SMBs to capture the tacit knowledge of workers and leverage mindshare to bridge the gap between generations of co-workers, said Tim Young, CEO of Socialcast. See the press release. You can try an online demo of Socialcast here.

I have my doubts that law firms will adopt this type of application anytime soon. From a KM perspective, I am not sure that 140 characters (the Twitter / micro-blogging limit) is enough to make a meaningful contribution to the enterprise knowledge base. Don’t get me wrong, I like Twitter. I think that it has potential as a knowledge base and expertise resource. And yes, micro-blogging would, in theory, enable people to capture tacit knowledge. However, I question how much value lawyers can derive from such snippets – unless those snippets are “attached to” other pieces of intellectual capital, like models, samples, forms, and other lawyer work product. In this way, micro-blog posts could become what I like to call “little KM.”

Little KM. More on this later, but in a nutshell, “little KM” is about “how” and “big KM” is about “what.” Little KM helps people find the big KM. Little KM consists of tags, comments, “diggs” or votes. Little KM points lawyers to the substantive stuff (the big KM) that they need: the model agreements, the sample pleadings, etc. Tags, comments, votes, and the like can help lawyers decide which of the firm’s documents (the big KM) to use for the task at hand.

With some adjustments, perhaps, a micro-blog post (or “tweet” if you’re using Twitter) can be a kind of little KM. A lawyer could post: “Here’s a great seller-friendly purchase agreement <insert link to the agreement>.” If your enterprise search engine indexes the micro-blog, then others may be able to find that agreement (via the micro-blog) when they search for seller-friendly purchase agreements. To me, that seems a bit clunky. Why not just encourage lawyers to add their little KM right within their existing work flow? Give them the tools to add tags, comments, and votes (little KM) right to the document; for example, in the document management system, in Microsoft Word, or in SharePoint after they locate a valuable document.

Twitter is cool. But is it right for the enterprise? Time will tell. There are many who, at first, said “why in the world would I want to use that?” Some of them are now the biggest users (and promoters) of Twitter.

So, do you expect to see a micro-blog in your firm? Discuss…

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

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