How Integration Drives Knowledge Management

I attended LegalTech New York today and took some notes.   They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

The first session, How Integration Drives KM, was a good one.  It addressed:

  • Early approaches to KM
  • Individual, highly customized systems
  • Commercial applications
  • Benefits of powerful combined approach

Speakers:

Tom Baldwin, Chief Knowledge Officer, Reed Smith
Preston McKenzie, Vice President and General Manager, Business of Law – West, a Thomson Reuters Business

My notes of the presentation:

Opening Remarks by Oz Benamram, CKO at White & Case.

Preston McKenzie spoke first about the framework and context of KM, including client development and the fact that in this economy, we are expected to “to do more with less.”  So, the emphasis is on productivity.

Three Key Challenges of law firms today:

  1. Information complexity
  2. Organizational complexity
  3. Market complexity

Historically, vendors have offered point solutions.  They solve the problem, but they are not efficient, in fact, they’re  expensive.  And it increases complexity because there are several systems and tools to do different things.

Now, systems are much more open and able to be integrated – e.g., ContactNet integrated with Westlaw for contacts mashed up with the content of cases on a Westlaw search.  Features:

  • open architecture allows for the integration.
  • deployment and development consistency.
  • ability to provide hybrid applications.
  • lighter tech footprint is needed.
  • more intuitive.

West km is an example.  The feature of the application are now unbundled
(the ability to do something is what’s important – not the application or the product as it has historically been delivered by the major vendors).

They are getting back to the core value of the product – for West km it is the taxonomy.  The system becomes configurable by the law firm – to use in the way it wants.

This idea of integration is all about the ability to create mash-ups of information.  This has been happening on the web for quite a while now and it is becoming more common inside law firms.

Tom Baldwin spoke next.  He covered a few preliminary thoughts and then explained how they are integrating systems at Reed Smith.

What does “doing more with less” really mean?

ATV – Awareness-Training-Visibility

  • A – need to market the tools that we already have
  • T – make sure they know how to use them – in a cost effective manner.
  • V – a self preservation issue.

How are you providing value?  Demonstrating value and helping the cause.

Gaining and Maintaining Adoption:

  • KM systems are not considered essential (like email or the DMS) – try to change that.
  • Find your champions.  Not just that, but find those who will take credit  like it’s their idea (like Al Gore and the Internet).
  • Attorney testimonials are key – get lawyers to tell others – you must ask them to do it.  Even ghost write the testimonial for them – good for PR.
  • Make sure people understand what the system does and how to use it.  Go to the practice group  meetings, etc.

Measuring the Value of KM

  • Report on the numbers – # of extranets, blog his, search usage, business generation.
  • Lawyer and client testimonials.
  • Go for easy, cheap wins.

Reed Smith’s “ouRSpace” – this is the firm’s new portal.

Vendors and products:

  • XMLAW
  • Recommind
  • West km
  • Dot Net
  • Monochrome
  • Silverlight
  • AJAX

The wrapper for the portal is SharePoint, but looks nothing like SharePoint.

– The interface is clean and simple
– There is one icon-style navigation bar at the top
– items are targeted by subject, practice group, office, etc.

Live Demo

– navigation is one simple icon based navigation bar.
– time zones – interactive time zone pop-up app with an integrated meeting organizer.
– standard XMLAW SharePoint functions, but, again looks nothng like SharePoint.

West km inside of Recommind inside of SharePoint (also searches the whole DMS – InterWoven)
– West km docs are weighted higher
– incorporates all of the WKM
– prominent red search box – uses XMLAW-type search scopes.
– all SP content (intranet) is indexed y Recommind.

People search
– integrates all types of information about the lawyers.  Even billing rates and compensation are visible by everyone.

WSJ News Ticker – right below the the navigation bar
News and Information section
New Partners section introduces the firm to new partners.  They have started to add video with their video conferencing systems; not highest quality, but good, inexpensive and sufficient.  Other videos are organized by various categories.  This is done with SilverLight

Blogging within the Firm:
– firm heavily discourages email blasts to the whole firm (most people are not even able to send firm-wide emails – only Chiefs, and certain partners).
– All Chiefs, Managing Partners, etc. are a part of the Management corner, which includes blogs.
– blog feedback has been good.
– it was difficult to get people involved, and sometimes the KM staff ghost writes the blog posts.

Financial Information
– is distributed to users based on the users position.
– Rate look up is a very popular feature – it allows lawyers to look for associates based on location, billing rates, class year, etc.

This was a highly-customized system, was not cheap, and required a lot of custom work and a large staff.

This was a great presentation.  It’s always good to see what Tom is doing.  He is one of the more cutting edge KM people out there.

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

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2 thoughts on “How Integration Drives Knowledge Management

  • February 4, 2009 at 2:48 am
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    I really wonder about this approach. At the end of the day, equity partners sit down to look at their knowledge management efforts and just do not see a direct connection to higher profits. Providing a wide range of tools is a nice start, but if the idea is that there is nothing else needed and the firm’s lawyers will just make the magic happen, I think KM officers are going down the wrong path. It reminds of a manufacturer that gives its employees great knowledge management tools, but the employees all use them differently with varying degrees of success without fundamentally and consistently upgrading the processes that could produce a better product. Law firm KM is similar. There is rarely a rigorous focus on using KM insights to create consistent, improved processes for providing better and more profitable legal services.

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