Crowd Sourcing Comments for My KM Book – Who Leads KM in Law Firms?

I’m excited to report that I am writing a book about KM in the legal profession and it is scheduled for publication by the ABA in 2014.  If you know me, then you know that I am a big fan of collaboration.  I’m also always trying to think of ways to do things differently, better, and more effectively.  I think I have come up with a way to make this a better book — one that will really resonate with KM professionals, law firm leaders, and those who want to learn about KM, and/or who are thinking of getting involved in KM in their law firm or legal department.  That approach is to crowd source parts of the book from the KM community.  See more below the chart…

Who leads KM in law firms

I’m starting this experiment by seeking comments on the question,”Who leads KM in law firms and legal departments?”  Thanks to ILTA and the KM Surveys that the ILTA KM Peer Group has published over the years, we have a good idea who leads KM.  For the three years (2008, 2010, and 2012) during which the ILTA KM PG has done the surveys, they asked “What is the background of the primary person managing KM efforts/projects on a day-to-day basis?”  I have looked at the results over the three surveys, plotted them on the above chart, and noticed some key data points and trends.

First, the vast majority of people leading KM efforts in law firms and legal departments are: lawyers (both practicing and non-practicing), librarians, and IT specialists.  Over the years, these have made up between 81% – 93% of the KM leaders.

Second, there seems to be some trends surfacing.

  • Lawyers (practicing and non-practicing) have always been the largest group of KM leaders – from 40% – 51% of the time.
  • Recently there seems to be a trend toward non-practicing lawyers leading the way and practicing lawyers stepping out of the KM picture.  Notice the decrease for practicing lawyers from 14% to 12% to 8%, while there is an increase in non-practicing lawyers (from 26% to 31% to 43%).
  • IT specialists leading KM seems to be slowly decreasing.
  • Librarians leading the way saw a lull in from 2008 to 2010, but ticked up in 2012.

So, my first questions to the crowd are (please address any or all of them, as you wish):

  • What do you make of this data? 
  • Why is there a change in who is leading KM at law firms?
  • What is your experience at your firm or legal department?
  • Does this data support the claim that some have been making that “KM is dead” or does it indicate a revitalization of KM, or something else?
  • What else does this data say about the state of KM leadership or KM (in general) at law firms and in legal departments?
  • Do you have any other thoughts about this?

Please either leave a comment to this post, or email me directly (patrickdidomenico at gmail dot com) with your thoughts.  My intention is to include your comments in my book (although I cannot guarantee inclusion, as I do have an editor).  You can submit your comments anonymously, if you like.  But I would like to give credit where credit is due.  If you submit a comment and I use it in the book, I will cite you appropriately (unless you don’t want me to).

I’m really excited about this, and I hope it works.  I know many of the people who read this blog have a lot of good ideas about KM.  I would love to share these ideas with others.  Thanks in advance for taking part in my little experiment.  And be on the lookout for other crowd sourcing posts that will give you opportunities to contribute to the book!

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3 thoughts on “Crowd Sourcing Comments for My KM Book – Who Leads KM in Law Firms?

  • December 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm
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    Question: Does this data support the claim that some have been making that “KM is dead” or does it indicate a revitalization of KM, or something else?
    Response: I believe KM is alive and well but it has gone through a mutation from managing content (as a primary function) to managing processes (as in legal project management). When a matter is treated as a project and well-managed, it meets the client’s desire for transparency and cost-prediction, improves firm efficiency by enabling workflow and cost analysis as well as defining profitability through pricing strategies.

  • December 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm
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    Patrick, first of all, congratulations on your forthcoming book with the ABA. It will be a much needed contribution to the profession. I’m somewhat new to the “Knowledge Management” discipline within the law, but have become a serious student of it in the last year. My interest stems, in part, from my own obsession with the sister emerging discipline of “Legal Project Management,” in which I am becoming something of an emerging thought leader in my own right and in which I’m obtaining a Master’s Degree at NAU. What is interesting to me (and what first introduced me to “Legal Knowledge Management”) is how KM is so integrated into project management (“PM”). Although the terms, taxonomies and phrases within the two disciplines are different, but they both express the same, important thought.

    Within PM KM is referred to as”Organizational Process Assets,” which the Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide (the “PMBOK Guide”) defines as: “Organizational Process Assets. Plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases that are specific to and used by the performing organization.” (See Project Management Institute (2013-01-01). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)–Fifth Edition (Kindle Locations 10065-10066). Project Management Institute. Kindle Edition.”) Is this not “KM” by another name? What’s interesting is the institutionalization of KM within PM as a formal part of the PM lifecycle (which is what introduced me to the notion of KM in the first place). Since “Legal Project Management” is the fastest growing inter-disciplinary practice area in law right now, and “Legal KM” is a key component of it, Legal KM is surely ‘alive and well’ and (to paraphrase Mark Twain) “Rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated.”
    I think if KM is to gain traction in the legal profession it will have to come from senior attorneys. In my view, they have the maturity of experience to grasp and appreciate what statistical data has already borne out – namely, that 80% of all problems in and complaints about an organization arise from PROCESS ERRORS, not errors of judgment. The other reason for this trend of ‘older, non-practicing lawyers’ leading the way is, I suspect, the realization that their hard-acquired knowledge will die with them if not meaningfully preserved. Young people live in the present, but old people often live in the past as they have more memories to relish than do their younger colleagues. Perhaps it is the realization of their own mortality that is now prompting the ‘Baby Boomer’ leaders of law firms to think about such matters.
    Anyway, I hope my humble perspective is helpful to you. I’m an active ILTA member and would love to have coffee with you at the next National Conference. Best personal regards…

  • Pingback: Knowledge Management is Disappointing and Has Failed – Crowd Sourcing Comments for My KM Book | LawyerKM

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