Law Firms on Twitter – An Update

Back in August 2008 I wondered “Is the AmLaw 100 on Twitter?” The answer was a resounding “no.”  There were a couple of “exceptions.”  Skadden had an account, but it  seemed to be simply parked, with no updates.  It’s still there, still with no updates, but now has 25 followers (including LawyerKM).  It also appeared, back then, that Orrick had an account, but based on the updates, it was clearly “brand jacked” as Steve Matthews put it, in the comments on that post.  The Orrick Twitter account still appears to be controlled by someone other than the firm, but it now has 49 followers, and two new/different updates, which are less offensive than the previous updates.

That was almost six months ago.  This is now, and the new answer to that question “Is the AmLaw 100 on Twitter?” is: well, not really, but sort of.

Here’s what I found looking around Twitter:

  • Fulbright & Jaworski has apparently embraced Twitter.  It appears that the account was started in October 2008.  Since then the firm has acquired 106 followers and posted 53 updates.
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP has 73 followers, 25 updates and has been tweeting since December 2008. [updated 2/1/09]
  • McDermott Will & Emery started tweeting in December 2008.  84 followers and 40 updates.
  • Weil Gotshal & Manges also started tweeting in October 2008.  It has 65 followers and has posted 61 updates.
  • Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice gets the award for the best Twitter image (a bulldog) and slogan (“Innovators @ Law!”).  I also like their first update: “Launched the new Womble Carlyle Twitter page. Get current information on the legal issues facing your business. Friend us, we won’t bite.” With 92 followers and 86 updates, they have been tweeting since November 2008.

You’ll notice that the firms mostly post links back to their websites.  Not surprising – this is law firm marketing, after all.

There are several AmLaw 100 firms that have apparently claimed their accounts, but have done nothing with them.  This is a smart move if they are trying to avoid the fate of Orrick.  Here’s a list of firms and possibly their Twitter handles.  I say possibly because this is based on my research on Twitter – I have not contacted any firms to ask whether they have, in fact, claimed their Twitter accounts.  I didn’t include hyperlinks because, for the most part, there is nothing to see on the Twitter pages.  But the URLs, as listed, are valid.  If you see some that have one follower, it’s me.

  • Akin Gump –
  • AlstonBird –
  • Arnold & Porter –
  • Baker & Hostetler
  • Baker & McKenzie –
  • Baker Botts –
  • Bryan Cave –
  • Cleary Gottlieb –
  • Davis Polk –
  • Debevoise & Plimpton –
  • Dickstein Shapiro –
  • DLA Piper –
  • Fish & Richardson –
  • Foley & Lardner –
  • Gibson, Dunn –
  • Goodwin Procter –
  • Hogan & Hartson –
  • Holland & Knight –
  • Howrey –
  • Hunton & Williams –
  • Jones Day –
  • Latham & Watkins –
  • Dewey & LeBoeuf –
  • Mayer Brown –
  • Morgan Lewis & Bockius – (has four followers and is following four others)
  • O’Melveny & Myers –
  • Patton Boggs –
  • Paul Hastings –
  • Paul, Weiss – (I think that this may be a person named Paul Weiss – probably not the firm)
  • Proskauer Rose –
  • Reed Smith – (this is a “marketing guy” in Austin Texas – probably named… Reed Smith)
  • Ropes & Gray
  • Schulte Roth –
  • Seyfarth Shaw –
  • Sidley Austin –
  • Simpson Thacher –
  • Sonnenschein –
  • Squire Sanders –
  • Sutherland Asbill  –
  • Vinson & Elkins –
  • White & Case –
  • WilmerHale –
  • Wilson Sonsini –
  • Winston & Strawn –

I may have missed some.  If so, please let me know.

It’s not just the AmLaw 100 on Twitter.  Here’s a list of other firms that I’ve encountered from comments on Twitter:

  • Deacons (Australia) – 140 followers, 120 updates.
  • Staton Law Firm (Huntersville, NC) – 73 followers, 28 updates.
  • Clements Law Firm (Charlotte, NC) – 66 followers, 2 updates.
  • Christensen Law Firm (Draper, UT) – 4 followers, 1 update.
  • Hinshaw (USA) – 32 followers, 0 updates.
  • Gowlings (Canada) – 66 followers, 24 updates.
  • Patel & Warren (Houston, TX) – 47 followers, 12 updates.
  • Jackson Walker (Texas) – 79 followers, 18 updates (has 13 other associated Twitter accounts, and check out their website, which has a prominent “Follow Jackson Walker on Twitter” link).
  • Simmons Cooper (Illinios) – 80 followers, 130 updates.
  • ShannonGracey (Texas) – 173 followers, 31 updates.

And for those firms that have not *yet* jumped on the Twitter bandwagon, here’s the good news:  You’re still in the Twittersphere.  You may not be tweeting, but others are tweeting about you.  For example, the ABA Journal has a Twitter account, has posted more than 4,400 updates, and has almost 1,000 followers.  The AmLawDaily also posts updates about firms.  It has 188 followers and has made over 350 updates.

Others are Tweeting about law firms, as well.  There is a huge community of lawyers and others in the legal profession on Twitter.  They post updates about firms big and small.  Unfortunately, these days, a lot of what they’re are saying has to do with law firm layoffs.  There’s even a Law Firm Layoff Tracker on the Lawshucks website that’s, sadly, a hot topic on Twitter.

The question remains: should law firms be on Twitter?  Some say no, but that lawyers at firms should be.  Maybe these are the Twitter purists.  Perhaps they think that Twitter should be all about the conversation and not about simple broadcasting and posting links.  My personal opinion is that Twitter conversations are great, but law firms should be on Twitter.  It is a marketing opportunity, just like a law blog.  It’s an opportunity to get a firm’s content in front of more eyes and drive more traffic to its website.  If a firm’s lawyers also use Twitter, then all the better.  Those lawyers can have Twitter conversations and build relationships.  But the two needn’t be mutually exclusive.  Firms might not engage in Twitter conversations, but neither do the many of the mainstream media outlets, like Fox News, CNN Breaking News, and New York Times.  Twitter–in its short life–has grown into more than just a place to chat.  It is a place to post news and information that others will chat about.

Being a mere mortal, and there being only so many hours in the day, I’m sure that I missed some law firms on Twitter.  If you know of others, please let me know by leaving a comment.  Thanks.

Finally, if you’re going to LegalTech NY this coming week, you won’t want to miss “What is Twitter And How Can I Use It?” – a panel discussion moderated by Monica Bay with panelists Matthew Homann, Kevin O’Keefe, and Chris Winfield.   It’s Monday Feb. 2, 2009 at 3:00 PM.  I’ll be there.   And feel free to DM me and say hello – in person.

In the meanwhile, join the conversation about Twitter in the comments below.

  • Should law firms be on Twitter?  If so, how should they use it?

Update: Thanks to Bruce Carton for pointing out his great list of BigLaw Lawyers on Twitter.  He noted a few firms I missed (now updated above).

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


KM 101: Tacit and Explicit Knowledge

This is the second post in a new series about legal knowledge management, called KM 101.  If you haven’t already, you can read the first entry, called KM 101: Introduction to Legal Knowledge Management.

Today, the conversation is about tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.

At a very high level, it is generally agreed that tacit knowledge is that which has not been recorded, written, printed, or otherwise captured in some medium.  Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, is that which has been codified or captured in some medium.  Simply put, explicit knowledge has be written down or recorded.

Thus, tacit knowledge comprises personal experiences known only to an individual.  Unless converted into explicit knowledge, it cannot be shared because it is “trapped” in one’s mind.  For example, a trial lawyer may know how a particular judge tends to react to certain trial tactics because he has tried cases before that judge.  That knowledge is certainly useful to that trial lawyer, but is of no use to the other lawyers at his firm, unless the knowledge is shared among them.  From an organization’s (as opposed to a personal) KM perspective, tacit knowledge is useless because multiple members of the organization cannot benefit from it.

Conversely, some explicit knowledge can be useful to an organization because others can find it.  For example, the trial lawyer, mentioned above, could prepare notes and make a presentation to the other litigators in his firm about tips and tricks when trying cases.  The notes (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation) could be saved on a networked hard drive, document management system, or intranet page, so that others can find and use them.  Just as important, those notes, because they are accessible by others, can help fellow lawyers determine that the lawyer may be an expert in trial practice.

The tacit-explicit distinction may be interesting, but it is academic and does little for those who are trying to implement KM at a law firm.  For practical purposes, knowledge is either accessible or inaccessible.  Note that explicit knowledge, by definition, is not necessarily accessible.  That PowerPoint presentation, when saved on the author’s  local hard drive, is technically “explicit knowledge,” but is accessible only by the author.  It is not until the knowledge is made available to others that it becomes useful.

Doug Cornelius, of KM Space, has written about tacit and explicit knowledge, and he shares some of these views.  He says that the tacit-explicit distinction is abstract and, in reality, knowledge is “either findable by your computer or it is not findable by your computer.”  There are also some interesting comments on his blog post that are worth a look.

The take-away about tacit and explicit knowledge is to get people to understand that unless knowledge is shared and made accessible to others, it is useless from a KM perspective.  Converting tacit knowledge (or explicit knowledge) into accessible knowledge is truly one of the challenges of knowledge management.

Please join in the discussion. Leave a comment.

  • How do you define tacit and explicit knowledge?
  • Is the tacit-explicit distinction merely academic or is there a practical application?

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



An Even Better Must-Follow KM Tweeter List

David Gurteen, a definite KM must-follow tweeter, has come up with his own really nice list of must-follow tweeters.  Check out his KM Tweeters! blog post.  He merged, removed duplicates and sorted my list list of lists and turned them into links [very helpful! Why didn’t I think of that?!?] to the individual’s tweet page.  And he listed his Top Ten Tweeters, a few I hadn’t been following.  Also, he reminds us to use #KM when tweeting about knowledge management, a practice I find really helpful because it allows me to create an RSS feed of knowledge management tweets.

follow-me-on-twitterLawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

KM 101: Introduction to Legal Knowledge Management

Welcome to a new series of posts about legal knowledge management, called KM 101.  My goal is to provide a concise guide to KM topics — both in general and legal specific.  Just as important, I hope that this will be a conversation.  I welcome comments and encourage you to agree, disagree, and enhance the topics.  All comments (other than spam) will be allowed.

What is Knowledge Management?

Let’s get right to it.  KM is vast and far-reaching.  There is no agreed-upon definition of KM, but there are some good ones out there.  I prefer the plain-language definitions.  Jargon is the enemy.

Legal KM: In Knowledge Management and the Smarter Lawyer, Gretta Rusanow writes, “knowledge management is the leveraging of your firm’s collective wisdom by creating systems and processes to support and facilitate the identification, capture, dissemination and use of your firm’s knowledge to meet your business objectives.”  It’s a little jargony, but I still like it.

KM in general: A pretty straight-forward definition of KM comes from Melissie Clemmons Rumizen in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management.  Rumizen writes that KM “is the systematic process by which knowledge needed for an organization to succeed is created, captured, shared, and leveraged.” Good, too.

Leverage: The word “leverage” is commonly used when describing KM (see above).  I don’t like that word, but I guess it works.  So, allow me to “leverage” the work of someone who has put some effort into identifying definitions of  KM.  Ray Sims of Sims Learning Connections wrote a piece called “43 knowledge management definitions – and counting…“.  Here is a graphical representation, or word cloud, of the words used in Ray’s blog post.   And Ray has completed an analysis of the compiled knowledge management definitions.  It’s an interesting read.

It’s also interesting that people don’t even agree on the nature (i.e. “the what’) of KM.  They initially describe it as:

  • a process
  • an activity
  • an effort
  • a method
  • a system
  • a tool
  • a technology
  • a strategy
  • a framework
  • a system
  • a concept
  • a philosophy
  • an art
  • a discipline
  • a practice
  • a set of principles

Some people avoid the “what” question all together by saying what KM is “about.”  A common refrain is “KM is about getting the right information to the right people at the right time.”  Also, “KM is about not reinventing the wheel.”  KM is “about” many other things.  We could go on and on, but we won’t.

One of my favorite summaries is that KM addresses: who we know, what we know, and how we do what we do.  The “we,” of course, refers to the members of a law firm.  I like this approach because it is (a) results-oriented, and (b) open-ended.  It is not restricted to traditional KM ideas, like precedent repositories and contact lists.  Rather, it opens up the aim of KM to all sorts of ways to solve the problems and challenges that a law firm experiences.  Instead of asking “how do we re-use our work-product?”  we may ask, “how can we practice more efficiently and effectively?” or “how can we provide better service to our clients?” or “how can we reduce costs and make more money?”

The bottom line is that KM is all these things, and more.  The way KM is structured at different law firms varies greatly.  For some, KM is hierarchically within the information technology department, or combined with the library, or loosely scattered around the firm, with KM attorneys in each practice group.  For others, KM is an umbrella that covers areas like library services, professional development, practice support, etc.  Almost always, KM works closely with law firm leaders — both lawyers and non-lawyer administrators.

Please join in the discussion. Leave a comment.

  • How do you define knowledge management?
  • How is knowledge management structured at your law firm or organization?
  • What issues or ideas would you like to see addressed in future posts on KM 101?

Coming Soon in the KM 101 series:

KM 101: Tacit and Explicit Knowledge

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

Must-Follow Twitterers on Twitter | Knowledge Management

Over the past few weeks, I’ve asked people to send me their list of “must-follow” Twitterers (or Tweeters).   Yes, there are other ways to find people to follow.  There’s Mr. Tweet, which somehow magically finds and suggests influencers and followers in your network for you.  There are several lists of certain types of Twitterers.   Adrian Lurssen of JDSupra compiled a list of 145 Lawyers (and Legal Professionals) to Follow on Twitter. That list has ballooned from 145 to over 500. Adrian also posted a list of Legal News Feeds on Twitter, which is quite good.  

But I wanted to know the “must-follow” Twitterers – right from the source.  So I asked my Twitter friends.  Of course, the people who contributed to this collection are among my must-follow Twitterers, so be sure to check them out.

Here is the list of their lists (in the order in which they were received):

Steve Mathews recommended:

  • @jordan_law21
  • @Charonqc
  • @Geeklawyer
  • @conniecrosby
  • @ErikMazzone
  • @SCartierLiebel
  • @time2simplify
  • @jeiseman
  • @mikemac29
  • @JDTwitt
  • @kevinokeefe
  • @RobLaGatta
  • @GrantGriffiths
  • @denniskennedy
  • @infobunny
  • @carolynelefant

Victoria Prather recommended:

  • @mediabistro

Tony Hartsfield recommended:

  • @mikemac29
  • @jennsteele
  • @bburney
  • @beaum
  • @denniskennedy
  • @didomenico
  • @dougcornelius
  • @dwilkinsnh
  • @eschaeff
  • @gheidenreich
  • @jdtwitt
  • @jordan_law21
  • @kevinokeefe
  • @kmhobbie
  • @lawyerkm
  • @legalblogger
  • @matthomann
  • @mbeese
  • @tamischiller

Jennifer recommended:

  • @nikiblack
  • @carolynelefant
  • @stevewhitaker
  • @jimduncan

Mike McBride recommended:

  • @BrettTrout
  • @Denniskennedy
  • @stevematthews
  • @nikiblack
  • @tonyhartsfield
  • @jennsteele
  • @dougcornelius
  • @conniecrosby
  • @commonscold
  • @kevinokeefe
  • @carolynelefant
  • @complexd

Stan Garfield (who was kind enough to include the Tweeters’ names) recommended:

  • @gsiemens – George Siemens
  • @4KM – Alice MacGillivray
  • @mathemagenic – Lilia Efimova
  • @dweinberger – David Weinberger
  • @pekadad – Lee Romero
  • @valdiskrebs – Valdis Krebs
  • @rossdawson – Ross Dawson
  • @klowey22 – John Hovell
  • @dougcornelius – Doug Cornelius
  • @chieftech – James Dellow
  • @etiennewenger – Etienne Wenger
  • @smithjd – John D. Smith
  • @unorder – Shawn Callahan
  • @carlfrappaolo – Carl Frappaolo
  • @driessen – Samuel Driessen
  • @dineshtantri – Dinesh Tantri
  • @lawyerkm – Patrick DiDomenico
  • @borisj – Boris Jaeger
  • @nimmypal – Nirmala Palaniappan
  • @VMaryAbraham – Mary Abraham
  • @cdn – Christian De Neef
  • @kdelarue – Keith De La Rue
  • @rsims – Ray Sims
  • @jackvinson – Jack Vinson
  • @dankeldsen – Dan Keldsen
  • @amcafee – Andrew McAfee
  • @s2d_jamesr – James Robertson
  • @innotecture – Matt Moore
  • @trib – Stephen Collins
  • @snowded – Dave Snowden
  • @elsua – Luis Suarez
  • @DavePollard – Dave Pollard
  • @euan – Euan Semple
  • @johnt – John Tropea
  • @NancyWhite – Nancy White
  • @panklam – Patti Anklam
  • @WestPeter – Peter West
  • @AndrewGent – Andrew Gent
  • @jschunter – Johannes Schunter
  • @DavidGurteen – David Gurteen
  • @stangarfield – Stan Garfield

Updated List (commenter and email generated):

Great lists!  Thank you all for contributing.

If you would like to contribute to this list (I will update it), you can email your list to lawyerkm [@] with “twitter list” in the subject line, or leave your list in the comments field.

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

Twitter about Knowledge Management? Use #KM

Back in October I started using #KM when posting knowledge management related posts on Twitter and asked people to join in the fun. The idea of a hash tag is nothing new to Tweeters, but this seemed especially helpful. KM (without the hash tag) is often the abbreviation for kilometers. Lots of people have joined in. Thanks! If you’re on Twitter and you post about knowledge management, please use #KM. If you use an RSS reader, you can set up a feed to deliver the results so that you don’t miss a thing.


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

SearchWiki from Google: a step in the right direction, but nothing new

Summary: While Google’s new SearchWiki won’t be an immediate benefit to lawyers, it may help them understand the value of commenting on and promoting content, which may lead them to want the same functionality inside the law firm.

Google announced SearchWiki on November 20, 2008. Simply put, SearchWiki is not a wiki. It is an add-on to the standard Google search function that allows you to mark search results as favorites and make a free-form comments about the results.

How it works. After performing a Google search, you’ll notice that there are three new icons near each result: (1) “Promote” – a box with an arrow pointing up to a horizontal line, used to mark a search result as a personal favorite (2) “Remove” – a box with an X, used to remove the result from your (but not other’s) future search results and (3) “Comment” – used to make personal comments, that you and others can see, about the search result.

Google SearchWiki icons

Google SearchWiki icons

After promoting or commenting on a search result, that web page will rise to the top of your future search results for the same search or other search phrases that include the result.

Nothing new. SearchWiki is nothing new, and I wonder just how useful it will be. Other web search engines have done it before: see my post on Scour (a.k.a Aftervote), which has similar promote, demote, and commenting features. The problem with these feature-rich non-Google search tools, like Scour, is that they are not Google. It is far more likely that people will use and enjoy new features in Google than to use a lesser-known substitute, like Scour.

SearchWiki also allows you to see how many other people have promoted, removed, and commented on a search result. Just go to the bottom of a search result page and click the link that says “See all notes for this SearchWiki.” (You can also see all of your own SearchWiki notes and add a result to the search if you did not see what you were looking for – OK this may be helpful.)


See other people's SearchWiki comments

In the example below, search results for “Obama,” there are 296 notes. Among those, the first result indicates that 103 people promoted it, 15 removed it, and 37 commented on it. Google says that the changes that you make only affect your own search results, but it is unclear if a significant number of promotions and comments alter (or will in the future alter) the search result ranking for everyone.

Google SearchWiki results for "Obama"

Google SearchWiki results for "Obama"

What does this mean for law firms? Other than being a nifty way to enhance your Web searches, what’s the impact on law firms? Well, as for Google’s offering, not much. But there are enterprise-class offerings that give you similar features. And these features in the enterprise are more than just nifty — they can be downright helpful; making it easier for lawyers to find the high-quality internal content that they need.

Apply the SearchWiki concepts to the content of the various systems in your law firm and things get interesting. You could promote, demote, and comment on documents in your document management system. But, to make it really useful, the user activity would need to affect other user’s searches. This would help separate the really good work product from the so-so work product — in a decentralized, “democratic” way, as opposed to the single-gate-keeper approach to managing content.

Interwoven Universal Search (IUS) does all that Google’s SearchWiki does, and more – but rather than applied



to the Web, it works with your firm’s internal documents and other content. IUS allows users to promote and demote content (either through a star ranking system or a thumbs up/down procedure), and make comments. Comments are key because they allow lawyers to learn aspects of documents that cannot otherwise be ascertained from the documents themselves. For example, agreements never indicate, in their four corners, whether they are favorable to one party or another; a comment about an agreement can indicate this type of valuable information.

IUS goes further than SearchWiki by allowing tagging of content for quick, easy, and personalized classification. Users of the popular social tagging website Delicious will appreciate the utility of this feature. Finally, IUS allows users to save search results into virtual folders. This is handy if you want to make a personal collection of favorite documents, but still make them accessible to the rest of the lawyers in your firm.

So, while Google’s new SearchWiki may not have an immediate impact on the way lawyers think about managing their content, it may be a step in the right direction. If lawyers become familiar with promoting and commenting on web content, soon they may want to be able to do it with their internal content, as well. It’s yet another example of how consumer-based web tools are shaping the way law firms learn from, and take advantage of, innovative new technologies.

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