Generation X, Y, & ME in Your Law Firm (from ILTA) | Knowledge Management

I’m very interested in how different generations of lawyers and legal staff will affect the way law firms will operate.  See Attorney 2.0 – Generation Y in Your Law Firm.   Here’s my coverage of a related ILTA program called Baby Boomers and Generation X and Generation Y – Addressing Generation Gaps in Culture and Technology in the Legal Industry. 

ILTA – August 28, 2008 2:00 pm

These are my notes from the ILTA program [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog.  Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]

From ILTA:

Title: Baby Boomers and Generation X and Generation Y – Addressing Generation Gaps in Culture and Technology in the Legal Industry  – slides
Description: Are law firms dealing with the reality that there are real differences in how the various generations perceive the world, the expectations they have around technology and mobility, and how they relate to each other and member of different generations?  With most law firms being run by Boomers, we need to consider the issues around the fact that most new attorneys and staff are members of gen-X, gen-Y or gen-ME.
Speaker(s): Mark Cameron Willis – Kutak Rock LLP
Matthew Willis – IKON Office Solutions, Inc.
Learning Objectives: Learn new approaches to management.

LawyerKM’s Notes:

Today’s Emerging Law Firm

  • Many firms have been involved in mergers and acquisitions
    Firms are operating like larger companies (they have c-level people)
    There is a global practice
    Competition for institutional clients
    multi-generational workplace

Generation Characteristics


  • Characteristics:
    64+ years old (5% of firm population)
    traditional family values
    loyalty to firm
    strong work ethic
  • Legal practice:
    not tech savvy
    prefer phone vs email
    traditional legal practice – value of relationships
  • Value to Firm:
    loyal clients
    relatinships in community / practice areas
    good mentors (valued by younger generations)
  • Myths / perceptions:
    perception – that this group has stopped learning
    reality – they have vast knowledge

Baby Boomer

  • Characteristics:
    late 40-60’s (70% of law firm partners)
    they surpassed the former generation many ways (e.g., first to go to college, etc.)
    work your way up mentality
    the “me generation” – affluent
  • Legal practice:
    loyal clients
    traditional legal practice, but they embrace change dictated by their clients
    client-service oriented
  • Value to Firm:
    managing the firm
    transition from traditional practice
    these people run the firm
  • Myths / perceptions:
    perception – they are obsolete
    reality – they run the firm
    perception – work-a-holic
    reality – hard workers

Generation X

  • Characteristics:
    30s / 40s year old
    saw 50% divorce rate growing up
    7-8 career changes
    consider themselves as “free agents”
  • Legal practice:
    traditional legal training- research and writing
    they question traditional firm policies
    first generation to adopt technology advances (e.g., Westlaw and Lexis)
  • Value to Firm:
    money makers
    control day-to-day relationship with clients
    they embrace technology
  • Myths / perceptions:
    perception – self-centered (e.g., salary hikes)
    reality – family-centered
    perception – sense of entitlement
    reality – unwilling to sacrifice personal life for firm
    perception – “slackers”
    reality – maybe, but positive response to challenges

Generation Y

  • Characteristics and values:
    late 20s year olds
    quality of life
    brought up on technology in school and in social networks
    “trophy generation” – they need a reward for what they’ve done
  • Legal practice:
    technology is the backbone of practice
    few strong client relatinships
    pressure to bill hours
  • Value to Firm:
    fresh insight
    resourceful and adaptable
    teaching boomers and traditionalists
    access to information (e.g., Findlaw)
  • Myths / perceptions:
    perception – undisciplined
    reality – they actually crave structure
    perception – they challenge authority
    reality – they crave to learn from their elders
    perception – disrespectful
    reality – they tend to treat everyone as equals

Firms Adjusting to the generation gaps:
Check out the matrix in the slides that show differences
Communications: face-to-face > telephone > email> email/text/sms
Bridging the generation gap

offices are designed to attract and keep employees (i.e., Google style vs. Stuffy NYC firm style)
quality of life – some firms have QoL committees
feedback that matches the generational needs
firm evaluations (the employee can offer reverse feedback)
meaningful work
pro bono opportunities

Education and training (training up and down, promoting new technology – wikis, web hosting, webinars, virtual conferneces)
Showed Common Craft’s Wikis in Plain English – the audience actually applauded this video – they loved it.
Technology committee – involving tech end users in tech decisions; comparing tech with corporate clients

Marketing: the new way of marketing involves blogs

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

Web 2.0 Law Firm Adoption (from ILTA) | Knowledge Management

ILTA – August 27, 2008 1:00 pm

These are my notes from the program.  [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog.  Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]

From ILTASee the description and download the slides here

Title: Web 2.0 – Law Firm Adoption
Description: As Web2.0 tools mature, there is an increased number of adoptions by Fortune 500 companies.  We explore and learn if Web 2.0 solutions already being adapted by Fortune 500 companies would be accepted by the lawyers in your firm.
Speaker(s): Bruce MacEwen – Adam Smith, Esq.

Learning Objectives: Learn how the new Web 2.0 tools are being utilized by Fortune 500 companies and its potential impact for law firms.
Analyze adoption rates amongst law firms.

LawyerKM’s notes:

These notes are highlights, you can see the slides on the ILTA site.
Bruce has many good diagrams in his presentation – check it out.

Web 2.0 Agenda:

  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Mashups
  • Social Networking
  • Implications for law firms

The nature of the web and how it has changed:

Web 1.0 > Web 1.5 > Web 2.0
key difference is 1.0=surf, 1.5=search,  2.0=share

Blogs 101
23 blogs known in 1999
125 million blogs in 2008

Blogs as a management tool: a place in professional services firms because there are so many advantages over email.

Blog Basics:
important to have firm-wide blogging policies
you’re personally responsibe
respect and keep secretsinclude positive and negative comments (for credibility); some firms use blogs just for a replacement of client alerts, etc. and disallow comments (whether your firm does this depends on the culture)
be nice

Be Aware:
there is significant time committment to blogging.
your firm may require legal approval

Do’s & Don’ts:
there were a number of these, see the slides link above.
Highlights: don’t get defensive; develop a tone of voice – there is a brand aspect to your blog, a brand is a promise to your readers.

Why blog?
Internally – facilitates collaboration
Externally- demonstrates expertise

Web 2.0 [and Enterprised 2.0] –  At the heart of the knowledge management function; also at the heart of the project management function.

What lawyers do (cases, deals, etc.) are projects.  The intrinsic characteristics of blogs lend themselves to project manaement – the most recent thing is on top.

The way a firm is organized is usually different that the way people interact (see Bruce’s diagram)

like a blog with multiple authors (e.g. wikipedia)
“it will never work in theory, but it works in practice”
the concerns that people will vandalize wiki pages is unfounded (if it happens, the good people will fix it and the vandals will be exposed)
Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein reported 75% drop in email on projects after implementing wikis.
There is very little instruction required.

There is not much downside to trying out wikis and blogs becuase they are generally inexpensive and they are generally accepted because they mirror the way people work.

Definition: basically mixing two or more databases together (e.g. craigslist rentals with google maps or chicago crime with google maps)
Hypo – key clients mashup with a map of an area – could have real value to a firm.
Hypo – “caller ID on steroids” when a client calls, identifies the person as a client, it pulls up all types of firm info and a news feed related to the client.  [this is a great idea – other than this I haven’t heard too many good ideas for mashups in organizations].  this is real “just in time” information that can be very useful for lawyers – getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

This stuff is not “high tech” it is “appropriate tech”

Social Networks
MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Legal OnRamp (specifically for lawyers).

Bruce is disturbed by the number of members and the presence detection features of Legal OnRamp.   [to me this is of minor concern – better platforms, like Facebook allow better control over privacy and presence detection].

Success Stories:
there are some anecdotes, but most are struggling for a balance

McKinsey study: companys are shifting from experimental to broad adoption.  But, 21% were satisfied and 22 were not satified.
Specific internal uses: KM is 83%
External uses: improving client services is 73%

Leadership buy-in, promotion, and endorsement are keys to the success of social networking.  [in my view, this certainly is the key.  you may get some adoption, without it, but it will never be widely adotped and considered a success without it.]

Main take-away: power of the tools is to strengthen relationships that already exist.  It requires business and IT / KM to really collaborate.  It is the IT / KM job to identify new tools, such as social networking, and for senior management to push it forward.

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

Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, etc.) (from ILTA)

ILTA – August 27, 2008 9:00 am

These are my notes from the program. [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog. Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]

From ILTA:

Title: Legal Aspects of Collaboration Tools (Blogs, Wikis, MashUps, IM, Text Messages, Social Networks and More)
Description: Collaboration technologies help promote information sharing, efficiency, cost reduction and can provide competitive advantages. How does the legal environment deal with the information overload and the security of confidential information escaping the realm of the organization? What aspects of legal information need to be considered to help determine how collaboration tools should be utilized in the legal world (and when they should not)? What policies must be in place to protect the shared information?

Speaker(s): Tom Mighell – Cowles & Thompson, P.C.
Dennis Kennedy – MasterCard Worldwide

LawyerKM’s notes:

  • See my notes from yesterday’s presentation
  • Collaboration is no longer an option.
  • Web tools are moving beyond email.
  • News and communication:
    Blogs –
    IM –
    Twitter –
  • Working together:
    Documents – drafts & revisions: the old way was redlining.
    Conferencing – scheduling is a major difficulty and very time consuming.
    Wikis –
  • Web 2.0
    1.0 – focus was getting all the info online – no interaction
    2.0 – making the info available to people in more interesting, interactive ways (e.g. Google Maps, Mashups); moving to user-generated content (e.g., wikis and blogs); software as a service (SAAS); cloud computing.
    e.g., Yelp, Delicious, social networking tools, Facebook and LinkedIn are the main players.
    Martindale-Hubbell is testing their own social network (should be coming out in the next couple of months.
    Mashups – SharePoint can be used to mashup information
    Google Sites – allows you to make a mini portal platform on the web
  • The benefits of collaboration:
    1. taking an active role
    2. enhancing the workflow
    3. getting better results
  • Potential Problems of collaboration:
    1. Loss of control – lawyers are tought that they should control the draft and the drafting proscess. Collaborative drafting (like with Google Docs) can take away this feeling of control, blog comments and wikis also may contribute to the feeling of loss of control. Internal vs. external storage (many lawyers are not comfortable with their data on external servers) there is also the issue of down time of third-party systems.
    2. Security – because you are going outside the firewall, there is a concern. You are potentialll opening up multiple points of compromise.
    3. Ethics – need to be a lawyer’s ethical responsibilities. There have not been many ethics decisions about technology. None were cited about collaboration. Is encryption mandatory? Metadata – one state has found that lawyers should have knowledge that metadata exists in their documents.
  • The Balance between riks and benefits:
    1. Cultural – what is the tolerance for risk at your firm? Balanced scorecard, risk-reward framework.
    2. Costs – many of these tools are free – so lawyers might be inclined to try it out. But, some of those tools may be risky. Hidden costs – free tools have implimentation issues [and what about ads in Gmail].
    3. Portfolio approach – is an economic portfolio approach right (i.e., having a diversified portfolio)? Check out some of the collaboration tools.
  • Defining and Implementing Appropriate Policies:
    1. channel appropriate behaviors – lawyers are good at finding work-arounds when they can’t get what they need.
    2. keeping control – policies, procedures, processes – need some sort of formality to it. Very few people in the audience have any sort of policies or procedures that cover collaboration tools.
    3. security and ethical concers – #1 is confidentiality; different levels of access, authority are key to this.
  • Looking into the Future
    1. recent devlopments – since the cost of travel is high, there is/will be an increase in online collaboration.
    2. trends – web2.0 is becoming more common and people are willing to explore
    3. predicions – clients will drive this (if they want it, lawyers will provide it) video will be bigger in the future
  • Conclusions:
    1. keep current – read blogs [like LawyerKM!]
    2. action steps – find your firms policies; look at the tools that you use; think about the issues that arise with the tools that you use.

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

Collaboration Tools and Technologies for Lawyers (at ILTA) Knowledge Management

ILTA – August 26, 2008 3:30 pm


These are my notes from the program.  [Since I am taking paper-free notes and because there is free Wi-Fi here, I thought that I’d add the notes to the blog.  Disclaimer: my notes are rough, so forgive the typos.]


From ILTA:

Title:   Collaboration Tools and Technologies for Lawyers


Description:     Collaboration technologies and tools are the most important current developments in legal technology and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. During this session, the speakers discuss collaboration technologies for law firms, review tools and explore alternative platforms.



Tom Mighell – Cowles & Thompson, P.C.

Dennis Kennedy – MasterCard Worldwide


Learning Objectives:  

Identify collaboration tools and technologies for law firms.

Analyze their utilization and explore alternative methods.

LawyerKM’s Notes:

  • Do you know how your lawyers are collaborating?
    • email
    • wikis
    • meetings
    • SharePoint
    • etc.
  • Collaboration is not new
    • history of collaborating
    • telegraph is the first form of IM (sort of)
    • telephone
  • Collaboration today
    • mainly email 
    • document collaboration (redlining, track revisions, etc.)
    • conference calls
  • Internal & external collaboration
    • geography and the parties are factors
    • audience is important – e.g. metadata stripping is important when collaborating with third parties, but not necessarily with internal parties
    • Internal: everyone on the same team, see metadata above; brainstorming, etc. openness about the documents
    • External: the collaborators might be on the same side, but might be adversaries.
  • Basics: Documents and Projects
    • Documents – take advantage of the fact that documents are in a digital format.
    • Project Management – lawyers are very much project managers
      • they need to manage the cases and / or deals that they are working on
  • Basic Collaboration Toolbox
    • choice depends on how you work
    • determining what you’re trying to do helps you match tools to the problem
    • calendaring, conferencing, document collaboration
  • Collaboration Platforms
    • SharePoint
    • Google Apps (Dennis is surprised at the interest in this from a large law firm perspective – so am I see Web 2.0 in Law Firms)
  • Web 2.0 Tools
    • key definition – using the internet as a software tool or application platform  (web 3.0 is the semantic web, see here)
    • Blogs, Wikis, Cloud computing
    • they are platform agnostic (PC or Mac – all the same – you just need a web browser)
    • Calendaring on the web allows easy collaboration
    • web-based large file sharing (e.g. Drop IO, usendit)
  • Next Generation Concepts
    • user-generated content publishing (see, e.g., Wikipedia, YouTube, SlideShare, Mash-ups)
    • social networking (LinkedIn, Facebook) becomes an expertise locator.  [what about Twitter?]
    • Legal OnRamp, JD Supra
  • How to learn about collaboration options
    • lots of collaboration blogs: Dennis and Tom’s blog
    • RSS feeds (subscribe to collaboration tag in technorati)
  • Approaches to develop a collaboration strategy
    • is your approach active or passive?
    • collaboration audit – don’t assume that you know how your attorneys are collaborating – check it out. 
    • what is your firm’s collaborative culture?  – look at the way people actually work (even from a non-technological way)
  • Defining and Implementing your collaboration approach
    • try to guide people to accepted products and approaches
  • What is your collaboration culture?
    • the audit will help
    • what are people doing now
    • strengthen collaboration culture – establish a collaboration coordinator [sounds like a KM position; an evangelist]
    • let people know about successes
    • learn from your failures
  • Conclusions
    • no longer an option
    • impact on day to day practice can be huge
  • What to do next?
    • observe how you are collaborating (notice what tools you use)
    • pick one tool and investigate it

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

The U.S. Army on Knowledge Management: Uncle Sam's 12 Principles of KM

See the Government Computer News website for the U.S. Army’s 12 principles of knowledge management. Here’s a summary list:

1. Train and educate leaders, managers and champions.
2. Reward knowledge sharing and make knowledge management a career-enhancing activity.
3. Establish a doctrine of collaboration.

4. Use every interaction, whether face-to-face or virtual, as an opportunity to acquire and share knowledge.
5. Prevent knowledge loss.

6. Protect and secure information and knowledge assets.
7. Embed knowledge assets (links, podcasts, videos, simulations, wikis, etc.) in standard business processes and provide access to those who need it.
8. Use standard legal and business rules and processes enterprisewide.
9. Use standardized, collaborative toolsets.
10. Use open architectures to permit access and searching across boundaries.
11. Incorporate a robust search capability to access contextual knowledge.
12. Use portals that permit single sign-on authentication for all users, including partners.

The PDF referenced in the website includes the principles with corresponding rationales and implications, an illustrative scenario, and a nice glossary of terms.

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

Social Networking for Law Students | Knowledge Management

There’s been a lot in the blogosphere about social networks exclusively for various professionals (see e.g., LawLink and Legal OnRamp for lawyers and Sermo for doctors). You can read more about them in my blog post Social Networking is Dead.

Now, from the “get’em hooked early” department comes a social network for law students called CasemakerX.

Here’s the press release about this first of it’s kind social networking site:

Lawriter, LLC a subsidiary of Collexis Holdings Inc. (OTCBB: CLXS) announced today the development of the first professional social network exclusively for law students. The site was showcased in Beta format at the American Association of Law Librarians Conference in Portland in July. A full launch is expected in early fall 2008 to coincide with the incoming class of new law students. Along with the social networking site, CasemakerX will provide free access to the Casemaker Suite of Applications for the U.S. law student community.

“CasemakerX is an exciting new legal information product that law students and faculty will find useful,” said Duncan Alford, associate dean and director of the law library at the University Of South Carolina School Of Law. “The social networking portion of CasemakerX is reminiscent of LinkedIn, but with the electronic content of primary federal and state law. The upcoming introduction of legal thesaurus searching will make the searching capabilities even more sophisticated and the success of the Collexis search engine and fingerprinting technology in medical research shows exciting promise for legal research.”

CasemakerX is a free service for law students supported by the Casemaker Bar Consortium and its 475,000 attorney members across the U.S. Law students, faculty and law librarians can sign up for the site and register from accredited Law Schools. Once a profile is created, users are networked by areas like corresponding law school, fields of interest, graduation year, etc. Users can also enjoy a host of social networking components including capabilities like blogging, instant messaging, photo sharing, job postings, video streaming via YouTube™, and iPhone plug-ins. Lawriter’s Casemaker suite of legal discovery products is available on the site and includes a library of over 12 Million documents in federal and state case law. The site also includes the recently released Casemaker Medical application, with full text search of over 15 Million biomedical abstracts.

“We are pleased to host this community for the next generation of attorneys,” said Steve Newsom general manager for Lawriter. “Our mission is to help law students succeed – connecting with their peers, their teachers, and the external attorney community to advance their education and career goals.”

Sounds interesting. And I like the idea that this is not just another Facebook-type site that is used primarily for having fun (although, Facebook is a great platform to make business connections, too). If this becomes popular, I think that it will add to the expectations of young lawyers – who will expect “Web 2.0” tools at work. For more on that, see Attorney 2.0 – Generation Y in Your Law Firm.

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

Stealth Networking | Knowledge Management

Not “stealth” as in “I don’t want you to know about it.”  More like “stealth” as in “I don’t want to bother you.”

I’ve mentioned e-mail-mining technologies, like Contact Networks, before in “Who Do We Know” and “The Zero-Percent Rule.”  Here’s a piece in KMWorld called, “Contacts and connections: an array of options” that addresses the topic.  It discusses what they’re doing over at Reed Smith.   As Tom Baldwin, Reed’s CKO states in the article, it’s important to “make use of contact information without taking any time away from our busy attorneys.”

The article has a nice description about how the systems works.  “ContactNet mines e-mail message flow to identify relationships outside the enterprise. It calculates the strength of the relationships by measuring the frequency of such messages. Users can type in the name of an individual or a company, and ContactNet brings up a list of people within the firm who have connections to the target person or organization. In addition, ContactNet provides access to a large database of public and private companies. Through that database, users can find out the standard industry code, the standing of the target individual within the company, and other information critical to understanding the context of the connection.”

Does your firm use Contact Networks or any of the similar systems, like Visible Path or BranchIT.  If so, please let us know how you like them.

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

LinkedIn adds Searchable Group Directory

Everyone’s favorite online business networking website, LinkedIn, has had groups for quite a while. They have also had a groups directory for a while – but it has never been searchable. Up until now (well, tomorrow really), the only ways to learn about interesting groups that you might want to join were word of mouth, or noticing a group badge on a someone’s profile.

LinkedIn announced that on Friday, July 11 (also known as Apple iPhone 3G Day), it will add a seachable group directory. Now you can run a search like “knowledge management” and you’ll find groups, including my favorite: [shamelss plug alert] “Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals.”

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

Social Networking is Dead

OK it’s not really dead. Actually, social networking is alive and well. And thriving.

The “networking” part is fine. It’s the “social” part that needs to be killed off–at least when discussing the idea to professionals who have no patience for the likes of MySpace and Facebook. Here’s the problem: those who are unfamiliar with the versatility and value of the features of social networking tend to be fixated with the word “social.”

Social, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, means “relating to or designed for activities in which people meet each other for pleasure.” So, it’s not surprising that busy lawyers generally cringe when the hear about social networking. <sarcasm> There’s just no room in most law firms for pleasure </sarcasm>.

This idea prompted the Twitter question, “is it really “social networking” if you use social networks for business reasons? Should we simply call it networking?

Bloggertweeter Nicole Black agreed that it should just be “networking.” Bloggertweeter Doug Cornelius had some thoughts, too.

And what about LinkedIn? It’s a networking site, but it is geared toward business networking. Steve Matthews reported that the number of lawyers on LinkedIn has increased by 98,000 in the last two months. Kevin O’Keefe pointed out that LinkedIn site traffic (unique visitors per month) is way up and that all major law firms have profiles on LinkedIn.

Those who are unfamiliar with it tend to lump together LinkedIn with MySpace and Facebook, but the focus is different. Kevin refers to LinkedIn as a “professional social network.” I kind of like that concept, but I am not completely sold. My gut feeling is still to strike “social” – but really only when the discussion involves those who don’t get it. And just in case my readers aren’t familiar with their work, Nicole, Doug, Steve, and Kevin all get it.

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece called Social Networking Goes Professional, back in August 2007. It describes how some doctors use social networks to share ideas about solving medical problems. When doctors connect with each other online (at a site called Sermo) to seek advice on a tricky diagnosis, it seems to be “all business” to me. There are social networking platforms that target lawyers, too (see e.g., LawLink and Legal OnRamp – Doug has written a lot about them.) Some of these social networking sites are a step in the right direction, but they attract those who already “get it.” Any lawyer who would join one of these sites doesn’t need to be convinced of the value of social networking. [Tangent: doctors and lawyers have no problem with social networking on the golf course, why the aversion to social networking online?]

Those who don’t get it may point to this IBM commercial, which features a Generation Y slacker employee wasting time on a social networking site. His boss points out that his networking is much too “social” and not enough about “business.”


I really like that commercial. The implication, of course, is that IBM can provide solutions that harness the power of social networking and put it to business use. My fear, however, is that some people will use it as ammunition in their crusade against using technology to connect people – just because they think that the technology might be misused by the likes of the slacker.

What we must understand–and communicate–is the idea that it’s not the platform, but the way that you use it. For example, I started using Facebook (which was originally exclusively for college students) to connect with fellow legal KM folks for business networking. (I’ve slowly expanded my use of it to connect “socially,” as well.) There are several KM and technology groups on Facebook – for legal and other fields (see a short list below).

So, when trying to promote the features and benefits of social networking in your law firm or other organization, is it a good idea to dispense with the “social” and just focus on “networking?” Or maybe call it “business networking” or “online networking.” Please discuss in the comments.

Facebook Groups (please feel free to add more in the comments):

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

Help Me Help You: Social Media in Your Law Firm | Knowledge Management

Common Crafts new video, Social Media in Plain English, really emphasizes how a lot of this new-fangled social technology (esp. tagging, commenting, and voting) is really nothing new, and nothing to be afraid of. It’s just a twist on the old way (and often better and more effective way) to do things. It’s not appropriate for every aspect of the way lawyers work, but it can be helpful in many respects. (post continued below video)


(See other LawyerKM Common Craft stuff here)

Allowing comments on model documents in your precedent repository (or DMS – see e.g., Interwoven) can add a perspective–and value–that the author or the KM staff or your PSLs did not initially recognize. For example, you may have added a particular sample because it is a good example of a certain kind of brief related to a particular industry. And that’s the way the KM staff described it in the “official” description in your KM system. But a non-KM user (i.e., a practicing lawyer) may think that it’s a good example not because of the industry to which it is related, but because of the nature of the litigants (e.g., limited liability company vs. professional corporation) – a piece of meta data that’s not likely to be part of your official taxonomy.

As we all have come to accept, meta data is important to the ability to locate the information we need. But don’t forget about user-created meta data (tags, comments, votes, etc.). KM folks may think we know what’s important to the lawyers we support (and much of the time, we do), but those lawyers know what’s important to them. So, why not allow them to help us learn? Sort of “Help me help you…” but I suspect that your lawyers won’t be begging you with as much desperation as Tom begs Cuba.


So, don’t be afraid. Maybe we should call it “Business Media” instead of “Social Media.”

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