Readers of the blog know that for the past few weeks, I have been crowd sourcing comments for my KM book that will be published by the ABA in early 2014.  Thanks to all who have commented here and sent me emails with other comments.

Future hand curtain depositphotos crop

Last week we talked about disappointment and failure.  This week, a more rosy topic: the future of KM. I think that the future of KM is bright for at least two reasons (several more, really).  First, KM is necessary because the “new normal” is here to stay.  The global economic crisis has changed our industry and law firms are not likely going back to the good old days of “getting away with” inefficiency.  One of the main goals of KM is to help lawyers be more efficient.  Second, KM professionals are innovative and they are constantly looking for new ways to deliver that efficiency. Unlike the apocryphal story about the head of the Patent Office advising President McKinley in 1899 to close the Patent Office because “everything that could be invented has been invented,” I believe that there is plenty of innovation to come in the field of knowledge management.

However, let me play the devil’s advocate for a moment – just to get your commenting juices flowing. One could argue that most firms have mastered the fundamentals of KM and have done well enough with KM activities that they can check KM off their lists (“We have an intranet, we can find stuff. We’re good, thanks.”). Furthermore, advances in technology can handle the incremental benefits that could be gained beyond what has already been accomplished by “basic KM stuff.”  There’s really no need to invest in KM anymore.  And for those firms that have not gone down the KM path, don’t bother.  Spend a few bucks on “knowledge management software” or a “KM system” and be done with it.  You don’t need to over-think it, and you certainly don’t need to hire anyone to do KM.

So, what do you think?  What is the future of KM?  I would love to hear what you have to say.

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’ve spoken before about the importance of user experience (UX) design associated with the development of applications that support knowledge management initiatives and efforts.  And in fact, I’m scheduled to discuss the topic again as a part of ILTA’s presentation track at LegalTech NY in 2014.  As I ponder this topic, and as I write a section about UX in my forthcoming book about KM in the legal profession, I am reminded of the idea that I presented in my first talk about UX: that we are undergoing a phenomenon that I call the “consumerization of user experience.”

This idea is similar to the familiar phrase “consumerization of IT,” which refers to people comparing experiences with their personal technology to the experiences they have with technology that they are “forced to use” in their professional lives.  Early on, this comparison was mainly focused on system performance (“my home PC is 10 times faster that this piece of *&^% that I have to use in the office”).  Some people even resorted to bringing their own personal notebook computers to work so that they could avoid the frustration of the standard issue equipment.  I recall, years ago, that I purchased (at a then significant cost) a 20-inch, wide view, flat screen Dell computer monitor to attach to my office PC because I found the office monitor (a small 17-inch flat screen) to be completely inadequate.  Happily, some things have changed.  More and more “office tech” started catching up to what people tend to have at home.

But now, the “consumerization of IT” has turned into the “consumerization of user experience.”  It’s no longer the system performance, or size of the monitor that people are focused on (although, who wouldn’t love to have a beautiful 27-inch iMac  in the office)… today it’s the entire experience.  In the last few years, people are again wishing things in the office were more like they are at home (or even on their commute).  The blame (or credit, depending on your perspective) falls squarely with Apple, specifically with the iPhone and iPad.  While there are now other, similar phones and tablets that provide a wonderful user experience, it is undoubtedly Apple that opened this Pandora’s Box of good UX design for all to enjoy.

After using these devices, going back to the clunky, confusing desktop world of Outlook, Word, and Internet Explorer is a chore.  The iPhone and iPad have ruined it for us because we are once again reminded daily of the difference between our personal experience on our iDevices and our work experience on our PC devices.

The one upside, at least for those in KM who are involved with application development, is that lawyers have taken note.  They are now expressing opinions (some more vocally than others) about how things should work.  They want applications (especially those supporting KM initiatives) to be simple, intuitive, and (gasp!) enjoyable to use.  In short, they are demanding a better user experience.  This goes double for any applications that are designed to be client-facing.  And by the way, even those who are not expressing those opinions still want a better experience – they just haven’t found the right person to whom they are supposed to complain.

So, while the “consumerization of IT” may be in our past (maybe), the “consumerization of UX” is alive and well.

220px-Seneca-berlinantikensammlung-1These days, I’ve been reverting a bit to my college life when I studied philosophy, and revisiting some old texts.  Not surprisingly, I’m coming across pearls of wisdom in the writings of the ancient thinkers.  This, from Seneca‘s Letters From a Stoic (Letter VI – On Sharing Knowledge), caught my eye and reminded me that there’s nothing new under the sun:

“Nothing will ever please me, no matter how excellent or beneficial, if I must retain the knowledge of it to myself.  And if wisdom were given me under the express condition that it must be kept hidden and not uttered, I should refuse it.  No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share it.”

Although he studied law, I am doubtful that Seneca suspected, almost 2000 years later, that lawyers and law firms would be challenged by what came to be known as knowledge management.  I further doubt that he could imagine that some would question the value of sharing knowledge.

For those of you attending the ILTA Conference in Washington, DC next week, the ILTA Knowledge Management Peer Group will be holding a reception following our conference sessions on Tuesday, August 28, from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm in the foyer area outside of National Harbor 4-5.   We hope that you can join us!

A special thank you to HighQ for sponsoring our reception.

In case you missed any of the six Knowledge Management Peer Group Track sessions at the annual ILTA conference this year, you can listen to the audio recordings of them now.  And best of all, they are free.  Here is a description of the sessions from a previous blog post, and here is a list of the KM sessions (links launch audio):

KMPG1 – Advances in Document Assembly
KMPG2 – Social Networking in the Legal Industry
KMPG3 – It Takes a Village to Deliver Effective AFAs
KMPG4 – How KM Supports Innovative Service Delivery
KMPG5 - Creating an Optimal KM Value Strategy
KMPG6 – KM Helps Meet the ACC Value Challenge

Here is a link to the page with all the conference sessions.

The ILTA Conference has begun here in Nashville.  I’ll be attending as many of the sessions as I can (there are so many to choose from).  The first session I attended was a Knowledge Management Peer Group Steering Committee sponsored session called Advances in Document Assembly.

Here is the info from ILTA followed by my brief notes.  Please forgive the typos (I’m typing away quickly just to get the thoughts down on “paper”).

From ILTA:

Advances in Document Assembly
Description: While document assembly applications have been around for a few years, adoption has been relatively slow and usually for niche legal practice areas. However, new technologies may rejuvenate interest.

Date/Time:     Monday 8/22/2011 at 11:00 a.m.
Location:     Canal C
Speaker(s):

  • Peter Krakaur – Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  • Michael Tominna – DLA Piper
  • Ayelette Robinson – Littler Mendelson, P.C.
  • Yvonne Willis – Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
  • Moderator: David Hobbie – Goodwin Procter LLP

My Notes:

Poll: Most people in the room do not currently use DA software.

DH – What is DA?  – Continue reading »

If you’re headed to the ILTA Conference next week, please consider attending some (or all) of the six Knowledge Management Sessions.  Then, immediately following the final KM session, please join the KM Peer Group for our annual conference Cocktail Party on Wednesday 8/24 at 4:30 p.m. in room Delta C at the Gaylord.  The cocktail party is sponsored by Recommind.

On October 26, 2010 I attended day one of Ark Group’s two-day Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession conference in New York City. Day one was really a pre-conference workshop on Legal Project Management (LPM), which was wonderfully facilitated by Joshua Fireman, VP and General Counsel of ii3, and Andrew Terrett, Director of Knowledge Management at Borden Ladner Gervais (Terrett is also Certified Project Manager (PMP), which was especially relevant to the workshop).

Joshua and Andrew did a very nice job of presenting a high-level overview of project management, including key definitions, why lawyers need project management, key PM concepts, PM application to legal services and the role of KM in LPM.  The second half of the day was spent in work groups hypothetically implementing PM in a case study.

What is the Role of KM in Legal Project Management?

I won’t get into all the details because others have written a lot about the KM – LPM connection Continue reading »

On Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 2:00 p.m., I’ll be moderating a panel called “How to Increase the Use of Knowledge Management Tools” at the 2010 International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Aria Hotel & Casino.

The panel is made up of three fantastic speakers:

Attend this informative and practical presentation and you’ll learn how some of the top legal KM professionals ensure the successful use of KM tools at their firms.  Tips include: effective communication, training, branding & marketing, and measuring & feedback.

Here is the description of the program from the ILTA web site:

What does your firm do to ensure that KM tools are fully adopted and used properly? A firm-wide e-mail announcing your new “KM solution” is not enough. This session is targeted to firms with established KM programs, but where there is an ongoing struggle to ensure the KM department is visible and understood. You’ll learn to market, sell and make the business case for your KM tools.

You can download the presentation materials and get more information about the session on the ILTA website.

If you have questions for the panel prior to the session, you can contact them via the links above, or via Twitter.  Please use the hashtags #ILTA10 and #KMtools in your tweets.

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

I’m a “social media evangelist.”  I encourage responsible use of social media.  I think that having a good LinkedIn profile, for example,  is important.  Since I often spread the good word, I often get questions about how to use various social media sites.

One question I get a lot is: “How do I get my picture from one website (e.g., my firm’s web page) to appear on my LinkedIn profile?”   Not rocket science.  I can practically do it in my sleep.

The first time someone asked me, I called them and walked them through the steps involved.  It took a few minutes.  No big deal.  I didn’t mind doing it once.

But when someone else asked me the same question, I kicked myself for not taking a few extra minutes to write it down and send it to them in an email.  So, I did.  Now, if a third person asked, I’d be ready and forward that email – so as to not reinvent the wheel.

The third time was déjà vu all over again.  I knew I had answered the question before.  I knew I was ready to answer it again.  But now I just had to find it.  It was somewhere in my rat’s nest of Outlook folders.  It took several minutes, but I found it and forwarded the answer along. Not horrible, but there had to be a better way.

That better way was a wiki.  I had learned my lesson.  The next time I would be ready.  I saved the instructions into a wiki page.  No more email folder hunting.   I knew it was in the wiki.  A quick search for “LinkedIn” would bring it up.

That next time was today.  The whole transaction took me about 20 seconds.

The goal is to do things once, then re-use what you’ve done.  It saves time and frustration, and allows you to provide faster and more consistent customer service.

How do you use wikis to make your life — and the lives of others — easier?

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

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