KM 101 Webinar: What Do We Know? Document Management and Retrieval Systems

On Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time (US & Canada), I’ll be conducting the second of four webinars in the KM 101 series. Register here – freeIf you missed session one, you can watch it here.

Picking up where session one left off, this session, What Do We Know? Document Management and Retrieval Systems, will focus on the “What we know” of knowledge management. Most firms have been around for many years. They have amassed collections of documents that contain the firm’s “institutional knowledge” or “collective work product.” The ability to quickly and easily access and reuse the models, samples, forms, and precedent documents allows lawyers to leverage the work of their colleagues to ensure high quality work product in a efficient, cost-effective manner.

Like last time, we’ll use Twitter as an additional platform for questions and answers. During the sessions, you can send a “tweet” to me at @LawyerKM and include the hash tag “#KM101.”  I’ll be monitoring Twitter and I’ll try to answer any questions that you may have.  You’ll also be able to ask questions or make comments via telephone or through the WebEx Q&A system.

I’ve already reached out to the “Twitterverse” to ask people their thoughts about this topic and to see what they would like me to cover in session two.  Here are some of the responses (Search LawyerKM on Twitter to see the conversations there):

twitter-responses-re-dms

My thanks to the Twitters above — and all the others — who have chimed in.  You can too… or leave a comment below.

Hope to see you Wednesday.

Knowledge Management 101 for Legal – Webinar Series

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I’ll be conducting a series of four short (20-30 minute) webinars in association with LexisNexis.  The series will be tied to my Knowledge Management 101 blog posts.  Those posts, and the webinars, are intended to give people a basic introduction to KM in the legal industry (hence the “101” designation).  If you’re a KM whiz, like many of my readers, you may not get much out of the series, but if you know someone in the legal industry who wants to begin to understand what KM is all about, please let them know.

And just for kicks, I thought we might try to use Twitter as the platform for questions and answers. During the sessions, you can send a “tweet” to me at @LawyerKM and include the hash tag “#KM101“.  I’ll be monitoring Twitter and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.

Here is the schedule and description for each webinar (or visit the LexisNexis sign-up page for all four):

1. Introduction to Legal Knowledge Management – Wed, April 8 – 3:00 PM

Knowledge management is nothing new, but there is still no agreed-upon definition. The way organizations implement KM efforts and initiatives varies widely; and law firms are no exception. This session will be a general introduction to knowledge management, focusing on the basics. It aims to help you decide whether to introduce KM at your firm, and how it can help — not only in the practice of law, but also in the business of law. A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

2. What Do We Know? Document Management and Retrieval Systems – Wed, April 22 – 3:00 PM

Picking up where session one left off, this session will focus on the “What we know” of knowledge management. Most firms have been around for many years. They have amassed collections of documents that contain the firm’s “institutional knowledge” or “collective work product.” The ability to quickly and easily access and reuse the models, samples, forms, and precedent documents allows lawyers to leverage the work of their colleagues to ensure high quality work product in a efficient, cost effective manner. A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

3. Who Do We Know? Contacts, Connections, and Social Networking for Lawyers and the Legal Profession – Wed, May 6 – 3:00 PM

Knowledge management is not just about documents. It’s also about finding the people (both inside and outside of the firm) who can help you get the job done or help with business development. This session will focus on the importance of the “who we know” aspects of knowledge management. Many firms have seen significant growth in the past decade. At some smaller firms, everyone knows everyone, and their areas of expertise. However, as firms grow and add lateral attorneys, it becomes more difficult to really know your colleagues and the their specialties. Cross-selling legal services to existing clients becomes difficult because attorneys may not know who at their firms can assist. This session will also look at connections outside of the law firm, and discuss how social networking can help solve the “who do we know” problem.  A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

4. Intranets, Portals, Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0 – Wed, May 20 – 3:00 PM

Knowledge Management is not all about technology, but it certainly helps. Today, we’ll discuss how intranets/portals can play a central role in your firm’s KM strategy, and can provide a single place to access much of the information that lawyers and staff need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. We’ll also look at Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, etc.) and see how they can be used both inside (referred to as Enterprise 2.0) and outside the law firm.  A question & answer session will follow the presentation.

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

Another Law Firm on Twitter

Since I’ve written so much about Twitter, including a few posts about law firms on Twitter, I just had to mention another one.  It’s my law firm, Gibbons P.C., where I serve as chief knowledge officer.

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I’m happy to say that we launched our Twitter page today.  You can follow Gibbons P.C. on Twitter by clicking here.  I hope you will.

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

Bringing E-Discovery In-house (LegalTech NY Coverage)

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Wednesday, February 4, 2009.    They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference:  Session title:  Bringing E-Discovery In-house

  • Operate in the most efficient and cost-effective way with external counsel
  • Minimize objections from opposing counsel
  • Create an effective working relationship between legal and IT professionals
  • Recognize and address risks
  • Identify necessary tools and when you need to use them
  • Capitalize on potential savings
  • Identify trends in the marketplace

Moderator:
Jason R. Baron, Director of Litigation, National Archives and Records Administration

Panel:
Will Robberts, CEO, Kempton Advisors, Former President, Livenote (division of Thomson-Reuters)
Tom Tigh, President, SuperiorGlacier
Christopher A. Byrne, Esq., Christopher A Byrne, Esq., P.C, Former Assistant Director, FDIC’s Division of Liquidation
Stuart W. Hubbard, Attorney, Schiff Hardin LLP
Johannes C. Scholtes, President / CEO, ZyLAB North

My notes from the presentation:

One goal of the panel is to help legal types and tech types to better communicate and understand each other.

The panel was impressed that Judge Facciola talked about concept searching in his keynote address this morning.

As Judge Facciola said, it is critical for lawyers to keep up on the technology around e-discovery and to understand it.  It is no longer an option.  You simply cannot litigate these days without knowing about e-discovery.

Cooperation among parties (and among lawyers and in-house IT professionals) is key to saving money matters involving e-discovery.

Mentoring: Baron’s rule of thumb is to get the youngest person in the organization to be involved in e-discovery and make sure they know about it.  But maybe this is bottom-up mentoring?  It works both ways; it fosters cooperation and each learns from the other and develops a positive relationship.  And it helps the firm or corporation to save money on vendors.

Communication is difficult between and among IT folks, lawyers, and records professionals.

Among the audience, many want to bring e-discovery in-house.  For those in the audience who have had success with it, a lot has to do with the good relationship between the lawyers and IT.

The Role of Record Management: starting your strategy with RM and records retention policies and planning can help control the costs and time down the road when you become involved in litigation.  With good RM techniques and practices (including ultimately, records destruction) the process is more manageable.  Destruction of records may sound bad, but in reality, it is simply part of the RM lifecycle.

Baron: The Achilies heel of records keeping is people.  The more you have to rely on people, the high the risk and the more work in the long run.  Auto email archiving can be helpful, but it must be done correctly, or else it can get way out of hand.

Knowledge Management: Baron claims that there are tons of KM conferences, but they never invite lawyers.  Of course, I beg to differ.  Case in point: LegalTech NY – there was a whole legal KM track in this very room on Monday.  Readers of this blog know that there are many KM conferences that are focused on law and lawyers are welcome.  Nevertheless, Baron’s point is well taken: lawyers are often ignorant about KM principles and they are important when considering RM and e-discovery.  These are all connected.

Most companies react to things out of fear.  The key is to be pro-active and to address this before the need arises – before the lawsuits.

Search: Johannes C. Scholtes (ZyLAB pitch): Knowledge management search is different than “legal” or e-discovery search.  KM search just wants the best results, e-discovery search is concerned with finding “everything.”   ZyLAB provides the high level of recall.  But with high recall, you get a lot of “junk” and “noise” (i.e. non-relevant search results).

Finding what’s not there: the technology can find words and concepts that are not actually present in documents.

Key: Early collaboration (before the meet & confer) between the lawyer and technologist to develop strategy and how to perform the search.

How can law firms bring e-discovery in house?:  the panel really did not dig into this issue.  I expected more concrete advice on it.  Perhaps someone will ad a comment and augment my notes?

Factors to consider when selecting e-discovery / EDRM vendors: Ownership of IP – the vendors should own their platforms; important product requirements: scalability, open formats and integration with in-house systems, usability, compare coverage with the EDRM model; Cost of software; size of vendor doesn’t matter – focus on competencies and service levels; speak to references.

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

Best Practices for Social Networking for Lawyers – Web 2.0

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Tuesday, February 3, 2009.   I was reluctant to call this “social networking” but the name persists.  They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference: Web 2.0: Best Practices for Online Networking Exhibit

  • Opportunities in online networking for attorneys
  • Re-energize the traditional, valuable art of networking with tightened budgets, time and resources
  • Growth areas, benefits and challenges of online networking
  • Best practices on selecting a network
  • Gaining the strategic advantage of an online network

Moderator:
Robert Ambrogi, Journalist

Panelists:
John Lipsey, Vice President, Corporate Counsel Services, LexisNexis
Vanessa DiMauro, CEO & President, Leader Networks
Eugene M. Weitz, Corporate Counsel, Alcatel-Lucent
Olivier Antoine, Counsel, Crowell & Moring

My friend and fellow KM guy, David Hobbie,  is also blogging this session on Caselines.

My notes form the session:

Not surprisingly, this session on packed.

Among business people, online networking and social media (SM) is a source of fear.

One survey said 15% of people in the legal industry are members of some sort of social networking (SN).  Another survey says that 59% of lawyers are members of some sort of SN.

Vanessa DiMauro finds that web 2.0 stuff is still new, but maturing.  SM is no longer about tools, but how to apply them and measure them and determine ROI.

John Lipsey – Martindale Hubbell is looking to transform from what it was (print-based lawyer listings) to what it will become (a more useful way for lawyers to fulfill their business needs). The new product is Martindale Hubbell Connected (MHC).  He likes the term “professional networking” rather than SN – me too. They have done a lot of research to figure out what lawyers want and need.

The MHC does not allow anonymous users – it authenticates so that the members have confidence that they know who they are communicating with.  The advantage that MH has is a HUGE database of information on lawyers that they can use to make and enhance connections.  They want to integrate into existing workflow.  This could include the connectors that InterAction (another LexisNexis product) has with LinkedIn.  [makes sense to me]

Olivier Antoine is a practicing attorney who gave his perspective about the value of SN.  It provides value to clients so that you can provide information about who knows who.

Eugene M. Weitz mentioned how he has 2 Blackberrys because he has a professional network and a social network.  He maintains these separately intentionally.  He wants to keep them separate.

The networks allow in house counsel to connect with those who they want to – among in-house counsel, for example.  They can discuss things that are important to them and collaborate within that group.

Bob Ambrogi questioned how Weitz is able to maintain two separate networks.  The investment in time is very difficult to justify.

[side note: while blogging this, I’m also watching Twitter, which is on fire with the #LTNY.  Doug Cornelius just wondered–on Twitter– when MH Connected will be launched.  Mary Abraham, who was in the room, passed along the question and go the answer: Q1 this year.]

DiMauro says there are different social norms that come along with SN – much of the communication is transparent, so you need to be careful.

There was much discussion about networks of trusted people – this reminded me of the really nice ILTA online networking community that is used to connect and ask questions without the threat of vendors reading of contributing

Weitz stressed the need to maintain client confidentialities when participating in online networking communities.   Even asking a simple question or asking for a recommendation can disclose certain information that shouldn’t be disclosed.

Weitz says that this is no different than the type of communication by lawyers – only the vehicle has changed.  The bottom line is that lawyers haveto be as careful with SN sites as they are with all communications – and is some cases, more careful.

DiMauro noted that many other industries have adopted SM and SN.  The legal industry — which has been a late comer and fearful of it — can learn from these other industries.

An audience member asked about the value of LinkedIn.  Oliver gave an example about how he could see that five people from a company he pitched had looked at his profile after the pitch.  There is no other way to get that type of information.  Bob Ambrogi noted that LinkedIn is at least an online directory of business people on the web – the way Martindale Hubbell used to be.

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

What is Twitter and How Can I Use It?

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Monday, February 2, 2009.   They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference: What is Twitter and How Can I Use It?

  • What is Twitter and why should ‘I’ use it?
  • At the end of the day is Twitter the “ultimate time waster” or a “great tool”?
  • From ‘huh?” to “a ha!” – one lawyer’s journey into the Twitterverse. — alternative title “How I learned to stop worrying and love to Tweet!”
  • Time to Tweet? How to use Twitter without losing time to Twitter.
  • Lawyers, Twitter and Client Development
  • How lawyers are using Twitter for sharing and camaraderie among each other

Bob Ambrogi introduced the panel.

Moderator: Monica Bay, Editor-in-Chief, Law Technology News, incisivemedia

Panelists:
Matthew Homann, Founder, LexThink LLC
Kevin O’Keefe, Chief Executive Officer, Lex Blog
Chris Winfield, President, 10e20

My notes of the presentation:

There are already several lawyers and a handful of law firms using Twitter. Chris Winfield polled the audience to see who is on Twitter – quite a few.  Maybe 30-50%

Twitter is about the conversation – it’s not to do “old fashioned” marketing and just slam your message down someone’s throat.   But, as I’ve said, I believe that it can be used to publish marketing-type updates.   Not that it should be used exclusively for that, but it is one possible use.

Chris went through all the basics about how to use it, including search, hash tags, etc.

Chris actually tweeted as he prepared for his presentation and asked people to tell him what Twitter is.  He got many responses and displayed them to demonstrate the way people use it and the value  they find.

Went over Twitter tools:
– search.twitter.com
– TweetDeck
– twitterFon
– EasyTweets – for easy Twitter marketing

Described ways to use Twitter as a lawyer
– learn
– build relationships
– make connections

Matt Homann

Many people in the audience were tweeting the presentation using #LTNY to indicate “Legal Tech New York”

Why do people use it?

– it’s a Kool-Aid application – once you use it and get it, you can’t stop talking about it.
– Matt gets his news from Twitter – through featured and trending topics.  It often has news that does not make it to the mainstream media.  And Twitter users often break news much more quickly than mainstream media.

Twitter is like a river – you can’t see it all at once.   And don’t feel overwhelmed if you miss something – you’re not supposed to see it all.  But, you can always search for key words and find what people have said after the fact.

It is a way to initiate a relationship – the best thing that you can do is make the connection and then follow up with a phone call or some other “real” in-person conversation.

Kevin O’Keefe

Kevin was a Twitter skeptic, but after using it for a few months he was converted.  He gave a concrete example of how he made a customer contact through a Twitter conversation about baseball.

Social Media is more important than search engine optimization.
Kevin — like Guy Kawasaki — would rather go without his cell phone for a week than to go without Twitter for a week.

The Twitter small talk leads to real conversations and relationships.

I had a chance to chat (really, a real conversation – face to face) and he mentioned that he knows of some practicing lawyers who have landed clients through Twitter.
LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

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 – http://twitter.com/AkinGump
  • AlstonBird – http://twitter.com/AlstonBird
  • Arnold & Porter – http://twitter.com/arnoldporter
  • Baker & Hostetler http://twitter.com/BakerHostetler
  • Baker & McKenzie – http://twitter.com/bakermckenzie
  • Baker Botts – http://twitter.com/BakerBotts
  • Bryan Cave – http://twitter.com/BryanCave
  • Cleary Gottlieb – http://twitter.com/ClearyGottlieb
  • Davis Polk – http://twitter.com/DavisPolk
  • Debevoise & Plimpton – http://twitter.com/debevoise
  • Dickstein Shapiro – http://twitter.com/dickstein_llp
  • DLA Piper – http://twitter.com/DLAPiper
  • Fish & Richardson – http://twitter.com/FishRichardson
  • Foley & Lardner – http://twitter.com/FoleyLardner
  • Gibson, Dunn – http://twitter.com/GibsonDunn
  • Goodwin Procter – http://twitter.com/GoodwinProcter
  • Hogan & Hartson – http://twitter.com/HoganHartson
  • Holland & Knight – http://twitter.com/hollandknight
  • Howrey – http://twitter.com/howrey
  • Hunton & Williams – http://twitter.com/huntonwilliams
  • Jones Day – http://twitter.com/jonesday
  • Latham & Watkins – http://twitter.com/lathamwatkins
  • Dewey & LeBoeuf – http://twitter.com/deweyleboeuf
  • Mayer Brown – http://twitter.com/mayerbrown
  • Morgan Lewis & Bockius – http://twitter.com/morganlewis (has four followers and is following four others)
  • O’Melveny & Myers – http://twitter.com/omelveny
  • Patton Boggs – http://twitter.com/pattonboggs
  • Paul Hastings – http://twitter.com/paulhastings
  • Paul, Weiss – http://twitter.com/paulweiss (I think that this may be a person named Paul Weiss – probably not the firm)
  • Proskauer Rose – http://twitter.com/proskauerrose
  • Reed Smith – http://twitter.com/reedsmith (this is a “marketing guy” in Austin Texas – probably named… Reed Smith)
  • Ropes & Gray http://twitter.com/ropesgray
  • Schulte Roth – http://twitter.com/Schulte
  • Seyfarth Shaw – http://twitter.com/seyfarthshaw
  • Sidley Austin – http://twitter.com/sidleyaustin
  • Simpson Thacher – http://twitter.com/simpsonthacher
  • Sonnenschein – http://twitter.com/sonnenschein
  • Squire Sanders – http://twitter.com/squiresanders
  • Sutherland Asbill  – http://twitter.com/sutherland
  • Vinson & Elkins – http://twitter.com/vinsonelkins
  • White & Case – http://twitter.com/whitecase
  • WilmerHale – http://twitter.com/wilmerhale
  • Wilson Sonsini – http://twitter.com/wilsonsonsini
  • Winston & Strawn – http://twitter.com/winstonstrawn

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 – http://twitter.com/lawyerkm- 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

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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

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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 [@] gmail.com with “twitter list” in the subject line, or leave your list in the comments field.

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