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.

From the official ILTA Announcement:

ILTA 2013: The Catalyst is a four-day educational conference with over 200 peer-developed educational sessions, ample networking opportunities, more than 200 exhibiting vendors and much more!

August 18-22, 2013 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Register now for discounted pricing.

Register by March 31st and get a $150 discount off the standard rate. Check out the SuperPass offering for organizations sending seven or more people.

The catalyst for new ideas, new connections.

A catalyst can be defined as something or someone that causes a reaction or activity between two or more things to create something new. ILTA’s 2013 conference will be a time to make reactions happen that will affect our profession now and for years to come. Join us, and find your catalyst for change!

Sessions: abundant and relevant.

We have a stellar lineup of keynote speakers who take the stage each morning, and attendees will experience various session formats, including hands-on, interactive audience participation, case studies, advanced curriculum, roundtables, lecture presentations and panel discussions. You are sure to have numerous takeaways to use back at the office! The full session lineup will be provided by the end of May.


Networking opportunities begin on Sunday afternoon with our Communities of Interest, and they continue throughout the week. Take advantage of the numerous opportunities to meet with your peers face-to-face!

Stay informed; join the conversation.

> Visit the ILTA Conference Facebook event
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> Help spread the word: #ILTA13
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200170689-004Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Chinese proverb.

As knowledge management professionals, we want to encourage sharing and the dissemination of knowledge throughout our organizations.  We know how hard it can be to do that and to encourage people to do the same.  You may have set up wonderful systems and resources to help promote this, but sometimes it may seem that you just can’t reach everyone with the “good word” of KM.

Don’t be frustrated.  Be creative.

As a KM professional, you are a “go to” person in your firm.  People come to you for answers.  This is a great opportunity for you to not only respond to their needs, but to promote the KM way of doing things.  In other words, don’t just give someone a fish, also teach them to fish.

Take this opportunity; do it regularly.  Integrate it into everything you do – make it a part of your standard operating procedure, a part of who you are as a KM professional and person.  Always be ready to teach someone to fish.  Here are a few examples:

  1. If you’re in a role that requires you to respond to requests for research assistance (e.g., professional support lawyer, paralegal, reference librarian, etc.), in addition to giving them the fish (“here is the list of cases that you asked for”), also include a link to resource.  This may help the requesting attorney find something on their own the next time.  Of course, I am not suggesting that you adopt a “go-find-it-yourself” attitude.  But giving people self-service tools is always a nice option.
  2. If there is no “lesson” related to the request, as in the above example, then offer a different species of lesson fish.  Perhaps you know that the requesting attorney is typically interested in certain areas of the law.  Regardless of what they ask of you, use the opportunity to add a post script to the response (“I thought you might be interested in this new resource we just added to the Firm Intranet…”)
  3. My favorite is the “email signature” approach.  You can add a “Did you know”-type footer to your emails.  So, regardless of the communication, you are always promoting some KM tool or concept.  For example, “Did you know you can find model documents using the firm’s enterprise search engine [link]?” or “Find contacts and connections for business development with [insert name, and link to, CRM system].” or “Have you checked out the firm’s electronic library [insert link]?”  or “Check out our Knowledge Management resource page [link] on the firm Intranet.”

And don’t just stop there.  Encourage others to teach people to fish.  Even though they are not “KM professionals,” others in your firm may be your biggest KM proponents – especially lawyers.   The next time a lawyer thanks you for introducing them to that great new KM resource or tool, ask them to spread the word to their peers (“Thanks for the note, please tell your fellow attorneys about it.”).  It is often more compelling when customers (the lawyers in your firm) sing the praises of your KM efforts to other potential customers (the lawyers in your firm who are not yet KM converts).  That’s why you see customer testimonials on infomercials.  The Shamwow Guy is pretty convincing, but it’s those actual customers who “can’t live without it” who really sell the product.

I hope you find these ideas helpful.  I’d love to know how you teach people to fish.  Please share your story or thoughts in the comments.

See Nearby HoB MembersLegalTech NY is next week and it’s time to network.  Over the years, I’ve grown more interested in the easy networking opportunities (since I live in NYC) than the content at this event (I find it a little too e-discovery heavy).  As I was planning my week, I was reminded of a new iPhone app that I recently downloaded.  It’s called Here on Biz.

In a nutshell, the Here on Biz (HoB) app adds location awareness to your LinkedIn account allowing you to connect — and meet up — with people around you.  So, say you’re on a business trip (maybe for a legal trade show in New York) and you want to kill some time by finding other business folks who would like to meet up for some networking.  Here on Biz provides you the way to find others looking to do the same.

How to use Here on Biz. Download the app (link) and sign up by connecting it to your LinkedIn account.  When you launch the app, Here on Biz locates you and shows you fellow Here on Biz users in the area.   Check out the profiles and if you find someone interesting, click the plus sign to add them to your HoB network.  When they accept the invitation, you can start a chat and arrange a meet up.  HoB has been described as Foursquare for business.

As the iTunes page for the app says, “Never miss another business opportunity around you. See other LinkedIn members around you who use Here On Biz and connect/chat with them. Be alerted when other group members or those in your network are nearby while you travel.  No more unproductive evenings alone at the hotel lobby bar while traveling on business. Here On Biz allows you to easily network with professionals around you in real time.”

Another nice feature, that should be applicable to the LegalTech crowd, is the ability to check in at a nearby event.  I haven’t used this feature yet, but When I get to LegalTech, I’ll do so.  I invite you to connect with me on Here on Biz.  And maybe we can connect (for real) at LegalTech.


Here’s a little tip that I have been doing for years. Before I travel, I check my LinkedIn connections in the area where I’m going.  It helps remind me who I’m connected with and it gives me an excuse to catch up with an old friend or colleague.

Here’s my step-by- step method for pre-trip connection planning:

1. Go to LinkedIn’s Advanced Search page.  The link is in the upper right-hand corner, next to the search box.

2. Select the location where you’ll be, using a zip code, and a range (e.g., 50 miles) indicating that you’re looking for contacts within a certain distance of the zip code.  Depending on where you’re going, you’ll want to adjust this setting.

3. Decide who you want to connect with.  You can narrow your search by industry, members of LinkedIn Groups, and degrees of contacts.  I usually opt to filter out everyone except for my first degree connections. 










4. Review the list and reach out.

Online (social media) connections are great, but there’s nothing like a good old face-to-face meet-up.  The nice thing about tools like LinkedIn is that they’re not only great for keeping in touch online, but they can facilitate an in-person meeting as well.

On a recent flight from Chicago to New York, I realized that there is a lot of important information to process when traveling.  There’s also a lot of unimportant information – noise.  I sat in the emergency row, so I had even more to process than some of the other passengers (e.g., the emergency exit door weighs 50 pounds and it needs to be completely removed prior to exiting).

What struck me is that even in an environment where certain information is so critically important — life and death in some instances — the airline also muddied the water with frivolous information.  Interspersed with “what to do in case of a water landing,” for example, I learned that I was flying on a McDonnell Douglas S80 aircraft and that we would be flying at 31,000 feet.  My immediate reaction: “Why are you telling me this?”  These are two pieces of information that are completely irrelevant, unimportant, and distracting.  That’s the problem – distraction.   By including this distracting information, the airline runs the risk of passengers missing the important stuff.   How much did that door weigh, again?

The same applies in your organization.  If you clutter your message with frivolous information, there’s an increased chance that people will miss what you really want them to know.  To increase the likelihood that you’ll effectively communicate what’s important, think “simple and minimal.”

“Simple” is about making things easy to understand.  Speak or write in plain language, not KM jargon.  Use as few words as possible to effectively communicate your message.  When writing for the web, or your Intranet, remember: people don’t read – they skim the content.  Make it short, sweet, and skim-able.

Steve Jobs, the Master of Simplicity, relayed the idea when he said, “This is a very complicated world, it’s a very noisy world. And, we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us, no company is.  And so we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”  He wasn’t talking about internal communications, but rather about marketing Apple’s products.  Nevertheless, the same principle applies.  Keep it simple.

“Minimalism” is about eliminating distractions.  As eloquently stated by Joshua Becker in his book, Simplify, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things that we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”  Like Jobs, Becker wasn’t referring to internal communications, but again, the principle applies.  Effective communication is clear, concise, and uncluttered.

For more about simplicity, minimalism, and communication, check out Knowledge Management and the Simple Stick.

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.

Future-Proofing Your SharePoint Strategy  

Join the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) for this free webinar on Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. GMT / 12:00 p.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. CST /10:00 a.m. MST / 9:00 a.m. PST.

Having an effective SharePoint strategy is essential to getting the full value out of your platform investment. But how do you create an effective strategy, and where do you start? SharePoint is a continually evolving platform, so once you have a strategy, how do you ensure it will be successful over time? Join Richard Harbridge as he discusses the importance of effective SharePoint strategies and outlines real-world best practices in the legal industry.

Richard Harbridge is an internationally recognized expert in Microsoft SharePoint and is a technology and business evangelist with deep expertise in information architecture, enterprise content management and technology strategy. He has successfully defined, architected, developed and implemented well over one hundred SharePoint solutions, including small implementations on a single server to over 80,000-user implementations in international organizations.

REGISTER online here

Questions?  Please contact Kristy Costello at 512.795.4674 or kristina@iltanet.org

The Attorney Personality Profile – Knowing and Harnessing Your Practitioners’ Tendencies

Join ILTA for this webinar on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at

4 p.m. GMT/ 12 p.m. EST / 11:00 a.m. CST /10:00 a.m. MST / 9:00 a.m. PST.

Join in the exploration of personality types, lawyers’ personalities specifically, that impact the successful implementation of firm projects, with particular emphasis on KM initiatives. Based on several studies that have examined the typical lawyer personality, hear why lawyers are both rewarding and challenging people with whom to work. Learn how to use this information to work more effectively with attorneys as you gain a better understanding of their strengths and foibles, how to engage them and what tendencies need to be managed.


Mark Sirkin, Ph.D. is the Principal of Sirkin Advisors. He specializes in working with the leadership of law firms and law departments to assist them with people issues, including coaching struggling partners, advising law firm leadership, introducing competency models and evaluating legal talent. For the past 20 years, Mark has worked at the highest levels of organizations and firms, helping individuals and teams improve performance and results. He can be contacted at mark@sirkinadvisors.com or (914) 450-6481.

If you would like to Tweet during this session the hashtag for the Knowledge Management Peer Group is #ILTAKM

Fee:  The fee is PER CONNECTION and is $50 for ILTA members and $150 for non-members.  You will receive connection (both phone and internet access) information upon receipt and processing of payment.

REGISTER online at: http://www.iltanet.org/MainMenuCategory/Meetings/Webinars/WEB-KM-072612-942755.html

Questions?   Please contact Kristy Costello at 512.795.4674 or kristina@iltanet.org

This blog post is cross-posted on the ILTA KM Blog.

People who know me well know that I’m a bit obsessed with simplicity, minimalism, and focus.  For a while, those three words were set as my iPhone screen wallpaper, staring me in the face dozens of times a day.  So, when I learned that Ken Segall, who worked with Steve Jobs on several Apple ad campaigns, published a book called Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, of course I bought it.

Insanely Simple digs into the world of simplicity at Apple under Steve Jobs.  It also introduces the concept of the Simple Stick.  “The Simple Stick symbolizes a core value within Apple. Sometimes it’s held up as inspiration; other times it’s wielded like a caveman’s club. In all cases, it’s a reminder of what sets Apple apart from other technology companies and what makes Apple stand out in a complicated world: a deep, almost religious belief in the power of Simplicity.”

The Simple Stick is a concept I’ve begun to adopt in my knowledge management work.  I’ve always sought to distill ideas, thoughts, and work product to their essence, making them “as simple as possible, but no simpler.”  But the idea of the Simple Stick gives me a shorthand (simpler!) way to communicate my desire to do so.   It’s a reminder to me (and to those with whom I work) to not give in to the evils of complexity.  This applies in written communications, as well as user interface / user experience design, of intranet sites.  On a review of a prototype intranet page, for example, I’ll say “hit it with the Simple Stick,” meaning: look for ways to make the interface cleaner, or the method of accessing data more direct and uncomplicated.  While some people have a tendency to clutter up a page with superfluous words or features or other unnecessary stuff, my goal is to keep chipping away until what’s left is both necessary and sufficient.  After all, “perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Simplicity in KM is important for many reasons, not the least of which is time (or the lack thereof).  Busy lawyers have precious little time, and the time they have is best spent on revenue-generating work.  Wasting their time with superfluity affects the bottom line.  One of the cornerstones of KM is to increase efficiency.  Complex design, cluttered ideas, and extra stuff gets in the way and slows us down.  Clean, simple design is faster and clearer.  It empowers people.  It allows them to get things done and move on to the next important task.  It reduces frustration and disharmony.

As Segall writes, “Simplicity needs a champion.”  His book provides readers with the anecdotes, ideas, and motivation to promote that cause.

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