The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my book, Knowledge Management for Lawyers.
Members of what I like to call a Knowledge Management Network are not really members of the KM department. Rather, they are like KM liaisons—employees of the firm, outside of the KM department, who act as champions and help promote and facilitate all aspects of KM throughout the organization. In some ways, the KM Network is like an auxiliary police force—members of the community who you can count on to help out with the work of the main force. They are not fully trained, or experts, but they are well-versed enough to help the rest of the community with knowledge management efforts.
A KM Network is more appropriate for larger law firms or law departments, especially those that have multiple offices,or many practice groups. KM Network members can be instrumental in directing colleagues to KM tools and resources. For example, it is common in larger, multioffice firms for lawyers to e-mail members of particular offices asking for assistance with finding resources related to that jurisdiction. Attorneys making such requests often fail to include the KM staff on the e-mails. A local KM Network member in the office (who is on the local e-mail distribution list) can step in to remind the requestor of various resources (e.g., search tools, document collections, databases, etc.) or people (e.g., subject area experts, PSLs) who can assist with the request. Thus, a primary goal of establishing a KM Network is to help keep KM principles, tools, resources, and people in mind when the members of the KM department are not aware of the need. In addition, KM Network members can report back to the KM department if they see the need for training or KM promotion. They expand the reach
of the KM department and assist by keeping their eyes out for opportunities to advance the organization’s KM efforts.
It should be noted that the formation of a KM Network should not obviate efforts to spread KM ideas and principles across all members of your organization. Remember that a fully mature KM organization is one in which all employees understand and value knowledge management.
Does your firm have a KM Network?