Formation of a Knowledge Management Department in a Law Firm

The following extract of my article (for Ark Group’s publication – The Evolution of the Law Firm Library Function: Transformation and integration into the business of law) was published on July 24, 2018 by Daniel Smallwood on LinkedIn.  

It supplies an exclusive insight into the absorption of my firm’s library functions into the knowledge management department, addressing the impetus for the change, its execution, what went well, and what went wrong. 

As Daniel notes in his post,  I will also be co-chairing, with Joshua Fireman, Ark Group’s 14th annual Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession conference taking place October 23rd & 24th in New York. Read more

The Future of Knowledge Management: Collaboration and Interaction – Law Schools Promoting KM

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 11 of my book, Knowledge Management for Lawyers, called “The Future of Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.”

11.2 Collaboration and Interaction.

It is difficult to talk about the future without talking about technology. But the future of KM is not just dependent on advances in technology, although such advances will certainly play a significant role. There is an underlying factor that I believe is equally—and perhaps more—important. That is the nature of how people interact and work. With the popularity and proliferation of social media and social networking, we are seeing a change in the way people interact and behave. People are becoming more collaborative and willing to share. People are more forthcoming with information that, in a bygone era, was once considered better kept confidential. Helping others and sharing information is becoming the new default behavior. This new mindset, characterized by collaborating, cooperating, and sharing information and ideas, is the breeding ground on which knowledge management thrives and grows. This cultural shift, on a societal scale, is a factor that will predispose younger generations (some of whom are already law students and in the workforce) to embrace knowledge management.

There is also an indication of the mindset change in the way we are training our future lawyers. Several law schools have programs that stress the importance of innovation and try to prepare our future lawyers for a different kind of legal industry:

Read more

Knowledge Management Peer Group Reception at ILTA Conference on August 28, 2012

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.

Free KM Webinar: Best Practices and Process Improvements To Maximize Your Document Management System

Improve Your DM! Best Practices and Process Improvements To Maximize Your DMS

Join us for a free webinar on Wednesday, June 20, 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.

Have you recently thought about the structure and effectiveness of your document management system? Are the initial choices you made when implementing it still serving your business needs? Join this webinar to hear about two firms’ efforts to improve their document management systems. The presenters will discuss the implementation of best practices, standardization, naming conventions and business processes that can better capitalize on document retrieval, records management and knowledge management initiatives.


Joshua Fireman, CEO of Fireman & Company, is a respected leader in knowledge management, noted for achieving the field’s ultimate goal of having active contributions to an institutional knowledge base. Joshua was previously the vice president and general counsel of ii3 and designed enterprise-class solutions. Prior to joining ii3, Joshua led the development of McCarthy Tétrault’s knowledge management system. He can be reached at

Cindy Mahoney is a Senior Systems Administrator at Ropes & Gray LLP in New York. She has 10 years of experience with iManage as a document management administrator, project manager, development manager and consultant. Cindy currently serves on the ILTA Enterprise Content Management Peer Group Steering Committee, is a member of the DocAuto Advisory Board and is an ILTA City Rep for New York City. She is a certified Project Management Professional and can be reached at

Monroe M. Horn is the Chief Technology Officer at Sunstein Kann Murphy & Timbers LLP. He can be reached at

REGISTER online here

Questions? Please contact Kristy Costello at 512.795.4674 or

Keep Tabs Without RSS Using Google Reader

Since I’ll be discussing External Knowledge Management: Using Internet Resources to Your Advantage at LegalTech next week (see my post about it), I thought I’d share a new Google tool that can help.

Google Reader is not new, but Google just announced a new feature that allows you to follow changes to any website — even those that do not offer RSS feeds.

It’s simple: find the website you’d like to track, copy the URL into the “Add a subscription” field in Google Reader, then click “create a feed.”  I did it for my firm’s website’s articles page:


According to Google: “Reader will periodically visit the page and publish any significant changes it finds as items in a custom feed created just for that page.”

Obviously, this is a great tool for keeping up with clients’ websites that don’t offer RSS feeds.  But even if a website has RSS feeds, you may want to set up the Google Reader tracker for parts of websites that the RSS feeds do not cover.  For example, if a company has a web page listing employees, it might not publish changes to that page with an RSS feed.  You can keep tabs on who joins or leaves the company by using this new Google Reader feature.

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

Upcoming KM Presentations at LegalTech (and Beyond)

LegalTech New York and The Sixth Annual Law Firm Chief Information & Technology Officers Forum are right around the corner – coming up February 1 -3, 2010.  I’m looking forward to participating on a couple of panels:

First: External Knowledge Management: Using Internet Resources to Your Advantage, at LegalTech on Monday, February 1 at 4:15 p.m.   I am joining David Hobbie, Litigation Knowledge Management Attorney at Goodwin Procter LLP (and author of the Caselines blog), and Tom Baldwin, Chief Knowledge Officer at Reed Smith, LLP.   Rob Saccone, Vice President, General Manager, XMLAW at Thomson Reuters is moderating.

Here’s the outline:

  • Explore free and paid-for services and content sources becoming available for firms to support their knowledge management, marketing and practice needs
  • Using search sites and social networks for legal research, competitive intelligence and current awareness about clients and partners
  • Find information that is out there about your firm
  • Going beyond Google
  • Best practices for understanding the messages the marketplace is sharing about you and your firm and how to manage the data

Next: Enterprise Search: How to Mitigate Risk and Drive Productivity, at the CIO – CTO Forum on Wednesday, February 3, at 11:00 a.m.  I am joining Ali Shahidi, Director of Knowledge Management at Bingham McCutchen LLP and Bill Puncer, Search Advantage Evangelist at LexisNexis.

Description from the program: Law firms are increasingly inundated with information.  Join us for a lively presentation on managing that information—making it searchable; actionable and enhancing its value within the enterprise, thus managing your risk exposure and driving productivity.  Discover how an enterprise search platform can power a range of flexible tools your firm can use to integrate, enrich and manage both internal and external information, reducing the risk of making costly mistakes and increasing productivity within the enterprise.

Also of interest is The Business of Law Symposium, Charting a Successful Course in Today’s Brave New World, sponsored by LexisNexis at LegalTech on Monday, February 1, from 1:00 p.m. to  5:00 p.m.  This promises to be very interesting, starting with a Keynote by Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. There are three other sessions: Knowledge Management; New Structures for the New World; and Future Strategies.  Other notable speakers include: Ali Shahidi (see above) and Oz Benamram, Chief Knowledge Officer at White & Case, and too many others to list.  The program is eligible for up to 4 CLE credits.

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