Knowledge Management As Educators

23 Apr
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Adam Dedynski, Knowledge Management Project Manager, Reed Smith

This blog is part of our “Foundations of Knowledge Management” and “The Evolving Role of Education” series.

Knowledge Management (KM) professionals can play a vital, and often varied, role when it comes to delivering formal learning. KM lawyers create and deliver training on legal topics, law librarians provide legal research or database training, and innovation and KM managers provide training on technology or processes. How this is shaped and delivered is always evolving, particularly with the move toward remote working. This blog outlines some of those trends and ideas for delivering engaging education.


Spending time planning and structuring learning from the outset is important. Engage with your lawyers or business services professionals about what they want to learn about and how. You could send a survey, speak to key individuals, or set up a ‘training ideas’ portal. For legal training you could create a series based on legal procedures or stages in a transaction (although think about the levels of experience as the needs of a junior and senior lawyer will often be different). At Reed Smith our innovation training series focuses on themes (such as data and design thinking). Consider, however, if formal learning is the most appropriate method as a lot of learning is best gained through hands on experience.

KM crosses paths with many teams, such as IT, Marketing and Learning & Development (L&D) so collaborate if a topic lends itself (electronic signatures is a good example as it’s a blend of law, technology and process). If you have an L&D department it is particularly worth engaging with them as they can offer advice on strategy, planning, presenting, technology platforms, and potentially share administrative duties.

Speaker engagement

People at all levels can deliver training, however, you do need someone who has the right experience and skills to engage with an audience (be that virtual or in-person). If there are people outside of KM that know a lot about a particular piece of technology or area of law then you could ask them to lead a session (for example, a senior lawyer talking about one of their high-profile or complex matters).

Sometimes you may not have the in-house experience or people with the right skills to deliver training. Therefore, think about how external speakers could play a role (often at no cost). Ask barristers (if you are in the UK) or experts to present about a topic, or ask vendors to demonstrate how best to use their technology. If budget allows, then paying for external speakers can be more effective and cost-efficient.

It is time-consuming to deliver consistent and good quality training even if you have a large and well-supported KM team. You should be upfront about the time commitment and clear about what you would like your speaker to deliver.


Time is a critical factor at play in law firms so striking the right balance is important. Legal training in particular can take a long time if the topic is complex or new, therefore, think about breaking it down. Committing to a thirty or fifteen minute session rather than an hour may be more realistic or appealing for attendees. Try a few different approaches and analyse feedback or metrics.

There are many ways to make your training interactive or engaging, you could include a quiz or gaming element, or if the session is over a video platform think about using the functionality on offer such as break-out rooms, polls, or live annotation. Recording sessions allows for more flexibility as do podcasts, which are becoming an increasingly popular way of learning. Workshops or boot camps can also be an impactful way for people to learn and network but don’t underestimate the time and effort it can take to create and deliver them.

If you are organising or delivering a live session give plenty of notice and send reminders. Think carefully about the time or day (take into account time zones or national holidays if it is cross-border). If training virtually, ensure that you and/or the speakers are familiar with the technology platform and offer support, guidance or a demo in advance. That said, at some stage everyone experiences technical issues or last minute changes (such as a speaker cancellation) so be prepared for anything!

While this blog focuses on delivering in-person or virtual training, KM professionals play a role in creating precedents, best practice guides, databases etc., which are another essential component of educating people. See our previous blogs for further details.*


With the increase in remote working everyone has been forced to quickly adapt their approach to learning. Now is a great time to assess what worked well and what the future might look like.

Additional Resources to Review: KM for newbies Legal KM in a Time of Coronavirus: Back to BasicsPrecedent Collections

Changing World, Changing Role – The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Marketer (Part 1 – Junior Marketers)

5 Feb

By Rosa Colon, Marketing Technology Manager, Lowenstein Sandler LLP

Photo by Gabriel Santos Fotografia on

Introduction to Upcoming Two-Part Blog Series:
Those entering the marketing profession were taught that developing their talents in creative writing and data analysis would set them on a successful career path. But the savvy among us knows that adapting to the technological changes in how we apply those skills is critical in today’s world. Proficiency in design software along with managing social media accounts and developing strong SEO tactics are becoming the new norms in a marketer’s toolbox. Marketers today must engage in and demonstrate continuous learning.

This two-part series explores the technological know-how needed during the early stage of a junior marketer’s career and than will move into the more advanced skills essential for experienced marketers to grow their personal brand.

Part 1 – Junior Marketers

Life can turn on a dime. There’s been no greater example of this in our lifetime than the experience of this past year. Our lives have been in a seemingly endless spin. Not only have we been faced with an unimaginable health crisis but we also had to quickly pivot in every aspect—work and home. As 2020 progressed, it came as no surprise that technology had taken an even greater foothold across the board in our organizations.

For marketing technologists especially, the past year provided a unique opportunity for our roles within our firms. An opportunity to flex our MarTech muscles. Where previously we might have been mostly in the shadows implementing various tools and platforms; working across departments, managing service providers and integrations, losing sleep over delayed projects / potential blackouts / privacy concerns / advocating for centralized data warehouses with advanced visualization capabilities—the pandemic has placed a spotlight on us, the tools we manage, our roles and our distinct set of skills.

As we begin to emerge from the ashes of the dumpster fire of a year that 2020 was, it’s clearer now more than ever that the role of the marketing technologist is destined for its own dedicated seat at the leadership table and a necessary, integral part of our respective organizations and firms.

No doubt the world is changing at break-neck speeds which means that our roles as marketers and technologists are rapidly evolving, as well. Too often I hear stories of organizations focusing on a specific platform or tool solving all their respective “problems.” From my perspective, being a truly tech-savvy marketer does not rely on any one solution or technology but rather means consistently developing and building upon key fundamental skills and leveraging emerging technologies at each step to solve specific needs and anticipate future use cases.

With that being said, what skills should marketers (especially junior marketers) be nurturing today to ensure they are well prepared for this inevitable leadership role of marketing technologists? I think it’s important to go back to basics and consider the soft and hard skills needed to be agile and adaptable in these roles. Certainly not an exhaustive list however here are 5 fundamental skills every junior marketer and technophile should develop.

Interpersonal communication skills and emotional intelligence
Evaluating, implementing, and managing emerging technologies requires effective communication skills—written, non-verbal, and verbal. Day-to-day you are dealing with vendors, colleagues across departments and your clients. Efficiently providing solutions and tools to your organization means successfully exchanging information with other people. I added emotional intelligence as well because I think it’s incredibly important to understand your clients (in-house and externally) and challenges they face. Leading these conversations with empathy helps everyone and can also help you advocate and persuade, as needed.

Project management skills
Often overlooked, I think project management skills are another key foundational trait of the marketing technologist of tomorrow. Marketing projects can be complex with aggressive deadlines and limited budgets. They require meticulous planning, execution, and performance monitoring. Having a strong knowledge of project management techniques is essential to overall project success.

Strategic decision making skills
Marketing projects, in my personal opinion, should always consider an organization’s long-term strategic and business development goals. It’s extremely easy as a junior marketing technologist to focus on the issue at hand and neglect the bigger picture. Especially if you are not privy to conversations above your pay-grade, so-to-speak. Asking questions is a great and effective way to obtain clarity on projects. That allows you to discern the request and proceed with the best approach. 

Data analysis and manipulation
A marketing technologists’ world is full of data and gaining access to data is only getting easier albeit more difficult to wrangle. Learning and implementing methods of effectively collecting, organizing, and analyzing data is essential to the role. With extremely powerful data visualization tools becoming more and more popular, I fear junior marketers will also miss out on a key rite of passage—learning (and loving) programs like Microsoft Excel.

Development architecture, frameworks and UX design
Implementing a MarTech stack means working with service providers and across departments as stated earlier, most often IT. While it’s not necessary for marketing technologists to be formally trained in these areas, it is necessary to have a general understanding. These groups also have a language of their own. Educating yourself on the language and concepts for web and application development architecture, frameworks, and user experience (UX) design is key to ensuring your MarTech success.

“Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.” – Branch Rickey
I once read that a marketing technologist is a “part doer, and part conductor of an orchestra.” That resonated with me because the visual was so powerful. As a marketing technology manager, I do feel like I’m conducting an orchestral masterpiece!

As awful as this past year has been, I’m hopeful and I do think that marketing technologists have been provided a lucky hand. If we’re intentional and purposeful in the skills we develop, the conversations we take part in, and the strategies we influence we can help elevate not only our organizations but our roles as well.


Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2020: A Bright Spot in a Cruddy Year

8 Jan

Knowledge Management Round-Up for 2020: A Bright Spot in a Cruddy Year

By Gwyneth McAlpine, Director of Knowledge Management Services, Perkins Coie

2020 was rough, and we’re moving on.  But on the bright side, ILTA members created another treasure trove of useful content on knowledge management (KM) topics, the quality of which was particularly good this year.  In case you were distracted at some point in 2020 (and who wasn’t?) and missed some of this excellent material, I have cataloged it below. It can be hard to filter the many recordings and articles produced by ILTA each year to only KM topics.  I generally look for works produced by KM contributors for a KM audience, plus a sprinkling of topics that are interesting to me. 

The range of topics was a little narrower this year than in years past, which I think reflects some convergence in priorities and focus among KMers.  Perhaps also we have also operationalized some aspects of the discipline that we do not need as much peer sharing around those issues.  Or maybe we didn’t have a lot of mental bandwidth beyond our very highest priorities and trickiest business problems.  In any case, if you are looking to explore more about a subject that is not well represented this year, the round-ups from 201920182017 and 2016 will lead you to additional content.  Or search the ILTA archives, particularly for areas that are KM-adjacent.

Here are some themes that struck me as I built this catalog:

  • If 2020 has a winner, it’s podcasts. Easy to produce just the right amount at the right time, easy to take on a walk or fit in between Zoom meetings, they seem to be the perfect medium for learning and staying connected in 2020.  It’s like having a KM friend in your earbuds when you’re stuck at home. 
  • We love innovation. We cannot get enough of innovation. KMers are leading many of the innovation initiatives at their organizations, and it’s clear there is a desire to connect with like-minded colleagues to share ideas and practicalities beyond the hype.
  • 2020 was unusual in that we collectively experienced the same thing at the same time. You can see this general trend (with some exceptions, of course) if you look at the content in chronological order.  We started off the year with enthusiasm for new business problems that KM could solve, then had a sudden and urgent need to share how we were handling the pandemic response.  Things got quiet briefly as KMers were heads down in critical response roles for their firms.  As the workload began to even out, content picked up again with deeper insights into changes brought about by the pandemic, as well as a return to ongoing themes.  We hit another quiet period post-ILTA>On and as we suffered through the 6-month wall  We emerged reenergized, and the focus appears to be back to business-as-usual.

Logistical Notes:
Some of the content is only available to ILTA members, and ILTA>ON session recordings are only available to members who registered for the conference.  Be sure to log in to your ILTA account before clicking on links.  I’ve provided alternate links where the content was posted to additional platforms (e.g. Podbean and the ILTA KM blog).  With the increase in podcasts and micro-learning this year, which can vary widely in length, I included approximate duration in the description.

As in the past, I did not include titles or organizations for the contributors.  There are a lot of new names in the mix.  You can generally find biographical information at the link, or just dive in.  Take a chance that you will learn something new from someone new to you.

Adoption and Outreach:


Artificial Intelligence:

Series: AI Meets KM:

Automation and Workflow:

Corporate and Client Collaboration:

Data Analytics:

Design Thinking:

Electronic Signatures:

Experience Management / Marketing Collaboration:

Information Governance / MS Teams:


Series: Global Legal Innovators:

KM Foundations:

Series: Foundations of KM:

Management / People:

Series: Emerging Roles in Legal:


Enjoy reading, viewing or listening to these contributions.  There are so many reasons to look forward to 2021, including another year of new content and peer sharing.  May 2021 treat you exceptionally well!


Adoption Metrics – Choosing the Tools to Measure Your Intranet KPIs

7 Dec

By Holly Hanna, KM Firm Solutions Manager at Perkins Coie, and Paul Henry, Chief Executive at NGAGE Intelligence

Whether you’re using the Objective & Key Result (OKR) framework, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or some other performance measurement framework, identifying how you will define success is an integral part of proving the value of your program or solution. When rolling out a new solution, or an update to an existing solution, many solution owners focus on user adoption as the key way they will measure the success of their work.

Each application deployed within your firm likely has a different set of adoption metrics. For example, for your Document Management System (DMS), it wouldn’t make sense to look at the total number of users who are accessing it, since usage of the DMS is mandatory in most firms. Instead, you might look at the usage of the Email Filing feature specifically. In the context of an intranet or other portal there will be several stakeholders, each one measuring success in their own ways. For example, a Practice Group Team Site Owner might want to see growth in the number of Content Contributors and Contributions, while the owner of the firmwide intranet is probably looking at growth in the length and depth of site visits. For the Governance Team, it could be all about highlighting Inactive Sites and taking action as needed.

We suggest there are two ‘universal’ KPIs that you will want to be able to report against, whatever your specific change management/adoption challenge: adoption rate and behavior rate. These KPIs define both the target user group and the behavior that you want to change.

The Universal KPIs

The value of any technology investment within an organization is a function of how well and how widely it is adopted by its target user population.

Adoption Rate = #Active Users/#Target User Population

The definition of your target population is hugely important. It might be the entire firm, but it could also be only attorneys, or only junior associates, or only paralegals in a specific practice group. You need to know (and keep track of) the precise size of your target population, so that you can move towards 100% adoption within that population.  

But you can have problems with relying on this KPI in isolation. For example, if someone is automatically logged on to a SharePoint portal every morning they would count as an ‘Active User’ and superficial evidence of ‘adoption’. But if they don’t then otherwise interact during their working day, it’s hardly meaningful.

Behavior Rate = #Behaviors Count/#Active Users

You also need to be counting and seeing growth in the Behavior Rate (average activity levels) of Active Users. Even then you could be measuring high usage of a small number of enthusiastic early adopters, or the less enthusiastic who have no choice. And you might be getting zero or negligible activity among users who do have options and are choosing to stick with their ‘old’ way of doing things. As a result, on its own this, too, can be misleading.

So, while you should be tracking these individual metrics week by week, month by month, the most valuable insight comes from combining these metrics as a definition of ‘Engagement’. Because that’s what defines a successful implementation.

Reporting on KPIs

At Perkins Coie, we use an analytics platform called NGAGE, which allows us to track adoption of our SharePoint portal; it can also be extended to report on virtually any third-party product (e.g. Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Handshake, Confluence, iManage) and home-grown IIS and Angular apps.

NGAGE promotes the notion of continuous improvement rather than hard targets for KPIs. Each KPI visualization displays the value of the described Measure for the selected time period and the % change relative to the value for the immediately prior equivalent period. In this example the Adoption Rate of the target population over the last 30 days had fallen (and hence highlighted in red) by 20% relative to the preceding 30 day period.

As well as a configurable ‘traffic light’ indicator, each KPI visualization is accompanied by a Trend Line representing the daily value of the Measure during the selected period.

The Value of User Segmentation – Measuring Engagement

An enterprise class analytics tool will integrate with Active Directory to maintain a rich model of your organization. You can then use those user attributes to filter the KPIs to the precise Target User Population (i.e., certain departments or practices). The key here is that it should be easy to quickly ‘drill down’ to the user group you’re interested in and report on the underlying metric(s). Reports should also be intuitive and easily understood. These are powerful when used to track a single segment in relation to a single KPI. Even more so when used in combination to compare and contrast multiple segments.

For example, in the Engagement report below, you can filter by Department, Location and/or Job Title and see each segment represented by a ‘bubble’. Its size reflects the size of its population, while its position is a function of both its Adoption Rate and its Behavior Rate. The most engaged segment will tend to the top right-hand corner, while segments where you have low adoption but high activity from a small group of ‘power users’ will tend to the bottom right. The top left-hand corner is where you’ll find segments that are adopting but at minimalist levels of activity.

And note that the bubble report can also be scoped to an important application feature (like the Email Filing example mentioned above) or, in the context of a portal, to understand engagement with Search or a specific Site. In all scenarios this will help you intervene early and accurately where there are the most severe adoption problems. You will be able to measure the effectiveness of those interventions and learn what works. Equally, you can use it to identify the ‘hot spots’ of engagement so you can understand and share their success stories.


Identifying the right metrics to track and measure adoption is a key part of change management success, but in order to do so, you need to have the right tools to accurately measure the targeted behavior. The resulting reports should provide both actionable insight and be easily understood by management as part of the overall change management story while correctly identifying the key components of who, what, where, and when. With a combination of thoughtful KPIs and a user-friendly reporting tool your next change management initiative is sure to be a success.

ILTA Podcast: Emerging Roles in Legal Series – Episode No. 2

18 Sep

By Amy Monaghan, Senior Practice Innovations Manager of Perkins Coie

In our second installment of Emerging Roles in Legal, I speak with members of Orrick’s innovation team. In this “fanel,” we discuss an array of topics, including: what it means to drive change within an organization, how they are working to empower attorneys to practice at the top of their licenses, and the importance of mentorship. You will hear from each Orrick team member about their roles and contributions to Orrick’s innovation initiatives.

What are Firms Doing for Retraining/Upskilling to Accelerate Digital Transformation? ILTA – International Legal Technology Association

We cover a lot in this episode and if you are interested in reading further here are a few applicable resources that might be of interest:

  • Business of Law Podcast: Orrick and Microsoft Legal Productivity Hackers Discuss Innovation and Microsoft Teams here
  • Investing in the future: Harvard grad students discover West Virginia here
  • Extreme Makeover: The Digital Transformation Edition here
  • The Ant and the Grasshopper: Planning Today to Succeed Tomorrow here
  • Legal Innovation: It’s the New Roles that Make the New Tools here
  • For further reading on T-Shaped Lawyers and here
  • Manyee’s ILTAON session on design thinking
  • Kendall’s ILTAON session Virtual Training 1 – Being Prepared to Reach a Remote Audience

ILTA Podcast: Emerging Roles in Legal Series – Episode No. 1

4 Sep

By Amy Monaghan, Senior Practice Innovations Manager of Perkins Coie

I had the great honor of speaking with Jason Barnwell, Assistant General Counsel—Modern Legal at Microsoft for the inaugural episode of the Emerging Roles in Legal podcast series. Jason never fails to provide thought-provoking insights and my personal favorite quote from this episode is that “business presents a candy store of broken things!” Of course, we see the broken things as opportunities for innovation, which is where these new skillsets and emerging roles in legal are needed.

If you’re interested in hearing more from Jason, check out the Business of Law Podcast and also his posts on Legal Evolution. (I recommend this post on designing knowledge work).

I hope you enjoy this episode!  Be on the lookout for the next episode soon.

Change Management Tools for Success – Webinar Recap

11 Aug

time for change sign with led light

By Rachel Shields Williams, Senior Manager, Experience Management of Sidley Austin LLP

ILTA recently hosted a session on “Change Management Tools for Success” with Brianna Leung, Director of Strategy and Marketing of Much Law, and Katie Davis, Senior Staff Training and Development Specialist of Perkins Coie, LLP, and moderated by Rachel Shields Williams, Senior Manager, Experience Management of Sidley Austin LLP. Although the program was not recorded, summarized below are some of the key tools for success that the speakers shared.

Hardest part(s) about influencing change?

Influencing change is hard because it boils down to knowing that people are messy and complicated. That shows up in a couple of ways:

  • Power dynamics and office politics seriously hinder the kinds of real conversations we need when supporting change. If people either don’t feel comfortable with or aren’t given the opportunity to speak up, we’re never going to surface the information we need to successfully move change forward.
  • Our egos get in the way. As leaders of change we forget that we hired really smart people and we think we know better than anyone. When we don’t seek the input from our subject matter experts or don’t trust the guidance and recommendations we receive, the damage is exponential. The “I told you so” costs are not only the damage to the relationship, but they can have a real, multi-million dollar tangible expense.
  • The silos of knowledge. We get so focused on our project, our objectives, our line of sight, and our timelines that we forget to factor in what’s going on around us.

So what tools do we use to combat the messiness and complicated nature of people?

  • Being patient, deliberate, and recognizing that people embrace change on their own timeline – not yours.
  • Recognizing that change requires people to change their mindsets, change their habits and processes, take personal and professional risks, and give up some sense of control and independence while they learn a new way. We have to allow people to adjust, to process, to learn, to fail, to learn some more, and to finally succeed.

What skills do you leverage to create change?

  • Make sure the change you’re striving to manage is actually the right change. The right solution to the problem. Because no matter how well you follow the plan, if it’s the wrong thing to be doing, you’re bound to fail.
  • Who’s not in the conversation or room and should be? Are people engaged and engaged at the right level?
  • People first, process second. Be empathic, listen, communicate, and think about how you would want to be treated if you were on the other side.
  • Actively communicate the vision. Help people understand the big picture and “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) – showing the personal benefits or consequences so that they buy in to what will be required of them to make this change.
  • Reinforcement and continued support. Behaviors change and then week two hits and suddenly people get busy and they can’t remember how to do something and it’s easier to just revert to the old way this one time. And then that one time becomes every time, and before you know it, the initiative fails.

What piece of advice would you tell your past self at the beginning of your career regarding change management?

  • Change fatigue is a real thing. Don’t be tone-deaf to what people are going through.
  • Talk to more people about their approaches to leading change, and less about the specific tactics of change.
  • Learning change is great. But you can follow all of the steps, and if you don’t pay attention to both hearts and minds, you’re likely going to miss the mark.
  • People resist change. Don’t take it personally. But to help them embrace the change, do make it personal for them.
  • When change projects fail, it usually comes from poor communication, generally either omission or inaccuracy of information.
    • Omission – Leadership decided it would be best to not tell some or all people what’s going on, focusing instead on a “need to know” basis. Erring on the side of omission will often backfire because in the absence of information, people create their own narrative. Remember that people need to hear things multiple times and in multiple ways for it to click – one email or one mention in a meeting isn’t enough. Leaders need to be on the same page and communicating throughout.
    • Leadership didn’t tell the truth. The truth will get out, and when it does you will have lost trust and credibility, hurting your current initiative as well as future ones. It’s okay to not have all the answers, just don’t lie. Keep people informed with what you know and commit to updating them when you know more.


Leading Through Change by Brianna Leung

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Any books by John Kotter

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, 12 Powerful Tools For Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams PH.D.

Certification program and methodology from Prosci

Change Models

McKinsey’s Influence Model

ADKAR by ProSci

Kubler-Ross Change Curve

The Rise of Enterprise Social: Talking With Your Colleagues When They’re Across Town, Not Across the Hall

19 Jun


By Holly Hanna, KM Firm Solutions Manager at Perkins Coie

The lack of ability to engage socially with coworkers that you might not interact with face-to-face has not traditionally been seen as a problem to be solved for many law firms and law departments. While firms may have deployed applications like Yammer or Jabber, the purpose behind such tools isn’t primarily seen as facilitating social interaction between employees; rather, social interaction happens as a byproduct of using the tool for work. Think of distribution lists created for employees to share pictures of their cats, or Slack channels devoted to Crossfit. Such employee-created groups happen organically, with little or no organizational support. Such use cases have been viewed by management as, at best, an ‘extra’ and at worst, as a waste of time.

This type of organic usage, when permitted, works well when most employees are coming into the office and interacting with their close colleagues on a daily basis. People talk about their weekend plans, swap recipes, and get restaurant recommendations from their coworkers while grabbing a cup of coffee from the break room or passing one another in the hallway. But when everyone is 100% remote, those social networks begin to fray and employees become disengaged from their colleagues and from the organization as a whole.

Enterprise social tools, when appropriately and thoughtfully deployed, help to fill this gap. Effective social networking applications allow users to search for other users or for content, allow the creation of groups related to common interests, and provide tagging and subscription services.  Successful deployment of an enterprise social application requires engagement from firm management, human resources, knowledge management, information governance, and marketing so that employees understand the ‘rules of the road’, have a clear path of escalation in the instance a coworker posts something insensitive or offensive, and are able to access training materials as needed.

Full-time remote work is a challenge for both employees and firms, but providing tools and resources to facilitate social interaction helps strengthen individual employee bonds and the firm as a whole. Having easy access to like-minded communities of peers and the ability to ask and receive advice and recommendations increases engagement and lessens feelings of isolation brought on by lack of outside interactions. While many social networking tools are cloud-based, and may not be appropriate in a legal setting, on premise solutions such as Ikaun’s Pulse are targeted to law firms and address many of the unique requirements of the legal industry.

We are in a unique moment in our industry. People are social creatures, and need to engage with others to feel satisfied with their work. If law firms and law departments are able to successfully deploy and support enterprise social applications, the result will be an engaged workforce and a stronger firm culture.

Work From Home Policies & Considerations After COVID-19

19 Jun

silver macbook on white table

By Deborah S. Panella, Director of Research & Knowledge Services at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP

Until COVID-19, U.S. law firms and corporate legal departments rarely permitted associates and employees to work from home, even on an occasional basis.  Almost overnight, many people found that they could communicate, collaborate and work productively and effectively from their homes.  Some like it, some do not, but most manage to put in a solid day’s work, even if they have had to acquire new technology skills, juggle family obligations, and put up with makeshift workstations.

As the nation starts to reopen, organizations and individuals are examining when people will return to offices, what that experience will look like, and indeed whether they should consider permanent remote work options.  According to a May 2020 Loeb Leadership study, “67% of respondents report they would like their job to stay remote once it’s safe to return to the office, even if it’s only a few days a week.”  Christine Lamb, a partner at Fortis Law Partners in Denver, advises that HR should start planning now, and “an effective remote work policy should address issues including eligibility, equipment, expenses, safety, security, work hours and communication.”  In addition, maintaining a strong organizational culture may present new challenges, especially if some people are in an office and others are not.

Below is a small selection of free resources centered on working from home that address key questions and concerns. Except for references to national and state-specific laws and regulations, guidance may also be of interest to our colleagues around the globe.

“Do I Have to Return to the Office?”

Can Employees Refuse to Return to Work Because of COVID-19? Ogletree Deakins, May 26, 2020.

The Next Normal: A Littler Insight on Returning to Work – Handling Concerns About Hesitant or “High-Risk” EmployeesLittler Mendelson PC, April 30, 2020.

Consider the Circumstances: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Employees to Return to Work and They Refuse: Blog Labor & Employment InsightsBradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, May 29, 2020.

Don’t Get Cocky: Firms May Not Be Prepared for Long-Term Remote Work., May 7, 2020.

Drafting or Revising a Formal Policy

Work From Home Policy: A Definitive Guide For ManagersVantage Circle, May 19, 2020.

Implementing and Updating Employee Policies for Remote WorkHopkins & Carley, April 20, 2020.

Drafting a Remote Work Policy: 5 Legal Pitfalls to Watch ForHR Morning, March 18, 2020.

5 Steps to Setting Up an Effective Work From Home PolicyThe Timesheets Journal, October 2017.

Employer Risk & Responsibility Checklists

Work-From-Home Legal Issues Checklist: Labor and Employment AlertAkin Gump, March 12, 2020.

COVID-19 – Understanding The Business Risks Associated With Remote Work ArrangementsWindels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP, May 1, 2020.

U.S. Legal Considerations for Remote Work Arrangements in the Wake of COVID-19Debevoise Plimpton, March 17, 2020.

Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus PandemicNational Law Review, March 16, 2020.

Balancing Supervision & Monitoring With An Employee’s Right to Privacy

Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind – Monitoring Workers Working From Home: Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security ReportJackson Lewis PC, April 27, 2020.

Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Workplace Privacy, Data Management & Security ReportJackson Lewis PC, March 16, 2020.

Employee Monitoring During the COVID 19 Lockdown GDPR Considerations RevisitedRopes & Gray, May 4, 2020.

Across the Digital Divide: Managing Remote WorkersAkerman LLP, June 1 2020.

Tax Obligations

Multi-State Payroll Withholding Issues and Potential Relief for Telecommuting Employees.  Ogletree Deakins, May 7, 2020.

Timekeeping, Wage & Hour Laws

WFH is the New Black: Avoiding Wage and Hour Pitfalls as Work From Home Hits the COVID-19 Mainstream. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, March 25, 2020.

Expense Reimbursements

Navigating Expense Reimbursement for “Work From Home” EmployeesMcGuireWoods LLP, March 30, 2020.

Employee Safety, Liability & Insurance

Coronavirus Watch: What Are Employers’ Legal Responsibilities for the Safety of an Employee’s Home Workplace? Ogletree Deakins, March 14, 2020.

Liabilities of Letting Employees Work From Home. The Hartford, [Undated].

 Information Governance, Data Security & Cybersecurity

Working From Home: Information Governance Tips and ConsiderationsBurns & Levinson LLP, April 7, 2020.

Protecting Business Information Assets in the “Work From Home” Environment. Proskauer Rose, May 12, 2020.

Protecting against Cybersecurity Threats when Working from Home. Proskauer Rose, March 11, 2020.

6 Data Security Tips for Working from Home. Thomson Coburn LLP, 2020.

Working From Home Data Security Tips, Part 2Dykema Gossett PLLC, April 17, 2020.

 Attorney-Client Privilege

Practical Tips for Protecting Corporate Attorney-Client Privileges in a Work-From-Home EnvironmentAdams and Reese LLP, March 23 2020.

Restatement to the Rescue: 20-Year-Old Treatise May Help Ease Work-at-Home Privilege Problems.  Holland & Knight, April 3, 2020.

Trade Secrets

Trade Secret Protection and Remote Work: Considerations for EmployersGreenberg Traurig LLP, March 30, 2020.

Keeping Your Trade Secrets “Secret” During a Time of Increased Remote Work Due to COVID-19. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, March 24, 2020.

Protecting Trade Secrets in the New Normal: 10 Questions Companies Need to Address in a Work-From-Home EnvironmentWinston & Strawn LLP, May 20, 2020.

Fostering an Organizational Culture

Remote Teams Can Have Great Culture., [Undated].

How to Grow a Positive Company Culture with a Remote Team6Q, [Undated].

Why Culture is Everything with a Remote Team: What Does Team Culture Mean? Toggl.  [Undated].

Legal KM in a Time of Coronavirus: Back to Basics

2 Apr


By Holly Hanna, KM Firm Solutions Manager at Perkins Coie, and Adam Dedynski, KM Project Manager at Reed Smith

In recent years, legal knowledge management has evolved and matured, with an increased focus on how to leverage advanced technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and bots. However, the basic pillars of KM remain relevant, as has become increasingly apparent during the current coronavirus pandemic. Some key takeaways from this experience include:

Document Sets Still Matter

A foundation of legal KM is the gathering of forms, precedents, and other useful documents into a single location (for example, a dedicated space in your document management system), which KM teams often govern and support. These resources need to be curated by subject matter experts, managed to ensure currency and relevance, and reviewed to ensure that all client confidential data is removed – core KM best practices. Your firm’s internally generated content will generally be more relevant than third party content, especially if the third party content isn’t materially different from what your lawyers are generating in-house.

Following these best practices makes it easy for lawyers to find relevant information to incorporate in their work and provide the best advice efficiently. The coronavirus pandemic has legal implications across and within practices, which may also be of a global nature. Whether your firm is primarily focused on transactions, litigation, or both, the current crisis requires quick access to a large corpus of high-value content. It is now more important than ever to have a robust, clear, and secure mechanism in place to capture, curate, and manage materials to help prevent ‘reinventing the wheel’.

Finding Good Sources (and Making Them Available)

In addition to locating good documentation, in a fast-moving, rapidly unfolding crisis like the current pandemic, it’s important to have a way for everyone to track breaking news. Whether it’s lockdown orders at the municipal, state, or federal level, court status, or legislative updates, having a single location where lawyers can find links to authoritative resources is key. This location can be set up in a variety of ways; you can create a toolkit on an intranet page, set up a distribution list, or create a centralized and easily accessible document setting out key information. Your library and research services team can provide links to third party subscriptions that are tracking breaking developments so that firm resources can be more effectively leveraged in responding to the current situation.

Collaboration is Key

Quickly responding to the information needs of lawyers requires a high degree of collaboration among multiple groups, including legal subject matter experts, library and research services, marketing, IT, and knowledge management. In addition, lawyers, many of whom might have been accustomed to going next door to ask a colleague a question, are now working remotely. Secure online collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Skype chats, or email tools like distribution lists allow lawyers to ask questions, share guidance, and link to resources. These collaboration experiences are vital in a fully virtual work environment. KM can play a key role in proactively advertising, guiding, or helping set up these tools up so they meet the needs of different groups, and also be pivotal in coordinating collaboration.

Relationships, and Experience, Make a Difference

Finding out who knows who, who’s done what, and other questions related to individual lawyers’ backgrounds becomes a much more urgent requirement when people are scrambling to understand how an event like the coronavirus pandemic impacts their customers; this is especially true when people aren’t having the ‘drive by’ conversations that previously happened. In addition, the ability of the KM group to work effectively with multiple stakeholders is dependent on the level of trust that’s been built to date. If your attorneys trust you to steer them towards the best resources, they’re more likely to direct others towards managed repositories. Now is a great time to reinforce those relationship or forge new ones in this remote environment using the tools and technology available. Taking part in conference calls, responding quickly to email requests (even if it’s just a quick note to let people know you’re working on their request), proactively reaching out to key practice groups to offer existing KM solutions, and supporting lawyer interest in developing additional KM resources for their area of law all help build key relationships.

Highlight Your Work

Tools and repositories are only valuable if lawyers know that they exist and can easily find them. Publicize your efforts, make sure that key practices know where to find information and how to submit additional resources or links, and make it easy for those lawyers who haven’t been paying attention to quickly get up to speed. Announcements in firm publications, emails from leadership, and prominent access from your intranet’s home page can all be used to ensure your lawyers are finding and using high value content.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to quick-response, boots on the ground KM work, the fundamentals matter. While advanced KM tools are valuable, and integrating them into a legal KM program is important, the bread and butter of KM revolves around curation, validation, and quick and easy access to high value content. During times of crisis, when the legal situation is evolving rapidly, KM needs to get back to its roots in order to provide effective service.