Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to Populate Knowledge Management Repositories

16 Sep

abstract blackboard bulb chalk

By Gwyn McAlpine, Knowledge Management Director at Perkins Coie LLP

Among the Knowledge Management (KM) community, one question we commonly hear is this: “How can I use artificial intelligence (AI) to populate KM repositories?”  I have good news and less good news.  There are pockets of success out there, but you need to be realistic about what AI excels at today.

The Problem

KM can involve significant manual effort that entails subject matter expert involvement.  Developing forms banks, practice-specific content, and matter and experience databases requires someone familiar with the area of law to parse through documents and matter information to identify standard practices and relevant data points.  Because our subject matter experts are often timekeepers or otherwise have limited bandwidth, initiatives that require their input can often stall.

Not surprisingly, as technology advances, inquiring minds want to know if AI can replace some of this manual effort.  The nirvana that many want to attain is for technology to successfully analyze piles of documents and data to build gold standard documents and provide insights into our matters and people.  Complete nirvana is still a dream—or at least a lot more work than we imagine it to be.  Nonetheless, creative KM professionals are coming up with ways to use today’s technology to augment the work of the KM team for the benefit of the practices.  Note that this post is not discussing attorneys using AI to supplement their client work, for example, to aid in research and document review (technologies that KM may manage), but rather KM professionals or attorneys using AI to supplement their work in developing KM content.

Today’s Successes

At ILTACON 2019 in August, a fantastic panel presented on “AI-Powered Knowledge Management,” which directly addressed this question.  Click here to listen to the recording.  If you are interested in this topic, it is well worth an hour of your time.  You can also read a recap of this session from the Legal Executive Institute here.

The four panelists presented on efforts at their firms to use AI to further KM projects.  A common thread among their projects is that they are all using AI technologies to extract data and clauses from final documents with software often used for contract analytics, such as ContraxSuite, Kira or iManage RAVN Extract, which then populates a database for easy reference and/or further analysis.  Stated differently, the panelists are applying the technology to unstructured documents and pulling structured data points, such as dates, amounts, and specific clauses, from them into a database.  Use cases were largely around collecting data from transaction documents for two main purposes: (i) to get a big picture of trends and (ii) to be able to find a matter in which a specific set of circumstances occurred.

Interestingly, most of these projects are still in pilot or limited production, validating that these types of use cases are still relatively new.  A KM peer I interviewed for this blog post noted that the relevant technologies have been used by law firms for only a few years, and the early days were likely spent on rolling them out for their core purpose, typically contract review for due diligence.  Firms may only recently be exploring other applications for these technologies.

The panelists were united in their lessons learned.  These projects require investment—from up-front project design and model training, to subject matter expert validation, augmentation, and analysis of results.  Like with many other applications of AI, technology is streamlining the work, but not replacing it.  Someone must dedicate time to and prioritize the effort.  But once you get started and become more familiar with the capabilities of AI, you will think of more use cases that leverage the ability to extract data points.  Extracting data alone is useful, but coupled with metadata tagging and data visualization tools, such as Power BI, it can drive powerful insights—and attorneys get very excited about these insights.

Tomorrow’s Hope

My nirvana state of using AI to build gold standard documents is not quite there yet—at least, not at a level of accessibility to apply broadly.  If you have a very specific use case and the volume to justify the work, you can combine professional services, technology, and a lot of elbow grease to achieve this goal.  But for most use cases, the level of investment required today may be too great for the payoff.

However, if we focus on using AI to supplement and streamline steps in the process, rather than rely on it to achieve the end goal, it is clear that AI can contribute toward document repositories as well as databases of information.  One way to employ AI to create KM document collections is to use contract analytics software to isolate provisions in work product that require redacting, so you can add sanitized precedents to your forms bank.  Another is to extract similar clauses across sets of documents to speed up the work in analyzing standard, alternate, and nonstandard language.  The challenge here is crafting a human-technology partnership that leverages the abilities of each in an efficient manner.

Technology is changing rapidly and may lead to different possibilities within the next few years.  In the meantime, though, AI can be used to further KM projects provided that you set realistic expectations and design your project to take advantage of its current capabilities.

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What are the Best Ways to Drive Adoption and Reduce the Risk of Resistance to Change?

25 Jul

orange and and brown chess pieces

By Sharon Ford, Technology Education Specialist at Perkins Coie

There are many interesting changes in the Knowledge Management (KM) area including AI and machine learning, chatbots, automation and more.  Many of these initiatives involve technology changes, but they also result in process changes including how people work, and they may evoke emotions including concerns about job security.  Regardless of the type of change, one thing you need to keep in mind is organizations don’t change; people do. If individuals need to change, then there needs to be a focus on people when initiatives are implemented and that is where change management comes in.

Whether a change being implemented is defined as a KM change or any other change, I encourage you to evaluate every project you are implementing with a change management lens.  How can you do that? While this is not an official change management model, I’m going to leverage something you probably learned back in grade school – the Five Ws. The Five Ws (sometimes referred to as Five Ws and How) are questions to be answered for basic information gathering or problem solving.  They are often mentioned in journalism and research, and they comprise a formula for getting the complete story on a topic.

The 5W example can be applied to provide a change management lens for your projects including:

1) What’s the Why?

2) Who’s your Sponsor?

3) Who is impacted?  And, what is the impact?

4) How will you engage stakeholders? And, where can they find more information?

5) When and how will you measure adoption?

Below is a brief overview of each.

What’s the Why?

The Why or the Vision should identify how this change makes your organization competitive and should explain the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) for different stakeholder groups.  It should include why the change is happening and the risk of not changing. Whenever possible, tell the why in a story to allow people to connect to the vision not only with their heads but also with their hearts.

Who’s Your Sponsor?

Prosci has conducted multiple studies on successful change efforts and found the most important factor for success is sponsorship.  A Sponsor should remain active and visible throughout the life of the project, not just identify the need for change then announce it and walk away.  Often, the Sponsor comes from the organization that is causing a change, but a project will be more successful if leaders from the impacted areas are engaged and show visible support for the effort.  Part of the change management activities should include providing a roadmap for the Sponsor(s), so they know the activities and the commitment required.

Who is Impacted?  And, What is the Impact?

People typically identify stakeholders by role, but you should also consider other aspects, for example, their typical workflow, their current frustrations, and their usage of a mobile device.  These and other factors influence the level of impact. Personas, which are often used for marketing purposes, can also be created as part of stakeholder identification for a project to capture the different needs and expectations of various stakeholder groups.

How Will You Engage Your Stakeholders?

A quick and easy answer is to engage them early and often.  You may have heard of the “Rule of 7,” a marketing principle that states prospects need to come across an offer at least seven times before they really notice it and start to act.  That is a good rule for stakeholder engagement as well. Also, ensure the communications for a project incorporate the listening side (e.g., meetings, surveys, an email address or a project page where people can provide input, ask questions and get more information).  Remember the perception of a change can differ by stakeholder group, even by individual, so to help reduce resistance, you need to listen to concerns and feedback. You should also consider creating a Change Agent Network for your project. Change Agents are early adopters who receive training and advance details on the initiative, so they can proactively engage others, assist with adoption and help to reduce resistance.

A term that is gaining some traction is change engagement instead of change management.  Wouldn’t you rather be engaged than managed?

When and How Will You Measure Adoption?

Remember the quote from Peter Drucker, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”  Understanding adoption behavior is helpful in identifying whether a change is providing value.  Identifying adoption metrics has its own subset of the Five W’s. You need to think through what to measure, when to measure, how to measure and who should measure.  When you are identifying and tracking metrics, think of adoption as a phase reported over time rather than a single event.

Keep in mind that people know how to do their jobs the current way.  Even if the current way is cumbersome and inefficient, it’s comfortable.  Thinking through the Five W’s can help you focus your change management lens and guide people through their concerns and resistance.

It is also important to note that people often fear change because they fear failure or criticism.  Building a culture where people are willing to risk failure in order to change and grow is also a major factor in successfully implementing change – perhaps a topic for future blog.

2019 ILTACON – Session Highlights for Knowledge Management Professionals

18 Jul

ILTACON2019

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

If you haven’t already figured out why ILTACON 2019 is so important to Knowledge Management professionals, check out the below! There are a number of reasons you should register and join all your ILTA colleagues in Orlando.

ILTACON is the organization’s premier event for peer-driven educational programming, with advanced content offered in a variety of formats to suit every learning style. The exhibit hall is packed with business partners ready to show you their products and services in a friendly and low pressure environment. And numerous networking opportunities are provided so that you can meet and talk to speakers, other attendees and exhibitors throughout the week, including several times carved out specifically to gather with KM colleagues.

New this year, Filament is helping ILTA design three collaboration sessions, each with an expert facilitator, to deliver an interactive and action-oriented experience.  Sunday’s theme is “engage and plan,” Tuesday’s is “understand and ideate,” and Thursday’s will be “decide and activate.”  This winning combination ensures that you will bring actionable knowledge back to your employer in the form of case studies, best practices, insights and strategies, along with connections to people who share your goals and challenges.

Below is a small sampling of the many KM-specific educational sessions to consider, but there is clearly no shortage of relevant and timely related programming. For KM professionals, one key benefit of ILTACON is that you are certain to meet professionals with complementary skills and experiences that go beyond pure KM. Their perspectives will help you broaden your knowledge of the legal industry and the tools, technologies and practices used by related disciplines such as legal project management, marketing & business development, financial planning and analysis, learning and development, and litigation & practice support.  For that reason, we urge you to consider all sessions, not just the ones listed below.

KM Strategy, Leadership, and Professional Development – Including Ways to Foster and Embrace Innovation

KM Tech Tools: Document Assembly & Document Automation; Enterprise Search, Experience Management, Extranets, Intranets & Portals

Thank you to all the volunteers from the KM & Marketing CCT and ILTACON Team Coordinators who helped create this resource. We hope their hard work can be of value to many.

The Geography of Legal Innovation – Firms, People, Tech

14 Jun

Image by nugroho dwi hartawan from PixabayBy Gordon Vala-WebbBuilding Smarter Organizations

I was recently talking with Professor Dan Linna at Northwestern about his very provocative Legal Services Innovation Index. It is a “pilot project to create an index of legal-service delivery innovation” using “indicators of innovation on [260] law firm websites” (pulled using Google Advanced Search against those firms’ websites organised into categories and jurisdictions). It consists of both a catalogue of innovative offerings and an “Index” of innovation.

It made me wonder if this Index for firms matched two other possible indicators of innovation in the legal services / law practices industries across eight key jurisdictions (United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, and Canada):

Warnings

First, some apples-to-oranges caveats:

Apples and oranges on opposite ends of weigh scale Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
  • The time series don’t line up (the Innovation Index was done last year; Chin’s numbers are from February 2018; and my LinkedIn search was done just now)
  • The Innovation Index includes things like AFAs as an “innovation” (which may not map well to whether firms have an “Innovation” person or not)
  • LinkedIn’s “Law Practice” and “Legal Services” industries include people who are not with law firms; and, obviously, some people are almost certainly doing some innovation (maybe even a lot) without having it in their LinkedIn job title
  • Firms might have innovation people located in other jurisdictions (e.g. India) which wouldn’t be counted; and LinkedIn is not as widely used in certain jurisdictions (it is available, for example, in China – 50 million users – but is not as ubiquitous as in the US – 160 million).

However, I think the results are interesting – and possibly indicative of some intriguing patterns.

Firms are All Talk and No Action?

There is likely no surprise here for anyone seriously paying attention but there seems to be a mismatch between the Innovation Index – firms TALKING about innovative things on their website – and organisations having people to DO innovation. The correlation between the two (for the selected jurisdictions) is only 0.38.

A kinder explanation might be that, since the Innovation Index includes alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), the correlation would improve if we included job titles with “Pricing” or “AFA” or “Feedback” in them (click here for that LinkedIn list). I suspect the answer is a combination of both of these (look for my upcoming post on that).

High Correlation Between Titles and Tech Firms

Dart in center of target Image by Deedster from Pixabay

There is an extraordinary level of correlation – 0.93 (or near perfect!) – between the number of people with “innovation” in their titles in a jurisdiction and the number of legal tech firms in that country.

Of course correlation is never causation; I suspect that the causal arrow for both is coming from two sources:

  1. The growing willingness of clients to use their increasing legal-services purchasing power (pushing firms to make changes)
  2. The larger size and and greater operational sophistication of legal departments (whereby they become customers for the direct purchase of technology).

CLOC’s extraordinary growth – and the plethora of firms and tech companies attending their latest conference – is a telling example of both these phenomena.

Is China a Legal Innovation Leader?

The Innovation Index gives Chinese firms a score of 666.3 – which is almost as high as the US firms (at 671.7). But, looking at the other data sets, there are only two people in China with “innovation” in their titles and only one legal tech firm.

One explanation of that high Index score came to me from Norm Letalik, an immensely experienced law firm leader, who reminded me of how competitive the Chinese legal market is. This pressure comes not just from lawyers but other forms of legal services providers:

“the exclusivity enjoyed by legal professionals [in China], and the precise scope of activities to which it applies, are becoming unclear; and the existing regulations may face the risk of being circumvented”

Source: Jing Li, “The Legal Profession of China in a Globalized World,” International Journal of the Legal Profession

As to the very few people who have “innovation” titles, LinkedIn has struggled to get traction there (as has every Western company). Perhaps it is also that firms in China are “post-innovative” – with everyone doing it but no one having the title? Or perhaps the function is called something else?

And, seemingly, Stanford Law’s CodeX Techindex is significantly underestimating tech firms outside of North America such as those in China (one?!) and in the UK (see following section).

The United – Legal Tech – Kingdom!?

UK firms get an Innovation Index more than three times the US’ (and China’s) with a score of 2,068! And they have the highest ratio of “innovation” titles to any jurisdiction’s population (i.e. 2.35 to US’ 1.1). That would make the country the United – Legal Tech – Kingdom!

The UK legal market was early into privatization deals, and with London’s financial markets, has seen a lot of multi-jurisdictional work with high fee structures. That gave – at least the big firms there – the size and margins to help with the early adoption of innovative approaches. Potentially that early innovation lift was enhanced by the UK legal services market becoming open to alternative business structures (which provided at least a psychologically impetus for innovation if not also actual market pressure).

It also seems anomalous that the UK is reported to have less than one-tenth the number of legal tech firms as compared to the US (35 to 460 respectively); again, it seems (like China) that their legal tech firms are being under counted in the Techindex.

US Legal Tech is HUGE

Whatever the real count of legal tech firms, there is no doubt that the number of legal tech firms in the US is huge – 460. Canada is next largest at 52 (with UK in third place trailing – as noted above – at 35 tech firms). Whether it is the sheer size of the US tech capital markets, their effectiveness, or something in the water – whatever it is, it is working to generate lots and lots of legal tech.

Canada and Australia – Punching Above Their Weight?

Kangaroo Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Canada and Australia are pretty small jurisdictions relative to the US; but in both cases they seem to be punching above their weight:

  • Both have more people with innovation titles than you would expect relative to the US population (Australia has three times the number; and Canada almost twice the number)
  • Canada more than matches the US in the number of expected (i.e. adjusted for relative population size) legal tech firms; Australia trails with just half the number expected – perhaps more under-counting of tech firms outside of North America?

Of course Australia has pioneered alternative business structures for legal service delivery (click here for more) so perhaps their innovation (relative) people lead is not surprising. What might explain Canada’s legal tech strength? Could the world’s first legal tech incubator – Ryerson’s Legal Innovation Zone – be part of the explanation?

Change Over Time?

The most interesting question might one that cannot be answered right now: Is the rate of innovation accelerating? (And, if so, are the rates different for different countries?) We simply don’t have the time-series data that we would need to do that analysis.

Final Questions

  • What is happening in China in legal tech? Are there implications here for the rest of the world?
  • Should Americans pay more attention to legal tech developments in the UK (and also Australia and Canada)?
  • Could running the LinkedIn job title searches every six months provide a simple but effective innovation “velocity” metric?
  • What would it take to encourage Prof. Linna to revisit his Innovation Index? And let us all help CodeX LegalTech to build a more complete list (anyone can submit a legal technology company for inclusion).

Note: To see the raw calculations in Excel just send me your email address.

Proposal Generation: Part of a Complete Marketing and Knowledge Management Solution

25 Apr

By Barry Solomon, Executive Vice President at Foundation Software Group 

When the marketing team is struggling under the weight of responding to RFP after RFP, it’s tempting to narrow your focus and look for a slimmed down, silver bullet application for generating pitches and proposals. However, firms that take the time to research their alternatives inevitably find they need a more robust solution that includes easy access to comprehensive experience, expertise, and client information.

That’s exactly what happened when I was CMO at Sidley Austin LLP. What started as a search for a proposal generation solution, resulted in the seeds of Foundation Software Group’s Firm Intelligence platform. Why? Because we found that what we needed as much or more than the proposal generation itself was easy access to all the experience and knowledge we had amassed at Sidley to materially differentiate our firm between the cover page and summary.

It also turns out that the data that sets your pitches, proposals, and awards and rankings submissions apart has a significant overlap with the information the Knowledge Management team is interested in compiling, indexing, and leveraging.

While KM might use this data to feed strategic decision making, locate firm expertise, manage experiences, find relevant matters to support pricing analysis, or make enterprise search more efficient and effective, Marketing can also leverage the data to help integrate lateral hires, identify cross selling opportunities, and drive client development efforts, in addition to generating those proposals.

View the recent ILTA webinar entitled, The Latest in Pitch Generation, where I talk about how and why taking a holistic approach to knowledge management and business development solutions can ultimately result in not only better proposals, but also improve the business and practice of law at your firm as well.

Building Better Bridges: 12 Ways Knowledge Management and Library Teams Can Leverage Marketing and Business Development

19 Mar

orange and white bridgeBy Rachel Shields Williams, Senior Manager, Experience Management, at Sidley Austin

When people think of the marketing department in a law firm, they often think of events and client gifts. But in reality, it’s a team of people who often have MBAs, master’s degrees in communications, and similar advanced degrees working to move the firm’s strategic plans forward—and they’re often an untapped resource for the knowledge management (KM) and library services teams.

Gone are the days that the marketing department planned your parties and ordered conference swag. These functions still happen, but they’re driven by data and measured against targets. Now marketing staff also coach the firm’s lawyers on how to win and develop business in a systematic and repeatable fashion, help shape firm priorities with data-based decisions and insights, and lead major changes in how lawyers communicate—customer relationship management (CRM), anyone?

But how can they help KM professionals? In many ways, depending on the skill sets in your marketing team. Below are just a few suggestions of how you can take advantage of the skill set and expertise within your marketing departments.

1. Skills Coaching and Training Opportunities

Practicing lawyers get conflicted out of training all the time, and the marketing team is often tasked with filling those seats. So, if you’re looking to polish your persuasion skills or other professional skills, talk to marketing. They’re the subject-matter experts on communicating and building relationships and are often aware of firm resources that you can leverage to build your next pitch for a new idea.  Consider asking marketing to help you craft better elevator pitches and perfect your presentations.

2. Practice Group Strategy and Priorities

The marketing team has a front-row seat for a practice’s priorities. Here’s a sampling of what they know:

  • what industries they’re pitching and winning business from;
  • what questions clients are asking;
  • what trends they’re seeing from competitors;
  • whether the practice is focused on developing new business or on raising its image in a market;
  • where they decided to focus the budget this year, whether it’s attending a conference or traveling to visit clients; and
  • much more.

Reach out to marketing to get a better understanding of what the priorities are at the personal and practice level so that you can tailor research or select and promote resources more effectively.

3. Strategy

Not only does the marketing team help execute the practice’s or the firm’s business development strategies, but it also crafts those strategies. Today’s marketing department is skilled at facilitating strategic plans at the firm, practice, and individual level. Your firm’s marketers can share these best practices and help your department design tactics that are measurable and actionable. You can set the right priorities for your department, and are more likely to get purchase approval if you can show how a big project or resource fits into the practice or firm strategy.

4. Relationships

Marketing typically works very closely with lawyers on a variety of projects near and dear to them. Given this close working relationship, the marketing team is well positioned to share subtler details about the lawyers it’s interacted with. For example, marketers often know whether a lawyer prefers morning meetings or likes to leave by 4 pm to have dinner with their family. Marketing also plays the role of a listening ear when collaborating with and coaching lawyers, and those conversations give marketing teams valuable perception of lawyers’ needs and wants as well. Knowing how and when to reach out to a partner may expedite the approval or adoption process for new tools and services.

5. Clients

We’re the keepers of client feedback, both formal and informal. Marketing professionals run formal client feedback programs, and from those insights, we help develop and execute key client programs, including retention and growth plans. Additionally, we gather informal information by holding debriefs with clients when we do and don’t win business to understand what worked and what didn’t; we also collect data as we work with them on award submissions and charitable events. Because of these collaborative activities, marketing builds relationships with all types of people within clients.  A KM department, for example, may be able to offer client-facing solutions if they are better aware of client needs.

6. Communication

When you’re rolling out a new technology or an upgrade to a system, talk to your marketing department. By the nature of our jobs, we stay up-to-date on the best way to raise awareness, we create targeted and meaningful messaging that drives behavior, and we know how to communicate these changes effectively. Do you need an FAQ, a step-by-step guide, or an email campaign? Do you know who is best to deliver the messaging? Do you need different messages for different users? Or perhaps this is a major incentive that needs branding and collateral. Call your marketing department and leverage the subject-matter experts.

7. Digital Marketing

Are you trying to raise your department’s profile in the industry or write a blog post? Talk to your digital communication team for the best tips on writing content for a blog vs. posting on LinkedIn vs. trying to write an article for a third-party publication. They’re also a great resource for tips on crafting your LinkedIn profile so it positions you as a leader in your space.

8. Promotion

Are you designing cutting-edge solutions that are solving clients’ problems? Talk to marketing about how to promote this work in your firm so you can replicate it for other clients. And make sure your marketing team shares the potential benefits of your work with prospective clients via pitches, RFPs, rankings and awards, and other communications. KM and Library professionals bring valuable skills and resources to the firm, and many clients are unaware of the cost savings, efficiencies and other benefits they provide.

9. Surveys

The marketing department sends a lot of surveys to internal and external clients on a variety of topics, including feedback on educational programs, client satisfaction, content, and the like. They’re skilled in how to ask and design questions that solicit meaningful and actionable feedback from respondents.

10. Laterals

Marketing is the welcoming committee for new laterals. We help integrate them and their clients into the firm and their new practices. We also play matchmaker with other lawyers across the firm to help grow the bottom line. During this time, we get great insight into their old firm and how it did things, what they miss, and why they decided to make the switch.

11. Expertise Identification

Marketing often keeps or creates representative deal lists, lawyer biographies, and is responsible for CRM systems.  When KM or Library needs to find an internal expert, Marketing may be able to suggest people best suited to evaluate a new library database, profile a deal or document for a KM repository, or just explain a particular legal concept in a pinch.

12. Branding

Branding is key to promoting new ideas. So, when you want to use the firm logo or branding, check in with marketing. They know the latest legal advertising rules and firm policies around when, where, and how you can promote the firm or how others can promote their relationships with the firm. Internally, they can help design custom logos, signature lines or tag lines to brand your department or products.

BONUS – Change Management

When marketing teams succeed, they’re winning the hearts and minds of people, getting them to do something that they would not have done in the normal course of things. And what is change management but a battle to convince the hearts and minds of lawyers to do something different? It could be a new way of communicating with clients, implementing new programs like client feedback, or embracing a new technology like CRM systems. So, collaborating with your marketing team on new releases could lead to faster implementation and adoption.

These are just a few recommendations of new ways that you can work with your marketing departments. Just remember that we’re all on the same team, so we should take advantage of each other’s special skill sets.

We also encourage you to read the fantastic blog entitled 12 Ways Marketing & Business Development Can Leverage Library & Knowledge Management Teams.”

12 Ways Marketing & Business Development Can Leverage Library & Knowledge Management Teams

5 Feb

By Heather Ritchie, Chief Knowledge and Business Development Officer at Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP

In many law firms, the Marketing and Business Development teams (MBD) are experiencing growing demand for their services. While that speaks to the visibility and value placed upon these professionals, it can result in long hours and additional stress on the department. As a way to alleviate some of the time and resource pressures, MBD teams have been turning increasingly to, and partnering with, Library and Knowledge Management (KM) teams for research, data and other support. After consulting some colleagues from the U.S. and Canada, we have identified a number of ways that firms might maximize the value of this cross-team collaboration.

Leveraging Library Professionals

Among the many skills that librarians bring to the table is their ability to perform research, and to organize resources and content in the best way for people to easily locate and consume it.

1. Research. Not only do librarians conduct research related to the practice of law, they also can perform research related to the business of law. Researchers are well-versed in the best sources for company and industry data, biographical information, deal runs, analyst reports, and all sorts of advanced research, to assist with pitching and prospecting. They know the most authoritative and cost-effective sources, and are experts at crafting search strategies.

2. News. In addition to on-demand news research, many libraries also administer news services to watch current and potential clients, executive moves, new litigation, industry trends and more. The Library can also set up real-time alerts on the firm and its clients to ensure that MBD is alerted immediately when an announced deal, litigation settlement, or other event hits the news or web. They can also tailor watches to surface an endless variety of special events that may trigger work opportunities for the firm.

3. Visibility Opportunities. The Library can also help identify writing, speaking and sponsorship opportunities. Through their research, Librarians may be suggest which publications and conferences are most respected and reach the widest appropriate audience. Once an opportunity is defined, research librarians may assist in finding industry, economic and legal trends suitable for articles, events and session topics.

4. Copyright Compliance. The Library often serves as copyright compliance administrators, ensuring that the firm has the appropriate licensing permission to use third-party content. Navigating the complexities and challenges around fair use of text, graphics and media can and should be handled centrally, where streamlined processes and thorough record-keeping can be key. Several libraries also use plagiarism detection software to catch inadvertent misuse of intellectual property.

5. Resource Management. As library professionals are well-versed in managing large and diverse materials, the Library may be able to save MBD time and money by:

  • Having the Library purchase reports, articles and subscriptions not only alleviates the clerical burden from MBD, but also may result in savings since libraries may have discount programs such as free shipping, bulk download discounts, preferred vendor contracts, and free or low-cost inter-library loan contacts;
  • Ensuring that each group has the necessary resources at the best price and with the best terms, without duplication, since the departments often need access to the same or similar digital resources; and
  • Leveraging library directors’ experience with evaluating, selecting and negotiating complex database contracts and licenses for electronic resources, in resource negotiations

6. Competitive Intelligence (CI) and Data Analytics. If there are CI specialists in MBD, they might partner with the Library for research assistance. For the majority of firms without any or enough CI professionals, the Library might be tapped to collect benchmarking data, watch for law firm and industry trends, and provide summaries.

Leveraging Knowledge Management Professionals

Given their legal background, KM or professional support lawyers within firms can be used as a proxy for lawyers on MBD projects and can provide MBD with certain information they require, saving lawyer time and allowing the lawyers to focus on client activity. KM professionals from other disciplines can also provide a range of support.

7. Expert/Expertise Identification and Management. Whether MBD needs to field a team for an RFP Response, recruit an author for a publication or propose a speaker for a conference, MBD might enlist KM’s assistance to identify the appropriate subject matter expert(s). If the KMers are embedded in practice groups, they often have a good sense of the lawyers with expertise in a particular area. KM lawyers can offer (candid) suggestions as to whom might be appropriate for the particular initiative, avoiding the need to send out the firm-wide email or troubling a practice group leader.

In some firms, KM may be responsible for developing and managing systems and tools which can help identify experts or experience (e.g. expertise location systems, enterprise search systems, or work product retrieval tools). MBD may ask KM to use the system to locate the experts, or to provide MBD with documentation and training on the system’s effective use. If the firm is looking to develop an expertise location system or experience management database, the KM and MBD teams should collaborate so that the solution achieves both groups’ goals, rather than having separate systems.

8. RFP Responses. In the not so distant past, the role of KM in RFPs was typically limited to reviewing the one to two paragraphs relating to the KM capabilities of the firm. Assuming capacity, KM professionals can bring additional value to the equation by potentially:

  • helping MBD develop draft work plans, if requested in the RFP;
  • responding to an increasing number of questions regarding the firm’s approach to matter management, legal project management, efficiency, and process improvement;
  • reviewing practice area and work descriptions; and
  • suggesting solutions that respond to client pain points (e.g. dashboard, portals etc.), given their knowledge of the firm’s tools and capabilities.

9. Matter Profiling/Identification. To respond quickly and efficiently to RFP Responses, league tables and directory submissions, MBD needs to be able to easily locate relevant work experience. MBD might enlist the KM team’s assistance with pinpointing responsive matters, drafting brief matter descriptions and populating some of the data points around the matter in any experience database. If the KM lawyers conduct matter debriefs, MBD can bolt onto that process and ask the KMers to capture salient marketing information at the same time so the lawyers aren’t being asked repeatedly for the same information by different people.

10. Information Architecture/Taxonomy Development. As many KM professionals are skilled in taxonomy development and the organization of information, KM might help MBD in developing a sustainable folder structure and metadata for storing, capturing and leveraging MBD information including proposals and collateral. For firms redoing their websites, KM and MBD might collaborate on creating the information architecture for the site – leveraging the KMs knowledge of the firm’s different practice areas. To the extent that the firm’s external and internal grouping may differ or have changed, KM might be recruited to develop a concordance or help with retagging or classifying content in accordance with the new taxonomy.

11. Events and Client Communication Support. For MBD charged with delivering continuing legal education events, KM lawyers can help MBD with its goal of delivering the best possible client experience. Since KMers are often responsible for monitoring developments in the law and the practice, they can be a source of topics for events. They might suggest agenda items, speakers, learning objectives and materials that can be leveraged or developed. KM lawyers can also serve as quality control – reviewing slides and takeaways. Likewise on the communications front, KM lawyers can suggest topics, and draft or review communications for marketing e-communications in accordance with firm standards.

12. Process Improvement. An increasing number of KM professionals are becoming skilled in lean and six sigma methodologies and techniques. If MBD does not have this skill set on their team, KM may be able to assist MBD in improving their own processes – leading the MBD department through a process mapping exercise in order to document the current state, identify inefficiencies and develop a new, better process (including defined roles & responsibilities, milestones and deliverables.) Or KM might facilitate a design thinking workshop with a view to helping MBD tackle a problem and develop an innovative solution.

Reciprocity

Of course, the MBD teams can also provide support and services back to their fellow professional departments. Stay tuned for an upcoming installment of the ILTA KM Blog which will address the ways that MBD can help the library and KM departments.

You are encouraged to also read the fantastic blog entitled “Building Better Bridges: 12 Ways Knowledge Management and Library Teams Can Leverage Marketing and Business Development.”