Real world Knowledge management

The Globe and Mail : Knowledge management crucial tool for law firms is a nice example / case study of how a large law firm is using Knowledge management (really mostly Document Management ). selective quotes :

“When you’re a small group, you know, it’s the water-cooler thing,”

Part of McMillan Binch’s knowledge management program is to discuss major projects when they conclude and record key lessons learned..The information is put into a project summary

“It’s about improving client service”

software usually accounts for about 20 per cent of the total knowledge management costs. Planning and consulting accounts for about another 40 per cent, he says, and the balance goes in internal personnel time, training and maintenance.

To make knowledge management work, a law firm must adapt its structure. Mr. Pery recommends organizing the firm into practice areas, within which most knowledge sharing will take place. For each area, Mr. Pery advises, a major firm should take a qualified lawyer away from billable practice to spend his or her full time as “in a sense, the librarian” for that practice area, overseeing collection and organization of knowledge.

Practising lawyers sit down with members of the knowledge management team at the end of each major project to discuss what information to retain, Mr. Fireman says. This takes 25 to 50 hours of the average lawyer’s time a year, he says.

At McCarthy, there was “a period of about 18 months that I would sort of call the period of faith,” Mr. Peters says. During that time, adding documents and other information to the firm’s new knowledge management system took up lawyers’ time, but the knowledge base was not yet large enough to give them much in return. “That’s probably the most difficult period.”

Now, lawyers are seeing how knowledge management can help them serve clients better. “It’s going to be the distinguishing factor between firms,” he predicts.

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