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Making Knowledge Management Work for Lawyers | Profile Magazine

Matthew Martin
Marketing Manager

The Firm Directory team would like to congratulate Meredith Williams for her feature in the Profile Magazine article: “Why Knowledge is Power for Lawyers”. It is a great profile and a fantastic read for business leaders on the value of knowledge management. An excerpt of the article is included below:

The [knowledge management] department grew and evolved into a full administrative area for the firm. KM “connects the right people with the right information and technology at the right time,” Williams explains. What that means in a law firm is analyzing and organizing information and making sure the people who need it can easily access it. “It also means breaking down the legal functions so we understand what is required to do the job efficiently,” she says.

“YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND HOW A LAW FIRM WORKS BEFORE YOU CAN IMPROVE THE PROCESSES.”

As the firm’s chief knowledge management officer, Williams oversees a staff of nine, most of whom are attorneys or have worked within the practice of law. She prefers that they stay active in their practice areas so they stay up to date on the issues and know how best to manage projects and draft procedures. “You have to understand how a law firm works before you can improve the processes,” she explains.

The KM department works with other groups within the firm and several strategic external partners—including WinWire Technologies, Handshake Software, Neudesic, and Fireman & Company—to deliver high-value systems and information to the firm and its clients.

Williams says the department also calls on some individual lawyers in the firm for specific advice. However, some balk when asked to do work that is not billable. To address this, the firm launched an internal venture fund program. “It enables us to pay our lawyers 100 percent working-attorney credit for the time they spend on KM projects,” she explains. The KM department handled ninety-three projects in 2016, utilizing the services of 110 subject-matter experts throughout the firm. “We would not have been able to accomplish that much if it had just been me and the full-time staff,” she says.

“WE HAVE TO PREDICT THE INFORMATION WE ARE GOING TO WANT TWO OR THREE YEARS OUT AND BUILD OUR STRATEGIES AROUND THAT.”

As far as Williams knows, Baker Donelson is the only firm paying its lawyers in this fashion to help with KM projects. “I’m often told I am the envy of many industry colleagues,” she says. “Of course, some firms have larger KM departments, with as many as one hundred lawyers from lots of different practice areas. That is one way to get around having to pay your practicing attorneys.”

While some might think technology would make KM easier, Williams says it has actually increased expectations. “We are expected to know everything about every matter, whether it is an opposing counsel’s actions or a specific judge’s previous rulings,” she explains. “It is all discoverable now, so we need to have it if an attorney needs it.”

Technology also accelerates the development cycle. “We have to predict the information we are going to want two or three years out and build our strategies around that,” Williams says. “We have to stay focused on the information that will be most helpful and not get distracted by the speed of technological change or the latest gadgets.”

Click here read the PROFILE Magazine article in its entirety.

Key Features

Ikaun was built to help organizations easily create, discover, and use knowledge to enhance employee productivity and increase business outcomes.

Experience Finder

Experience Finder

Leverage your organization's collective experience for better decision making; easily search for internal experts by skill sets, industry expertise, and more.

AI-Enhanced Search

AI-Enhanced Search

Ikaun’s Intelligent-Knowledge-Assistant searches through your ikaun environment and other connected systems to help answer FAQs, find people, find assets, or support complex research scenarios.

Profiles

Profiles

Create easy-to-read profiles that include biography, skills / expertise, employment history, certifications, affiliations and other key information about your employees.

Stacks

Stacks

Organize and populate knowledge into a consolidated page that can be shared internally or externally with clients.

Knowledge Campaigns

Knowledge Campaigns

Deploy knowledge campaigns to inform employees about active pursuits, new clients, or firm news.

Integrations

Integrations

Connect your document management systems, CRM, and other popular applications with ease and confidence.