This week’s episode of The Pursuit Desk features Ginevra Saylor, the National Director of Innovation and Knowledge Programs at Gowling WLG, who joins Jason Noble to discuss the ways that legal knowledge management has evolved.
1:50 Ginevra’s experience and evolution from attorney to knowledge management
Ginevra has been working in the legal space for the entirety of her career, starting as a practicing lawyer and eventually making a transition into being a full-time writer for legal publications. She decided to make this career switch as the role seemed more interesting and exciting to her than to continue to practice law, and she’s now been working knowledge management for over 20 years.
In the past, to have a role in knowledge management at a law firm, you would have had to have experience as a practicing lawyer. The reasoning behind this was because there is a level of trust amongst practicing lawyers. After all, you understand their struggles. By relating to their pain points they can help design technology that better serves their needs.
3:52 Patterns in how firms approach knowledge management
After working at 3 different firms all within the knowledge management space, Ginevra has always seen a trend in massive document management projects that require migrating to a new knowledge management system (KMS) or implementing an entirely new digital system.
Another big trend she has noticed is the importance of an intranet that works well and meets the needs of the attorneys.
9:22 Best practices for intranets
Ginevra knows that lawyers spend a lot of time in their document management system (DMS) and on Outlook by necessity. Lawyers always want to be able to easily access both of these platforms. This can make it a bit harder to introduce new collaboration tools, as they tend to want to stay within the tools they know and trust.
Most professionals with intranets will say the hardest part is getting people to rely on the information on the intranet instead of falling back on their email platform as the primary tool to share their knowledge.
11:39 Using the intranet to fill digital gaps within their workflow
When Ginevra is developing an intranet for a firm, she tries to identify all the different personas at the firm who might be using it; such as, lawyers, law clerks, business development, and more. Once she has identified the personas she focuses on what they need, when they need it, how they need it packaged, and who they will need to collaborate or work with.
The common problem Ginevra encounters when setting up an intranet is the tension between putting information into the system and being able to pull out the accurate information. At the end of the day, lawyers want to be able to have the right information be pushed to them at the exact right time, or else they will forget about it.
13:52 Proactively delivering relevant information
Have a KMS or DMS system operate proactively is the key to being of the best service to lawyers. It is important to be able to understand what people are doing as soon as they start doing it, and how to set up an accurate response to that trigger immediately.
Ginevra aspires to interpret their intent behind certain triggered actions, and deliver the accurate knowledge based on that. And she understands that it ultimately comes down to the user experience and each individual’s tolerance for new technology. Her mission is to get the right answers to them when they need it, and the technology should not serve as a barrier for them. When the programs work they will love it, but you are unlikely to get a second chance to prove the value of the technology to them.
19: 53 What does the feedback loop look like
Ginevra thinks the benefit of having someone who has formerly practiced law in this role is that they deeply understand the lawyer’s perspective. They can test the platform themselves and perfect its features before presenting it to them.
However there is an increase in how many digital native professionals are joining the law firm, and they’re often eager to get the technology working. This eagerness can be helpful as at every firm there will always be a portion of the lawyers who are more interested in the technology than others. She typically seeks out those who want to work more efficiently with technology and starts working with them.
23:09 Challenges of making experience repackageable for business development
When Ginevra looks back on the evolution of her career and knowledge management, she recognizes how it started with firms wanting a source of collective knowledge that they can tap in to for business development purposes. From there it began to become very focused on collaboration, communication, practice management and eventually legal project management
Most firms are trying to get a handle on expertise location, and they want to implement technology to help them manage it. The biggest challenges that she faced in creating these collaboration collections of knowledge was that the information she needs to share is often sensitive information that lawyers are hesitant to share. They have to have a lot of trust in the program and the people implementing it to share that information.
The next biggest challenge she faces is taking the collective information and packaging it in a way that is helpful to the business development team. This step often requires a lot of planning and getting things together. Sometimes the complexity of this project isn’t clear until you start working on it.
30:24 Where is knowledge management going
Ginevra says that she has seen artificial intelligence (AI) come a long way, and sees its potential to fully innovate the knowledge management space. She thinks that when utilized properly, it can automate tasks and analyze large amounts of data immediately.
She thinks the potential of AI to automate the work of a lawyer is interesting and exciting. She believes in the notion that AI and human intelligence can work together to unleash more human intelligence and accomplish better solutions. She believes AI will continue to explode based on how law firms will change and adapt in the future to be more technology-driven.
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