Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tjaden on Litigation Knowledge Management

I recently came across Canadian Knowledge Manager and Librarian Ted Tjaden's post on Slaw about his presentation on Litigation Knowledge Management. at the Canadian Law and Technology Forum. Given his audience, he understandably painted with a broad brush.

I enjoyed Ted's take on the synergy (and contrast) between litigators' varying needs for internal information (such as a previous brief arguing for assertion of a federal court's personal jurisdiction over the defendant) and external information (Moore's treatise on civil procedure, including federal courts' treatment of personal jurisdiction). In my firm, KM supplies the former, the library supplies the latter; in each case, the information professional should have awareness of and access to the other type, in case it is a better fit with the attorneys' needs. Where the professional wears both hats, that synergy is easier to work.

I have previously addressed here what distinguishes litigation knowledge management from general law-firm or business law KM.

Ted's post reminds me that I am somewhat embarassed I haven't blogged yet about my presentations at the Chicago Ark conference. Ted himself has blogged about the conference. I'll publish my bit soon, I promise.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ark Conference, Is KM converging with Litigation Support, Risk Management, and Client Services?

Craig Carpenter, VP Legal Solutions and GC, Recommind


Brent E. Kidwell, Chief Knowledge Counsel, Jenner & Block LLP
Stacie Capshaw, Firmwide Records Manager, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Joshua Fireman
, Vice-President Development and General Counsel, ii3

Here are a few key points from this panel of experienced KM and Records folks.

KM As Mediators and Glue

One type of “convergence” is the role KM can play in mediating or “glueing” together different administrative and legal groups. In many firms KM has had a role as the “lawyers who talk to IT,” or at least as people whose job it is to facilitate communications between lawyers and IT managers at law firms. By virtue of their expertise with improving knowledge and information handling, KM often has projects with many different administrative groups, and can lead the discussions between the different functional areas. I have certainly found that KM has a broad range of contacts and activities compared to other administrative departments at my firm, particularly as we start to leverage Enterprise 2.0 technologies like wikis and blogs.

KM can serve this role better once it has obtained the trust of other groups through successful programs.

Brent gave the example of office moves. KM can play a role because it can assist in the transition away from paper files.

KM and E-Mail

Email is the most pressing issue in records management, because of the immense volume and significance of the content. Stacie believes that email is a “necessary evil”, like dial tone, but that it also saps lawyers’ productivity. KM should address better email behavior. Joshua said that we need to break down all forms of communication, including email, into streams, and then figure out how can you syndicate the information. How would I like to use this information? How would I like to know about the relationships? The value and utility of email should drive how we are looking at it.

Strategic & Stealth KM

“Stealth KM” was another topic of discussion. Some panel members approached projects without needing to brand or label them as KM projects. One audience member chimed in and bluntly addressed the need to “have a strong partner in your corner when the chips are down” and argued instead for highly visible KM. Such a partner is not likely to be a user of KM tools; they will base their opinions on those of the mid-level and senior associates.

Another excellent strategic point made by another audience member is that KM should be strategically focused on those practice areas that are growing, rather than those where adoption may be easy.