Monday, February 2, 2009

LegalTech: KM from a Client Services Perspective

  • The importance of client service in retaining clients and growing the practice
  • Growth of KM approaches from internally focused needs to effectively playing a role in serving client

Meredith Williams, Director of Knowledge Management, Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz

Todd Mattson, Director of Practice Systems & Services, Covington & Burling LLP

Attendance has been thinning out somewhat since the heavily-attended morning session.

Todd Mattson

Practice Systems groups comprised of library, paralegals, and litigation support teams. He sought to define KM with reference to improving firm performance.

Example #1--Policy Advice for Large Pharma Company

There were many different types of documents, many different firm offices involved, and many different client participants. The client was driving need for organization.

They developed an extranet that lets everyone track projects, documents and deliverables. The view looks like a basic browsable folder tree, although some of the items are projects rather than documents.

Example #2--Coalition Representation & Management

These coalitions are comprised of 8-22 U.S. and international companies (say, a trade or manufacturing group). They need both substantive and procedural documentation.

Example #3--Digital Case File Sites

Most of these are digital repositories for pleadings and other case materials. They expanded to include patent background data.

Lessons Learned

They focus on the matter and the practical needs/wants of the clients. They don't charge for the actual web site, but the work is done for a particular matter and so is billable.

Meredith Williams

What are the internal activities that drive client acquisition?
How do KM activities affect the bottom line?
How do we promote and market these activities inside and outside the firm?

Focus moved from better information sharing to efficiency and then to marketing and business development. KM is very much integrated with the marketing team.

What can we build that the client will see and appreciate? What KM can we sell as a commodity?

West KM is integrated into their enterprise search (Microsoft's?).

For a practice group, ask what will help them service the client better? Work product and feeds of external resources such as docket/case alerts. They have a direct integration with Courtlink, based on say type of law.

They have a personalized "My Site" that graphically displays the attorney's lists of matters and most recently modified documents.

Baker has industry and client service teams. Industry teams can start to identify opportunities in new types of work. They pull in large amounts of information from West Monitor. West Monitor serves up business news and analysis organized around particular industries.

They have client and matter intranet sites. Some client sites can be shared with the client. Client sites show financial information, documents, and emails. Matter sites show .pdf copies of actual bills (not difficult to do, great reward).

"Advanced" client sites bring in information from West Monitor. Dashboards show news items, stock price information, and so forth. Some have blogs. (The client does not see the blogs). She had a big success with a client who moved business to the firm after seeing the externally facing client site. Client productions and interrogatory responses are going to be searcheable.

The KM group offers clients CLE on West KM and Westlaw.

She's integrated KM with the "four pillars" of the firm's business plan. Meets with practice and industry teams every quarter. Asks them what their needs are, KM figures out "how" and delivers.

Keys to Success
  • Serve as many groups as possible
  • Communicate with administration about successes
  • Brand everything that you can
Questioning brought out that some clients of both firms have asked to post documents to the client's extranet or database.

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