Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ark Conference Report: Responding To Current Market Conditions With Successful KM Strategy


Karen Hanigan, KM Director, Clayton Utz
Mira Renko, Head of Expertise, Ashurst
David Williams, Lange Consulting & Software

Facilitator:  Judith Ellis, Enterprise Knowledge Pty Ltd

This is my second post on the ARK conference.  This was an interesting session, a little short on specifics, but full of information about the changes in the legal industry and some of the challenges facing legal knowledge management in Australia.

Karen Hanigan

Clayton Utz is a big firm; clients want faster, better, cheaper, and competition has never been fiercer.  Lawyer's Weekly has picked this up.  A survey of top-tier firms identified fees, merger mania, and depression (among staff) as significant issues.  We're in a state of uncertainty. 

When she started in KM "the world was your oyster."  There is some fatigue around what KM demands.  We had a big field of concepts to master like staff retention, mentoring, and change management.  She feels that KM has to narrow its focus.  Her choice has been to focus on business development. There is a strong synergy between KM and BD.  She's doing a lot of profiling.  She's set up meetings every two weeks with the BD team.

KM can help by simplifying.  She uses what everyone else is doing.  Hear what others are doing and sharing amongst professional is key. 

Client presentations can demonstrate KM value but could potentially take away from the value of knowledge management to the staff. 

She's providing technical legal training to the firm in part as a way of raising the profile of KM, to demonstrate how skilled her staff is.  These require KM attorneys to become good presenters (I have certainly found a more frequent and perhaps greater need for presentation or training skills in this type of a role than I did as a practicing litigator). 

KM also helps provide CLE training to client lawyers.  She'll help lawyers by reviewing dry runs.

Need for KM is getting greater with information overload and the emphasis on lean practice, but there is "KM fatigue" around the need. 

Mira Renko

We have to consider the pressures put upon law firms by clients and by clients on general counsel. Some clients are demanding some free services like certain types of clauses or brief consultation with a research librarians.

KM is addressing pricing pressure by teaching and coaching matter teams about how to manage the matters more efficiently and effectively.

Her firm has stepped into the global law firm environment.

Some areas of profitable work have decreased (like Mergers & Acquisition).  Do you redeploy lawyers to new areas or make them redundant?  KM can help with training lawyers in new areas of increased profitability and opportunity.

Clients may look for access to a shared space on big matters.  This is not difficult to provide.  Some clients are requiring firms to use their portal.  KM can help lawyers manage that change.  KM needs to be nimble and manage client demands.  

Business development managers may not understand what KM can fairly readily and cheaply provide to clients. 

PSLs in the UK do a lot of client-facing work, presenting seminars to clients and writing what goes to clients. 

David Williams

Other industry have already addressed the kinds of pricing pressures now facing the legal industry. How you show that you add value for money?

Cloud solutions are becoming secure (with the right controls) and are easy to get up and running.  Client and partner organization access is fairly straightforward and can be time-delimited.

Is there a case for cost recovery for KM services?

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