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.

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