Friday, December 14, 2012

Litigation Knowledge Management Sample Filing & Retrieval

A question was posed on the semi-private ILTA listserve this week that asked the KM peer group for assistance with folder structures that litigators have "actually used" for filing KM sample materials, presumably in folders or by document types in a document management system.  With the submitter's permission, I'm addressing that question here as well.

I can't say I've had too many positive experiences with expecting / asking lawyers to file or folder materials for KM purposes in any folder structure. This type of activity is outside their workflow, and inevitably the materials you get are very limited, quickly go stale, and / or are not referred to later.  Attorneys simply have too little motivation to routinely and successfully carry out this activity, in normal circumstances. My opinion is, if you had a detailed enough taxonomy of papers to be helpful in finding or browsing work product, it would inevitably be too complex and difficult to use from a filing perspective. In other words, it's generally not worth it and won't work (not to be too negative!)

I've taken two approaches to the "sample litigation papers" need. The one most comparable to what you are thinking of took all of the pleadings from a half-dozen cases, and grouped them in case timeline order by the most commonly used types of papers, at the following level of detail:

A. Initial Pleadings
  1. Complaints (link)
  2. Answers (link)
  3. Replies (i.e., in response to counterclaim, not a reply brief)
B. Response to Complaint
  1. Preliminary Injunction--Motion
  2. Preliminary Injunction--Memorandum in Support or Opposition
  3. etc. etc.
The documents were organized and displayed on our SharePoint portal via a SharePoint list. The purpose of this system is not to provide the "best" samples of particular types of papers, but to provide less experienced practitioners (such associates and paralegals) with a basic understanding of what the types of papers contain and look like.

For more substantive drafting and legal research purposes, we use document search and retrieval tool West KM, which has the huge advantages of A) automatically drawing on all of the litigation documents saved to the document management system and B) having its own automated document categorization engine. It also supplies case validation signals, and lets attorneys locate firm work product based on case and statutory authority cited in that material, which is a huge time-saver. The major effort required once it's set up is on user training and adoption.

If you don't have West KM or a comparable product such as Lexis Search Advantage, another approach you might want to consider is setting up "canned" searches of your document management system. iManage actually has fairly sophisticated capabilities in this regard, although they aren't as user-friendly as one might hope. Modern enterprise search tools also typically provide canned search capability, which can also obviate the need for lawyer filing.


Frank Schipani said...

Could you post some sample DMS searches?

Unknown said...

Sure, so for instance, a search for environmental access agreements through which a consultant gains limited access to a client's property might look for documents whose name includes the word "access" that match the following full text query: "environmental AND (enter NEAR 15 WORDS access) NOT lease"

The proximity search string would vary between document management systems, of course, but that gives you some idea of the types of searches you can run (in this case, a field search, Boolean and proximity full text searches combined).