Publication date: December, 2017
An exploration of the endeavors of various law firms – the problems they have faced, and the solutions they have developed – to improve their KM processes, and, ultimately, their bottom line
The discipline of knowledge management (KM) continues to evolve along with our ability to record larger and more varied kinds of information than ever before. Since its inception in the 1990s, it has passed through several stages, quickly becoming a credible field, and now an integral part of major businesses worldwide. Now, many have started to argue that KM is undergoing resurgence, possibly even transforming into KM 3.0, thanks to developments in artificial intelligence (AI). And, while AI has been around for many years, it has become a buzzword in the industry as questions loom over what it could mean for the labor market of the future.
Adoption has been relatively slow in the legal profession, owing in part to its conservative nature, individual-focused training and no real incentive to overhaul the hourly billing model1. When in-house legal teams can exceed 1,000 people, sharing and reusing knowledge can easily become inefficient, with counsel often needlessly paying for the same research twice. Global intelligence software leader Comintelli estimates that $8.5 billion per year is lost between Fortune 500 companies alone on poor KM2, up from $31.5 billion in 20043, suggesting a recent rise in the number of firms embracing the concept.
Despite this, there are still challenges posed to the legal world, and sharing insight is more vital than ever, not only within companies but between them. Innovations in Legal KM explores the endeavors of various legal firms – the problems they have faced, and the solutions they have developed – to improve their KM processes, and, ultimately, their bottom line.
Oz Benamram is chief knowledge officer at White & Case, providing the firm with strategic direction on the use of KM and technology. He leads the knowledge department in developing and implementing the systems and processes that enable the firm to use its collective knowledge to benefit clients worldwide.
Oz is a globally recognized thought leader and a frequent speaker on legal IT and KM subjects. He has won numerous awards for leading innovation in legal KM, including the creation of an enterprise search system.
Hélène Russell of TheKnowledgeBusiness is a lawyer (non-practising) and specialist in knowledge management. She has worked as a self-employed KM’er since 2008, and specialises in translating complex academic thought leadership and cross-boundary theories into practical tools to improve the efficiency and profitability of law firms. Hélène is the author of Knowledge Management Handbook (2012) and Practical Projects in Legal KM (2015), as well as several chapters for ARK’s multi-contributor books. She is a frequent conference speaker and runs regular open KM training events, as well as overseeing nationwide KM community groups. Hélène has completed an executive MBA with distinction, with a focus on antecedents to knowledge sharing within UK law firms.
Jack Bostelman is president of KM/JD Consulting LLC in San Francisco, California, which advises law ﬁrm leaders on practice management, including knowledge management and other productivity improvements. Before founding KM/JD Consulting, Jack was a partner for over 20 years at pre-eminent AmLaw 20 ﬁrm Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City, where he had a nationally recognized transactional securities law practice and exercised management responsibilities.
Chris Boyd is senior director of professional services at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP in Palo Alto, California. Chris runs the ﬁrm’s recruiting, training, and knowledge management programs, all of which are designed to help the ﬁrm deliver superlative value to its clients. Chris was previously an attorney at the ﬁrm and also led KM programs at several internet start-ups.
Mark Gediman is a Reference Librarian for Alston & Bird, LLP, supporting the research needs of more than 800 attorneys and paralegals. Past President of the Southern California Association of Law Libraries as well as co-founder and co-chair of the PLL-IP Competitive Intelligence Caucus. Mark writes and presents regularly on Competitive Intelligence, research and library management issues for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), Legal Marketing Association (LMA), the Special Libraries Association (SLA), SCALL, NoCALL, ACI and HALL. He is the author of Chapter 8 of Business Intelligence for Law Firms (Ark-2012), Chapter 6 of Strategic Intelligence for Law Firms (Ark-2018), Chapter 5 in Innovations in Legal KM (Ark-2017) and articles in AALL Spectrum, Practicing Law Management Week, Paralegal Today and Facts & Findings-The Magazine of the National Assoc. of Legal Assistants (NALA). Mark is a graduate of the University of California-Riverside.
Harriet Creamer has over 25 years of experience of working in the legal services sector, both as a client lawyer and in management. Harriet trained, practiced and became a partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Derringer, where – having become the City of London’s first PSL – she headed up their knowledge management function, developing and managing knowledge services across their worldwide network of offices. Since leaving Freshfields, Harriet has been a director of Outer Circle, a consultancy she established with a colleague to provide knowledge management and practice development advice, principally to professional services firms. She has extensive experience of helping firms use their knowledge strategically, both to strengthen client relationships and drive profitability.
She also advises firms on how to ensure that their knowledge management activities are aligned to and support the delivery of their strategic business objectives and that they derive value from their investment in knowledge management. She regularly works with partners and groups of partners to help them identify and prioritize the development of key knowledge tools for their practice areas.
Harriet is an experienced presenter and a regular speaker at KM conferences and other events, as well as writing regularly on aspects of KM for the legal press. She is a member of the Law Society’s Standing Committee on Company Law.
Chief Marketing and Business Development Officer, Wolf Theiss
Cyndi Murphy is the knowledge manager in the Halifax, Nova Scotia office of Stewart McKelvey. Her firmwide responsibilities include liaising with various administrative departments for the successful implementation of knowledge management projects, overseeing content management of the internal Sharepoint portal and various internal research-oriented databases, and attending meetings of the Practice Innovation Advisory Committee.
She was a member of the three-person team that designed and implemented a new Sharepoint portal which launched in January 2016 and she continues to be integrally involved with ongoing enhancements to the portal. Cyndi is a former president of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries and an active member of the association’s Knowledge Management and Private Law Libraries Special Interest Groups.
Cynthia Brown is the director of research services at Littler Mendelson, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice representing management where she has bridged the worlds of the Library and Knowledge Management since 2007.
Her previous experience includes working as in-house counsel for four years at a small risk management firm, as an account manager and training consultant at LexisNexis, and running a solo library in Salt Lake City at Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough.
James Loft is a graduate of knowledge management from Loughborough University and has worked extensively in innovation and new technologies in transport and financial services culminating in the running of an artificial intelligence consultancy firm that helps companies make AI tools fit their businesses rather than the other way around. His mission is to demystify the world of ‘applied AI’ for organizations, to level the playing field for the progression of the technology now, rather than as a vision for the future.
With an experienced background in innovation and service design, he understands the gentle but vital balance between design and technology, and advocates an MVP style approach to new technology in order to achieve success. An active member of a community of AI companies, tools and platforms, James possesses a broad understanding of the possibilities the technologies can offer and will support in their implementation where possible to advance the marketplace.
Kathy Skinner is director of research and information services at White & Case. Kathy’s global research and information services team helps lawyers get to the right answers faster. Kathy’s responsibilities include delivering an optimal portfolio of research services and products across the firm’s 43 offices efficiently and cost-effectively. Kathy’s team is part of the broader White & Case knowledge function, led by Oz Benamram.