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Knowledge Management

Knowledge management (KM) is an important aspect of law practice. The Wikipedia entry describes KM as "the range of strategies and practices to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable the meaningful use of people's insights and experiences in an organization" that "seeks to maximize the value of its people's insights and experiences by cultivating the two common forms of knowledge: explicit knowledge (written knowledge), and tacit knowledge (hidden personal learnings)." (my emphasis)
In a law firm setting, explicit knowledge tends to be precedent agreements, checklists, research memos, opinion letters, and "how to" guides. Equally – if not more important is the tacit knowledge, being what lawyers know, their experience and their professional judgment. Capturing and organizing explicit legal knowledge can be relatively straightforward and involves a combination of technologies (internal document management systems, search and tagging technology, and intranets). Capturing and organizing tacit legal knowledge can be more challenging. In most firms, tacit knowledge is transferred through mentoring, training and allowing a knowledge-sharing culture to flourish.
Depending on the organization, legal knowledge management can potentially involve a wide array of activities, including:
  • Document management
  • Records management
  • Precedent development
  • Legal research
  • Business / competitive intelligence
  • Training students and lawyers
  • Intranet deployment
  • e-Discovery support
  • Project management
  • Client support (virtual data rooms)
Anyone interested in law-related knowledge management should read the books listed below (otherwise, consult the ILTA KM bibliography of resources on knowledge management for a more detailed list):
  • Battersby, Karen. Know How in the Legal Profession. Edited by Caroline Poynton. London: Ark Group, 2006 (details here).
  • Gawande, Atul. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010 (details here).
  • Hassett, Jim. The Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide: Tools
    Templates to Increase Efficiency
    . 2d ed. Boston, MA: LegalBizDev, 2011 (details here) (my SLAW book review here).
  • Lamb, Patrick J. Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing
    . London, UK: Ark Group, 2010 (details here).
  • Levy, Stephen B. Legal Project Management: Control Costs, Meet Schedules,
    Risks, and Maintain Sanity
    . Seattle, WA: DayPack Books, 2009 (details here).
  • Parsons, Matthew. Effective Knowledge Management for Law Firms. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004 (details here).
  • Rusanow, Gretta. Knowledge Management and the Smarter Lawyer. New York: ALM Publishing, 2003 (details here).
  • Susskind, Richard. The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services. London: Oxford University Press, 2008 (details here).
  • Weinberger, David. Everything is Miscellaneous. New York: Holt, 2008 (details here).
Some of my papers on knowledge management include:
There are a number of good blogs relating to legal knowledge management:



Legal Research and Writing:
Third Edition

by Ted Tjaden

Softcover 422 pgs.
Published: June 2010
ISBN-13: 9781552211762

Purchase here


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