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Knowledge Management

Knowledge management (KM) is an important aspect of law practice. The Wikipedia entry describes KM as "the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organisational knowledge" and "refers to a multi-disciplined approach to achieving organisational objectives by making the best use of knowledge."

One common way to think about managing knowledge is categorizing it into two basic types: explicit knowledge (information that is written down) and tacit knowledge (hidden personal learnings).
In a law firm setting, explicit knowledge tends to be precedent or sample business agreements or litigation pleadings, checklists, research memos, opinion letters, and "how to" guides. Equally – if not more important is the tacit knowledge, being what legal professionals 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 law firms, tacit knowledge is transferred through mentoring, training and encouraging a knowledge-sharing culture to flourish with the organization.
Depending on the law firm, legal knowledge management can potentially involve a wide array of activities, including:
  • Document management
  • Records management
  • Precedent development
  • Legal research
  • Business or competitive intelligence
  • Continuing legal education and professional development
  • Intranet deployment
  • e-Discovery support
  • Project management
  • Client support (virtual deal rooms)
  • Document automation and the creation of smart systems for clients
Anyone interested in law-related knowledge management should consider the books listed below (otherwise, consult the ILTA KM bibliography of resources on knowledge management for a more detailed list).

Selected books on law-related knowledge management
  • Abbott, Stephanie, ed. Legal Knowledge Management: Insights and Practice. Ark Group, 2013 (book details here).
  • Apistola, Martin, ed. Practical Strategies for Effective Law Firm Knowledge Management. Boca Raton: Universal-Publishers, 2012 (book details here).
  • Apistola, Martin & Petter Gottschalk. Essential Knowledge and Management Issues in Law Firms. Boca Raton: Universal-Publishers, 2012 (book details here).
  • Battersby, Karen. Know How in the Legal Profession. Edited by Caroline Poynton. London: Ark Group, 2006 (book details here).
  • Boake, Barbara & Rivk Kathuria. Project Management for Lawyers. London: Ark Group, 2011 (book details here).
  • Gawande, Atul. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2010 (book details here).
  • Gottschalk, Petter. Knowledge Management Maturity in Law Firm Business. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, 2012 (book details here).
  • Hassett, Jim, ed. The Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide. 3d ed. Boston, MA: LegalBizDev, 2013 (book details here) (my SLAW book review on an earlier edition is here).
  • Lamb, Patrick. Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Market. London, UK: Ark Group, 2010 (book details here).
  • Levy, Stephen. Legal Project Management: Control Costs, Meet Schedules, Risks, and Maintain Sanity. Seattle, WA: DayPack Books, 2009 (book details here).
  • Levy, Stephen. Legal Project Management Field Guide: Five Tools for Busy Professionals. Seattle, WA: DayPack Books, 2014 (book details here).
  • Parsons, Matthew. Effective Knowledge Management for Law Firms. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004 (book details here).
  • Raridon Lambreth, Susan & Michael Walker. Project Management for Lawyers, 2015. New York, NY: Practising Law Institute, 2015 (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).
  • Susskind, Richard. Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future. London: Oxford University Press, 2013 (details here).
  • Weinberger, David. Everything is Miscellaneous. New York: Holt, 2008 (book details here).
Selected recent articles (most recent first)
  • Catherine Filstad & Petter Gottschalk. "Chapter 4: Knowledge Management in Law Firms" in Anders Örtenblad, ed, Handbook of Research on Knowledge Management: Adaptation and Context (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014) (book details here).
  • Wendy Small, "Essential or 'Nice to Have'? The Impact of the Financial Downturn on KM in Law Firms" (2009) 9:4 Legal Information Management 287.
  • Petter Gottschalk & Jan Terje Karlsen, "Knowledge Management in Law Firm Business" (2009) 16:3 Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development 432.
Selected conferences papers by me on 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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