Is Knowledge Management Just Overhead For Law Firms?

Just about everyone I talk to expects 2009 to be a difficult year for the economy as the job cuts and corporate failures of the last quarter really come into effect. Law firms with their thin capitalization and thick layer of fixed costs are bracing for a difficult year. I keep hearing “Flat is the new Up.”

Where does knowledge management fit in this climate for law firms?

Two articles address this topic in the January issue of KIM Legal magazine. Karen Battersby in: More Than Just An Overhead and Toby Brown of Fulbright and Jaworski in: Doom and Gloom, or Time to Prosper? both look ahead to the challenges.

  • The efficiency gains from KM should be welcomed when clients are more likely to challenge every item on the bill.
  • With layoffs (whether formal or performance-based) it is important to transfer the knowledge from individual lawyers to teams of lawyers.
  • KM can allow senior lawyers to delegate more to junior lawyers, allowing the senior lawyers to focus on client relationships.
  • Use KM to increase the level of client service.
  • With extra capacity is some areas, it is a great time for law firms to use that capacity on knowledge management activities.  
  • Focus on expanding the use of existing systems instead of going out and purchasing something new.

You can read more from Toby at the 3 Geeks and a Law Blog.

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