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Knowledge Management: Blinded by the Light

By Marlene Gebauer posted 04-13-2020 09:06


Knowledge Management.  Not so long ago, if I said this was part of my job, my family did not understand what I did for a living.  But now, during COVID-19, KM has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight of importance.  KM professionals are getting their shining moment and taking the time to show KM’s value.

So last post, I promised you to highlight some of the new project focus based on COVID-19.  It’s going to revolve around KM.   Evan Shenkman, Sr. Director of Knowledge Management, and Jennifer Mendez, Director of Knowledge Management and Innovation at Fisher Phillips heard about my mini blog and were gracious enough to share some of the valuable things their team is doing to support the firm and clients.  Are you doing any of these things?  Anything else?  Let us all know.


Knowledge Management (KM) is uniquely positioned to help law firms cope with the type of critical remote work and information challenges posed by COVID-19, including locating documents, accessing pertinent information, and collaborating with colleagues and clients. Through a combination of tools, process improvement, and KM approaches, Evan Shenkman, Senior Director of Knowledge Management, and Jennifer Mendez, Director of KM Innovation, quickly assessed, developed, and introduced a number of successful KM solutions at Fisher Phillips in direct response to COVID-19. In less than one week, among other things, they:

  •  Developed and rolled out a dashboard to assess attorney availability:
    • With the round-the-clock nature of providing advice on COVID-19 issues, our partners needed a solution to locate attorneys and paralegals across the firm with available time to assist with work (often due to court closures or other cancellations).  In the span of several hours, KM rolled out an Attorney/Paralegal Availability dashboard on their firm’s intranet, which displays the real-time results of an availability questionnaire located on the firm’s intranet homepage. Attorney buy-in was virtually instant: within minutes of announcing the tool, hundreds of attorneys had already completed their availability profiles (with areas of expertise and present status), with many of those attorneys immediately claimed by partners for pressing assignments. 
  • Created Sharepoint 365 team pages, with Smartsheet project management WebApp integration, to allow our two new COVID-19-related  task forces to collaborate, assign responsibilities, and collaborate on documents and projects (such as 50-state surveys and collections of State Shelter in Place Orders) in real-time.
  • Created Sharepoint 365-based internal document repositories to house a curated collection of the firm’s  best COVID-19-related model documents, presentations, analysis, and resources, allowing attorneys to access them remotely without requiring VPN access. This page was accessed over 12,000 times in just the first week it was rolled out.
  • Marshaled a team of over 30 attorneys from across the country to create detailed 50-state overviews of all employment-related COVID-19 state issues, and made the final work-product freely available to all firm attorneys via a dedicated SharePoint site. Using those resources as a starting point, our collection allows our attorneys to efficiency provide detailed state-specific legal advice to our clients at a fraction of the cost. 
  • Helped curate, create, and manage a bank of employment-related COVID-19 model documents and samples, which were then were made directly available to the general public via our COVID-19 Resource Center on our external website.