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A Recap from Yesterday’s ILTA KM Roundtable – KM Around the Globe

By Vincent Colavita posted 05-29-2019 15:47


It can be quite challenging to define KM on a global scale, especially in terms of innovation.  There is an overarching understanding of the foundational aspects of KM that apply to each locality; efficiency and excellence, increased quality, client service, profitability, attorney job satisfaction, and risk management.  All brought together by content, collaboration, and culture.  The tenets of KM - precedents, forms, guides, playbooks, if perfected, can serve as the bridges to innovation.  Yet, firms are approaching KM and innovation in different ways, where some have dedicated innovation teams and others rely on KM to drive. Universally, innovation should exist at a cultural level firm wide.  Especially as the relationship to technology becomes integral to establishing a successful legal career and provide effective client service. 

Firms with mature KM efforts are one-step closer to providing the collaborative culture of innovation, integrating KM into practice group and regional office business plans, defining objectives and resources.  Imbedding KM within the larger strategies, finding champions, developing best practices, and improved client services leading to increased revenue generation.  The size and maturity of KM teams vary across firms and regions, but in general, they are a make-up of PSLs/KMAs imbedded within practices to support the subject matter experts and promote technology utilization to match solution to defined need.  In the U.K., the PSL model is well established, whereas teams in the U.S. are threadbare and more focused on a facilitating role delivering content – but that trend is changing.

A collaborative culture is crucial as KM teams across the globe are asked to provide technology to both innovation efforts and traditional KM delivery.  Working with all lines of business services to facilitate the delivery and engagement of practice focused technologies; this includes library/research, marketing/BD, IT/PMO, pricing/finance, and professional development.  Discussions among higher-level management from these teams can connect projects and initiatives to priority; mitigating duplicative efforts.  North American firms are seeing an increased collaboration among KM, business development, and pricing teams in responding to RFPs - KM providing the content rather than strategy – playing an integral role.

KM in the U.S. is increasingly focused on being at the forefront of engaging legal technology and innovation initiatives, becoming the lead on the exploration and development of solutions.  Whereas, in the U.K., KM efforts are foundationally people based, relying on subject matter experts to develop content as the service.  Canada has seen a mixture of both, especially in the entrepreneurial, service focused aspects of a large market like Toronto (where a few well-known legal tech initiatives have their origins).  Such efforts require many components; KM brings the practical aspect to the technology and can mitigate the “tech for techs sake” approach that can arise.

Firms across the globe are meeting the same challenges in defining KM, there is, however, the universal understanding that KM provides subject matter content to the practice of law.  Knowledge is intellectual capital; the expert and practical management of such capital is vital to the delivery of client services, intrinsic to our fees and required as best practices.  We can come away from yesterday’s discussion in agreement on this.

Thank you to the panel for the great conversation on a great topic that we could definitely spend a few more hours discussing.  Please find the panelists contact information below.

Amy Monaghan (Practice Innovation Manager, Perkins Coie) -
Vin Colavita (Knowledge Development Manager, Akin Gump) -
Jeff Brandt (CIO, Jackson Kelly PLLC) -
Kate Simpson (National Director of Knowledge Management, Bennett Jones LLP) -
Nikki Shaver (Global Director of Knowledge Management, Paul Hastings)  -
Katja Ullrich-North (Global Head of Knowledge Management, Hogan Lovells) –