Recap of KM's First Quarterly Roundtable

By Vivian Liu-Somers posted 12-05-2017 08:59


KM Quarterly Roundtable Recap

Introduction of Series

               There has been a lot of new and increased interest in KM. With new people wanting to learn more and the community’s desire for opportunities to exchange ideas ILTA’s Information Management content team heard you and established the KM Quarterly Roundtables. These will be led by a rotating group of KM professionals. The topics are flexible, and if there is any specific discussion you’d like to have us bring to the group please email any ideas to Nicole at

Below are some recap notes from our first roundtable. We hope you all found it useful, and if you were not able to make it we hope these notes help fills you in.

Background of KM

Traditional KM

Intermediate KM

Modern KM


Reuse of work product

Connect people and information

Provide value to clients

Signature Project

Forms and precedents

Enterprise search

Artificial intelligence



Minimal technology and staffing investments


Technology-driven with low staffing; passive KM


Focus on AI and collaboration, with staffing needed to apply technologies


No separate investment

Investments specifically for KM

More sophisticated technology


Use leftover bandwidth


Increasing demand


  • Traditional KM: forms, precedents, database
    • Bread and butter KM; starting point for programs. Still offer traditional services.
  • Intermediate KM: more sophisticated technology, like enterprise search and portals
    • Includes portals and enterprise search; capturing internal data.
  • Modern KM: artificial intelligence
    • Expert assistance, client facing turn helps to broaden the impact of what KM can do for a law firm.


Topic 1 - Starting or Kickstarting a program or technology.

  •  Identifying champions/stakeholders early on
    • Finding solutions for them
    • Define strategy, scope and solutions
    • Broader scope than before
    • Traditional KM projects require least investment, but be strategic for impact
    • Focus on impact to client; could mean aligning with pricing efforts
  • KM is an organizational issue. Improving the process and productivity of attorneys; how legal services are delivered.  Client facing knowledge management programs – build platforms to share knowledge with in-house counsel.  Want to build tools to assist clients. Maintaining and returning knowledge to a client is a current trend.  Look to see if clients have a knowledge management strategy and start there.  Do clients have specific information from their organizations to incorporate into KM resources?  This helps to retain clients.  Develop mutual relationships with clients and firms.  Create a document assembly program to help improve efficiencies. 
  • Focus on small wins to build momentum for the next project
    • Voluntary vs Mandatory nature of KM means you need to solve a problem to get people to use your solution
  • Important piece - starting with an easy success story. Identifying finding out what practice needs are.  Defining/locating resources, deliver, and maintain.
  • Q: If you have started a KM program, where did you start? Can a DMS cover the needs?
    • DMS would not be a complete KM program as a whole. It is a good place to start, low resource but a high impact example.  DMS can be used as a platform to collect forms and precedent documents.  Move/copy documents to KM folders.  Lawyers do spend a lot of time in the DMS, but they are used to it.  Try to figure out how to leverage the DMS.  Practice group pages can feed DMS material to attorneys directly.  Use metrics and data to determine which documents are used most often.  DMS is vital to a good KM program.


Topic 2 - Building Awareness

  • Go to practice group meetings; target content
  • Cross sell to other groups using success stories
  • Non-tech tools as well – meetings and training – have to identify requirements, communicate how to get message out, build awareness of how tools work – ongoing strategy
  • Training – partner with training/development departments –Incorporate in new hire onboarding and attorney development groups
    • CLE Credit
    • Early awareness for new employees/associates/laterals
    • Awareness requires multiple touches; not just once
  • Q: What methods do you use to raise awareness at your firm?
    • Meetings and staff trainings help identify both processes and tools. Communicate on how KM resources will this impact the work of attorneys and professional staff and how they will use it.  Firm wide or practice group specific.  Partnering with your training and LD department can help amplify what you are doing.  Offer CLE credit to generate interest in your KM program.  Onboarding is a good time to promote KM services, so are formal presentations.  Allow your current KM champions to promote the program.  Deliver on resources and content.  Loop in your power users – peer to peer.  Have quarterly KM group meetings.  Be sure to acknowledge your KM Champions – create a brand, make something that people crave or want. Does KM fulfill a work need?  Do attorneys work in the KM department?  You can still have a successful program if attorneys are not involved.  Need to partner with attorneys more – find out what their pain points are.  Takes a lot of listening – what are they doing, process management, how can KM be of help to the attorneys.  Learn about subject matters/practice areas.  If you don’t have a law degree, you can still be an effective KM manager.  What is the practice group concerned with? What is the client concerned with?
  • Champions groups
    • Allow champions to promote it – loop in power users
    • More peer to peer training
    • KM Champions program –
      • ILTA Peer’s Example: At my firm, the knowledge management department partnered with the learning & development department to create a KM Champions Program. The Program consists of a series of 12 video modules that highlight specific KM resources or services – for example, our enterprise search tool, a judge experience database, how to use SharePoint client and team sites for effective collaboration, etc.  Each video is about 5 minutes in length.  At the end of each video, there are a few assessment questions to answer.  The entire program can be completed in about two hours.  Participants can watch videos at their own convenience.  After an individual completes the program, he or she is formally acknowledged.  The person’s name is added to our KM Champions’ list.  The person also receives a certificate, a sticker to put on his/her security badge, and a name plate for his/her workstation that designates them as a KM Champion.  Once designated a Champion, we then ask these folks to use the KM tools in the course of their work and also to recommend KM tools to their colleagues when appropriate.  We initially targeted the program to our legal administrative assistants.  We also share the KM Champion program to our summer associates and fall associates as part of the onboarding process.  I personally believe that this program has been a success and has been well received.


Topic 3 - Low resource but high impact examples.

  • Using DMS for precedents
  • Practice pages on intranets
  • Focus on a few key/impactful resources instead of designing a comprehensive collection that doesn’t get populated
    • Set you up for document automation down the road
  • Find narrow targeted problem, then address, expand from there
  • Keep it simple – agile methodology – Minimally Viable Product
  • Sell it to Champions to promote
  • Q: What examples of low resource/high impact projects can you share?
    • SharePoint portals
      • Akin – document collection and maintained in DMS and delivered in SharePoint
      • Collaboration portals
      • Way to bring together resources for practice groups – delivery tool for links, research, information


Additional Questions/Points Highlighted

What is your KM program doing?  KM can get involved in many areas.  It is having a bit of a renaissance.  KM is getting involved in client facing projects.  Working with targeted groups/practice areas where we can make an impact.  Legal teams probably have pain points.  KM not is as effective when it tries to be all things to all people.  KM tools and resources are voluntary for attorneys to use.  Are you solving a problem for someone?

Level of formality for a small firm – DMS can be the cornerstone for KM program.  A good place to collect and find important documents.  Low resource / high impact – is this delivering the information you need for your attorneys?  Have a program that addresses the needs of your end users. 

How do you know if you are doing a good job?  Meeting colleagues, participating in panel discussions, attend professional meetings.  Going to ILTA boards.  Technology should support your KM endeavors – people and processes come first.  What is the problem you are trying to solve?  Get people to talk with one another more.  Maybe you need to change the process.  People are the most important part of a KM program.  Technology is not always the correct answer.

Practice groups will vary – some want more of a comprehensive approach.  Some groups might put folders on their practice pages that contain precedent documents.  Another group might identify the 12 most important documents that they use, then annotate them and make them readily available.  (Scattershot versus targeted documents.)

Attorney owners of information?

  • Varies – could be attorney providing content with admins providing content
  • KM attorneys curating
  • Key question – who is responsible for content and will update it?
  • KM process in place to check in at a minimum even no KM attorneys – KM group could be active in getting them to look at content

Metrics are important.

  • Do we still need them?
  • AI – what is ROI going to be?
  • UK firms – going to AI without ROI expectations – law firm R&D – future topic?

These notes were collected by Jeff Sewell and myself.