A successful legal knowledge management (KM) program increases legal department productivity, eliminates time spent doing duplicate work, and delivers consistency by leveraging intellectual and knowledge-based assets.
While the benefits of legal knowledge management are easy to understand, the actual process of implementing a legal KM program is new for many legal departments and can seem challenging – especially for legal teams working within global corporations – to say the least. If you’re unsure of how to get started with KM, we wanted to share a few quick and actionable tips for creating a KM program that aligns with your departmental and company-wide goals.
Tip 1: Turn to Your Team to Create Objectives for Your KM Program
To create a knowledge management program that will continue to be beneficial for your legal department year after year, you’ll need to determine objectives for your program. Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far! Start by asking the members of your team:
- Are there documents or information that you find yourself constantly searching for?
- What information is hard for you to find?
- What makes it hard to find?
- How much of your time is spent sifting through emails?
- Where do you store your own personal work notes?
These types of questions will uncover insights about where information lives in your organization and how you can help your team identify, capture, and categorize that information in a way that can be easily searched and discovered.
Tip 2: Consider Technology for KM
Technology is playing a critical role amongst legal teams, helping them to better manage things like internal spend, timekeeper rates, and relationships with outside counsel. However, with such a wide range of legal technology available to legal teams for efficient KM, it’s important that you have a good handle of the overall legal tech landscape.
Ask questions and lean on your peers and networking groups to better understand:
- Who are the major providers?
- Is there a significant cost difference between tools?
- Are there unique benefits that one system provides over another?
- How do the system’s features align with the goals you identified in tip one of this post?
We’ve spoken to numerous legal leaders who have implemented their own KM programs and they all share common pieces of advice. The first is not to compare yourself to others. Every legal team is different and they’re all working towards different goals. If you’re department simply isn’t ready to make the case for legal tech, look at the tools you might already have available and don’t be afraid to go to other departments to see what they might be utilizing to achieve similar goals.
Tip 3: Prepare Your Organization for Change
KM promotes the idea that knowledge is power, which can be a great way to promote teamwork within the organization. However, companies (especially larger organizations) often recognize individual performance, meaning the concept of KM and general knowledge share may be met with resistance by certain individuals.
Understanding this challenge before you build your KM program (or adopt a new technology, improve or modernize a process, or take on any new change for that matter) is important because it helps ensure you provide each person within your company with the right information, training, and knowledge to be successful within your program.
Looking for tips on change management? Check out the 5 building blocks critical to every change management plan.
Share Knowledge for Greater Outcomes
As forward-thinking legal teams, often supported by process-oriented legal operations professionals, work to create efficiencies within the legal department and cross-functionally, taking the time to plan and build a strong foundation for a KM program becomes priority. Those who start thinking about KM early position their departments for both short and long-term success, while facilitating streamlined operations and overall collaboration.