Why legal ops needs to think about knowledge management

Lauren Lee | August 1, 2017 | Articles

One of the biggest challenges that legal operations departments are still trying to figure out is Knowledge Management (KM). How do legal operations teams easily capture, find, and share everything that the department collectively knows?

Providing corporate legal departments with modern legal operations software, we’re always trying to share new ways for in-house teams to streamline operations, better collaborate with each other, and ultimately control costs and reduce spend. Today, we’re diving a little further into legal KM and how the right KM program helps to achieve the aforementioned goals.

What is Legal Knowledge Management?

Legal Knowledge Management refers to the way corporate legal departments create, share, and find information within their team and organization. Although KM isn’t a new idea or philosophy in the workplace, it’s gained popularity among legal departments because of the many benefits it provides, including but not limited to:

  • Highly optimized and streamlined internal processes
  • Reduced time spent on duplicate work
  • Increased collaboration among team members (ensuring everyone’s on the same page)

It’s also worth noting that KM doesn’t just include general information like templates, contracts, and other agreements. It also includes more intrinsic information that lives in the minds of the people who work in their specific in-house legal roles every day. For instance, understanding what it’s like to work with a particular firm. The relationship with the partner is just as useful as the contract that formalizes the partnership between the two teams.

By breaking out your KM into tacit – things like experience, client information, and skills – and explicit – things like contracts, policies, case law, and legislation – your team can better understand how each member works and operates as an individual and together as a whole.

Why is Legal Knowledge Management Important?

Referring back to this year’s CLOC event, one speaker shared a tangible (and very relatable) reason why legal KM is so important – cost. “I hear too many stories of in-house counsel who pay for the same research or other legal work twice because they have no way to track prior outside counsel work.”

This quote shows that effective KM has a direct impact on your business’s bottom line. Forbes Magazine shared that an estimated $31.5 billion is lost by Fortune 500 companies due to poor KM each year. Additionally, $7,000 is lost per employee per year, time spent searching for and re-creating knowledge that could otherwise be efficiently shared with improved KM. When you dive into these numbers even further, the average employee can spend up to 2.5 hours each day searching for information – that’s 30% of the workday! Imagine what else you or your team could accomplish if you could get that time back; if you could reduce, or in some cases, eliminate administrative and research-related work.

KM Benefits Drive Change in Legal Operations Departments

Beyond the cost of poor KM, organizations that implement efficient KM processes benefit from:

  • Increased team productivity
  • More informed and faster decision making
  • Reduced risk related to immediate and future tasks
  • Departmental innovation and growth

Knowledge management is just one more way that legal operations teams can drive change within their department and throughout their organization as a whole.

Interested in learning other ways to drive change, better manage spend, and enhance collaboration across your in-house legal team and with your law firms? Take a look at SimpleLegal, a modern legal operations platform that helps you manage your invoices, legal spend, matters, vendors, and more – schedule a demo today!

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