Knowledge Management Software has Come of Age…Now What?

August 29, 2016

When an initiative like knowledge management rolls off the tongues of the law firm C-suite, you know ittech has come of age as part of the firm’s fabric and culture. Just because many large law firms launched knowledge management in or around 2002 doesn’t mean it is relegated to the museum.

In fact, knowledge management strategy has become more of a holistic approach. Management and partners are each active in further integration of knowledge management at every layer of the firm to address price pressures from demanding clients, to prevent 30 years of legal experience from walking out the door, and to boost efficiency and productivity throughout practice groups.

New legal market economics are fueling resurgence in knowledge management software. What that means for those who procure knowledge management software is an opportunity to help litigation and transactional law seize competitive positioning.

The adoption of knowledge management solutions helps redefine efficiencies in research, while also improving quality of work and the value of client service. Attorneys realize enhanced productivity and collaboration, with a firm’s treasure trove of best-practice documents, being more readily accessible. In addition, firms that understand the depth of what’s available in knowledge management software are more prepared to stay ahead of disruption in legal technology.

Knowledge management tools are continuously being innovated. New features align with requests for a more streamlined user experience to meet growing demands in the practice of law and to address slow adoption rates for technology throughout the legal sector. As the sector grows and technology is forcing change, law firms are realizing they are in the knowledge business, with enormous opportunity to deliver value to clients with the enhanced learning power knowledge management provides.

On the flip side of users are librarians now known as knowledge management experts who manage firm libraries, competitive intelligence, and information services. This cadre of specialists is accountable for making adoption of knowledge management software a priority. In addition, continued utilization throughout the firm remains the number one challenge. Once knowledge management software, such as West km®, is deployed, teams inside the law firm are tasked to ensure the best user experience with the right training and utilization long term.

The view from here is “oldie and still goodie“; yet, perspectives throughout the ranks of the law firm vary. From summers and first-years to laterals, associates, and partners, adoption of knowledge management is as varied as a maze runner. And, then, there are the millennials, often thrust into their own unique category by way of their software adoption …or lack thereof.

Regardless of their position in the law firm, attorneys cannot go it alone. They require assistance from knowledge management professionals who continuously put the value of software benefits and training front and center.

Aversion to Adoption

How can knowledge management be all things to all people and why the aversion to adoption?

In a Law Technology Today article, “Examining Legal Tech Adoption, Part 1“ published Sept. 28, 2015, author Mary Juetten explores why law firms and the legal industry at large are so averse to quicker adoption of technology.

She shares, “The overarching principle is that the adoption of legal technology is not just a sales process; it’s change … Everyone clings to some resistance to change, even when many legal technologies have been proven to both improve client experience and increase revenue.”

Firms that invest in knowledge management tools know the value it brings as they grapple daily with adoption, training, usage, and retention. While the jury may still be out, West km is still quite in and regarded as a necessity and competitive edge for leading U.S. large law firms to assist in the practice of litigation and transactional law.

More and more, clients dictate the billable hour, and it’s up to the smartest firms to deploy technology solutions that ride the cutting edge of efficiency to develop a profit model. Where we help push the envelope with knowledge management is with legal profiling. West km for Enterprise Search helps unlock the best thinking from the depths of the practice area. No other tool has the ability to couple document search with legal research. It’s our secret sauce that promotes value for all attorneys in a firm, and we’re continuing to enhance that experience.

Next-generation knowledge management is less about a decision to purchase software and more about ongoing adoption.