November 7, 2011
Kim Stein, National Manager, West Software Solutions, and Craig Larson, Senior Director of West Product Development, recently attended the 7th Annual Ark Group/Managing Partner’s Annual Knowledge Management Conference in New York. With their combined industry knowledge, paired with another impressive conference agenda from the Ark Group, it’s no surprise that they have a number of interesting takeaways and industry insights to share all in the name of Knowledge Management (KM). It was our pleasure to sit down with them and get a taste of what they were hearing.
Q: Are there any new or notable trends emerging in Knowledge Management (KM)?
A: (KS) Yes, as you would expect, a notable topic that continues to be discussed in the KM community are Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) and how firms are looking to establish more processes around this new model, and how KM can help make it a profitable offering. Firms are in need of additional tools, such as West km, to help manage the changing environment of the legal profession and knowledge management departments are looking for new and meaningful ways to tie themselves to firm revenue using knowledge management solutions and other business improvement tools.
A: (CL) KM is continuing to evolve beyond creating precedent libraries, beyond reuse of legal research and work product, and beyond technology infrastructure. It’s about utilizing the knowledge management solutions as tools to improve communication and client collaboration, and have a measurable positive impact on quality and efficiency of service. Firms are looking at KM software and related productivity tools as a means for process improvement combined with Legal Project Management. Now it’s all about finding the right solutions and approach to offer true service efficiencies that will set them apart from other firms.
Q: In your opinion, how is West km keeping up with technology trends?
A: (KS) West km continues to be a key player in the KM discussion. In particular, as we move into 2012, West km is looking forward to providing more substantive metadata extraction points, more advanced WestlawNext integration, increased focus on efficiency tools, and continued integration with leading 3rd party vendors in Enterprise Search and Document Management Systems. It’s the investment in integration and collaborative tools that continue to make West km an efficient, profitable solution for these firms. In addition, I see the mobile developments in West km as yet another way we are extending efficiencies beyond the traditional concept of Knowledge Management.
Q: Any other interesting facts or key learnings from the sessions at Ark?
A: (CL) There were a number of interesting customer panel discussions, and very substantive conversations regarding the general counsel’s view of how important KM is and will continue to be.
We heard a lot of discussion around how to embrace business process mapping and outcome evaluation (including client surveys and attorney business performance metrics) as additional ways to improve client services and increase firm efficiency. It’s apparent that leading law firms are continuing to look to their investment in KM as a key way to improve client focus and to sharpen the firm’s value proposition to its clients.