Five benefits of knowledge networks for the law department industry

Members of law departments can take part in different kinds of knowledge networks. They may belong to an association (See my posts of May 30, 2005 and Dec. 19, 2005 about associations and networks of law firms), they may join an online community, they may take part in projects such as the UTBMS task force or the Sedona Conference (See my post of Feb. 18, 2007 about the Corporate Forum.).

Networks, according to the Harv. Bus. Rev., Vol. 85, Feb. 2007 at 48, lend themselves to at least five basic tasks. I will take the liberty of translating Christopher Meyer’s tasks into legal department examples.

A network can “scan the horizon,” such as when a group of law departments that handle environmental issues share what their members learn about state and federal enforcement activity. Networks can “help solve problems,” such as when someone in an association asks if anyone else has had experience with a certain consultant. A network can “innovate for its own benefit,” such as when members come up with a new approach for technique. A network can “exert influence,” such as when several law departments lobby for enhancements by a software provider. And a network can “allocate resources,” such as when the head of a community of practice decides who should work on a new problem.

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