Knowledge management efforts falter since they are perceived as a tax on a lawyer’s personal “income”

Think of experience and learning as a lawyer’s income – they work and they get paid in knowledge – and then think of efforts to harvest and give away that knowledge as a tax. This analogy occurred to me when an interviewee in a consulting project offered an explanation for the failure of knowledge management to take hold. “Lawyers don’t want to contribute their ‘intellectual property’ to the common good.”

“It’s mine, mine, and I don’t want to give up any of it!” That conveys the stickiest obstacle: lawyers who have worked long and diligently to master an area of law and its practices feel that their hard-earned knowledge is their personal recompense (and retirement pool, i.e., job protection). Knowledge management efforts tax it, a redistribution that not only helps those poorer in knowledge but also takes time for the taxpayer to file. Sure, all of us benefit from governmental services, but who volunteers to pay more taxes?

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