Articles Posted in Knowledge Mgt.

Published on:

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?

Published on:

According to this London-based company’s website and ads, GTDTonline provides in-house counsel with summaries of laws and regulations in 43 practice areas and more than 120 jurisdictions. The summaries explain “the most important legal and regulatory matters that arise in business deals and disputes worldwide.”

In-house counsel are eligible for a free GTDT Online password providing full access to the website.

This could be taken as an example of capital invested outside the United States in legal services, delivered worldwide by the internet, and thus a challenge to the privileged position of lawyers in the States.

Published on:

A well-known consultant in Austria to law departments, Dr. Franz Brandstetter, has published a book on law department management. He provided me with this short description of his book.

“The objective of Rechtsabteilung & Unternehmenserfolg – a management book – is to provide support for in house lawyers and legal departments work. It helps to identify value driven core competences, to develop a legal departments strategy and to optimise business processes and quality of work. The book is supplemented by about 20 examples written by experienced general counsels from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.”

Published on:

All of us who care about management in legal departments are grateful to learn what specific departments have done to address specific issues. From “YYY Company hired partners who are twins because it is easier to figure them out,” to “ZZZ Company put shredders next to each paralegal’s desk to gain 15% productivity,” all real-life examples help us learn, but not a whole lot.

Single instances of something, or even a “trend” of two or three instances touted by a journalist or consultant, can give little confidence in the underlying explanation. We can’t rely on the accuracy of descriptions, the objectivity of authors, the fullness of context, or cause-and-effect conclusions. Only if we can study the phenomenon broadly can we hope to generalize learning.

A theory about management needs to be testable: “the theory must make predictions which, if the theory were false, could be contradicted by the outcome of some possible observation.” This comes from David Deutsch, in The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations that Transform the World (Viking 2011) at 13.

Published on:

After I noticed several visitors who reached this blog from Linex Systems, I looked at its website. A law department case study caught my eye and gives some background on a productivity tool for law departments. David Byrne is Head of Knowledge Management for BT Group’s legal department. Working with a team of 130 lawyers, he is always searching for “ways for our people to do more with less effort.”

With a distributed workforce, BT Legal relies on technology to make up for the lack of face-to-face contact. For example, the company became one of the first to adopt Linex Smart Alerts.

At BT they see Linex Smart Alerts as an important business tool: “We use it to share knowledge and work together. The system allows the company to monitor content from its panel of law firms, as well as tracking information from thousands of other sources.” BT has integrated the system closely with its own SharePoint site. Information appears there directly, so lawyers do not have to log in to Linex themselves.

Published on:

Informal get-togethers at lunch, sometimes known as brown bag lunches and sometimes referred to as lunch-and-learns, can serve a variety of purposes. Low cost, convivial, flexible, they offer many pluses, although they also impinge on people’s personal time.

My previous posts have touched on them in terms of improving morale, training and educating, communicating policies, and helping interns feel at home (See my post of April 14, 2005: boost morale with brown bag lunches; May 1, 2005: spread CLE knowledge to the rest of the law department; July 9, 2007: technology Lunch & Learns; Jan. 2, 2009: knowledge management with lunch-and-learns; Dec. 7, 2009: interns at Bristol Myers Squibb; and Dec. 17, 2010: Shell and learning lunches.).

Published on:

Amy Fox holds the title of Lead Knowledge Management Counsel in the Legal and Corporate Affairs department at Intel. We learn that because Fox will be speaking at an upcoming Ark conference, Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession on October 26-27 in New York City. Four observations result.

One: Fox is the only representative from a legal department among the many law firm and consultant speakers. The role is unusual.

Two: That Fox is Intel’s “Lead” knowledge management lawyer suggests there are others.

Published on:

Let’s not be economic determinists when we think of law department management

A framework or model consists of a set of concepts, while a theory explains how, why, and when the concepts are related. A useful theory explains and predicts.

One framework to explain law departments and how they operate relies on economics. Input and output, costs of resources, return on investment and other analytic tools of economists have appeal as useful and explanatory.

Published on:

To this point I have located 33 books about law department management (See my post of Nov. 16, 2009: approximately 32 books about law departments with 8 references; and March 29, 2010: Trevor Faure’s The Smarter Legal Model.).

Two more have recently come to my attention. Leadership and Management Challenges of In-House Legal Counsel, the first book in Australia which is wholly dedicated to the in-house legal profession, is edited by Prof. Benny Tabalujan (LexisNexis Australia, 2008) contains 11 chapters from in-house counsel and consultants in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Courageous Counsel is the book that Michelle Coleman Mayes, the general counsel of Allstate, has co-authored with Kara Baysinger, a partner at SNR Denton. It is about the history of women GCs, according to InsideCounsel, May 2011 at 68, and is due for publication in September.

Published on:

A corporate lawyer at Brown Brothers Harriman, Florian Feder, has created a legal wiki, It provides a free depository of sophisticated legal documents. According to Robert Ambrogi, who wrote about this resource on June 3, 2011, “Notably, the site is not intended to serve as a cache of ready-to-use legal forms. Instead, its founder hopes that the wiki feature — which allows anyone to add and edit forms — will provide a vehicle for lawyers to improve the forms and lead to a consensus of what they should say.

The wiki has fewer than 10 forms posted so far, including some often-used agreements. Feder describes himself as “interested in the art (science?) of contract drafting and in ways of making this process more efficient with the help of new technologies.” I am grateful to Vince Polley and KnowConnect PLLC for bringing Ambrogi’s post to my attention.