I recently heard a veteran legal technologist describe what he saw as the three stages in law departments by which knowledge management. I will boldly add one more.
First there were simply tools installed, mostly databases and document repositories. Next firms and departments went beyond technology and content to gather insights and material about processes within specialty areas and practice groups.
According to him, as knowledge management has evolved into the third generation, it has become based on search technology. Tools are available within law departments to enable lawyers and paralegals to find material even though it has not been organized in a database or controlled with a taxonomic structure (See my post of March 5, 2005 on Google desktop; Dec. 10, 2005 on implicit search software; June 30, 2006 about new search tools; Feb. 19, 2006, May 14, 2005, March 6, 2007, and April 4, 2006 #4 about concept-search software; and Feb.25, 2007 about enterprise search capabilities.).
My sense is that the fourth generation of knowledge management in law departments will incorporate the internet and the vast accumulation of material about the practice of law that will be available free and on-line (See my posts of Nov. 15, 2005 about online resources; Jan. 10, 2006 on Google searches; and Jan. 13, 2006.).