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Knowledge management efforts work best at the practice group level

Every law department that tries to institute a knowledge management program thinks of department-wide efforts. “Let’s set up an intranet for the legal department!” “Let’s put in document management!” “Let’s create a memo repository!” Those across-the-board efforts almost always peter out, lead to spotty participation, and usually languish (See my post of May 19, 2011: collective action problems.)

If a department has several lawyers who handle similar problems, such as government contracts, that group will have a far better chance of implementing some kind of knowledge capture and dissemination. They have more reason to pitch in for the common good. What they collect is more tailored to their needs, and peer pressure operates more acutely (See my post of July 25, 2005: knowledge management and communities of practice; Sept. 10, 2005: practice groups and communities of interest; and Jan. 2, 2009: grass roots knowledge management.).