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Workarounds on knowledge management for law departments – pull it don’t push it

By now, with all the frustrated initiatives and years of lassitude, let’s just accept that in-house counsel couldn’t care less about contributing to departmental knowledge bases (See my post of March 5, 2005: no altruistic information sharing.). Not if they have to do anything to donate material. You can try to make it easy for them to chip in, such as with dictation equipment, voice recognition, and tagging, but they are still unlikely to push content out.

The best techniques for obtaining knowledge from in-house lawyers are to pull learning in, with extractive technologies. Let software sort through documents and e-mails that are created in the ordinary course of business and pull out what ought to be stored in a database. Marry that with capable search technology and you have yourself a knowledge repository of some usefulness (See my posts of March 5, 2005 on Google Desktop; Dec. 10, 2005 on search software; Feb. 4, 2006 on e-mail search tools; and Feb. 19, 2006 on concept search software.).

You can also siphon off knowledge through efforts of non-lawyers tasked with selecting useful information. Alternatively or additionally, a document-management system unobtrusively pulls, makes available, and stores precedent files (See my post of Dec. 6, 2007: document management with 15 references.).