Law Firms as Knowledge Organizations

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6 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 1 μήνα)

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Law Firms as Knowledge
Organizations

Paul D. Callister
, JD, MSLIS

Director of the Leon E. Bloch Law Library & Associate Professor of Law

UMKC School of Law



This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution
-
NoDerivs 2.5 License
.

Scenario 1

The senior partner, my father, asked me to prepare a private
placement securities offering in California, Nevada, Utah and
Arizona for a firm which would contract for pharmaceuticals
trials. He indicated that a similar multi
-
state private placement
had been prepared by another attorney in the firm, my cousin,
Stephen and suggested that I look at it as a model.

In speaking with Stephen, he indicated he had done the
private placement for a client named “Milbank Moncrief” and
handed me a stack of archive floppy disks and told me that
the documents were prepared prior to networking the firm’s
computers, on a PC which was, long since out of use.
[Continued]

Scenario 1
-

Continued

Unfortunately, the disks were difficult to use. File names were
non
-

standardized. Each file was a WordPerfect document,
without an identifying (“wpd”) extension and could not be
readily searched because of conversion issue to Microsoft
-
oriented products. Furthermore, several of the disks were
corrupt. I gave up after forty
-
five minutes of frustration.

Turing to the firm’s print files, I was unable to locate the
documents in Milbank Moncrief’s files. Fortunately, Stephen
suggested I call a retired secretary, who used to manage the
files. She suggested that the document might be under “Fruit
of the Loom.” Apparently, because Moncrief’s files had gotten
too fat, and separate files for several of his business entities,
including “Fruit of the Loom, Corp.” had been started. In one
of these, I found the private placement document.

D

I

K

Law Firms as Knowledge Organizations

Descriptors



Data:

collection,
preservation, integrity,
migration, compatibility



Information:

access,
authentication and version
control, information retrieval
systems, indexing, metadata,
architecture, interface,
design, data mining


Knowledge:

tacit
,
relationships, incentives,
policies, not “reinventing the
wheel”, continuing education,
communication and cultural
barriers, tracking
work flow

Data

Information

Knowledge

Law Firms as Knowledge Organizations

Culture/Human
Beings

Technology/

Media

Scenario 2

The senior partner, Margaret, hurried into an associate’s office
indicating that a client had called and was unhappy because
work had not been completed to qualify a non
-
profit
corporation for exemption from taxation under IRC
§

501(c)(3).
The associate, Jako, indicated that he asked a secretary,
Harvey, to file articles of incorporation and had asked another
secretary, Gertrude, to type up Form 1023 for filing with IRS.
On checking with two secretaries, Gertrude indicated that
Form 1023 had been filed out, signed by the client, and
forwarded to the IRS.

Only then did Jako remember that he had spoken with an IRS
agent reviewing the application about a problem in the articles
of incorporation, which needed to be amended. He had been
busy with a demanding project for another partner, and so he
hadn’t followed up with Harvey to see if the amendment had
been prepared. [Continued]

Scenario 2
-

Continued

Unfortunately, Harvey was on vacation, and so Jako had to
sheepishly call client to determine if he had received an
amendment had been sent to the client for signing. This set
the client off. The client demanded to know why he was being
asked what the status of the project was. “Didn’t the firm know
what was going on?”

Jako apologized and personally prepared the amendment,
overnight the documents for signing. Unfortunately, after
submitting the amended articles to the IRS the file sat
unanswered because the agent on the case had retired. The
firm again did not catch the problem, and the client again
made an angry phone call to the senior partner, who this time,
asked Jako to come to her office.

What is KM?


Not Out
-
of
-
the
-
Box Software


Not an
Online Application


Business Philosophy: The principle value of an
organization is what (and who) it knows, not what it
owns.

What is KM?

“The only sustainable advantage a firm has
comes from what it collectively knows, how
efficiently it uses what it knows, and how
readily it acquires and uses new
knowledge.”

Thomas Davenport and Laurence Prusak

Cited in Matthew Parsons,
Effective Knowledge Management for Law
Firms
, 4 (Oxford University Press, 2004)


How does one measure the value of a law firm?

How does one measure the value of a law firm? Not by
the real estate, equipment or other tangible assets it
owns. . . . Not by its individual lawyers
--

they are
constantly leaving or retiring, and new ones (hopefully)
are constantly being added. Not even by its client roster.
. . . Instead, the true value of a law firm is in its collective
knowledge. Knowledge of the law, knowledge of its
capabilities, knowledge of its client needs and of its
competitors. A firm's effectiveness turns on how well its
lawyers can bring their collective knowledge to bear in
their client's behalf and how well the firm can use this
knowledge to market its services.

Rovner, J.R.(1999). Building the Smart Law Firm: Guidelines for Effective Management of Legal Knowledge
Management. In
Daily Journal Legal Works, The Technology Answer Show, Los Angeles 1999, Conference and
Exhibition

(pp. 133
-
138) Little Falls, NJ: Glasner Legal Works.

Architecture

-

Designing Document Libraries


Every item of information you can envision adding to the system
fits comfortably into one of your categories or subcategories;


Every list of items within a subcategory is
mutually exclusive
(
i.e.
, no item on the list would fit equally well in another
subcategory's list) and
collectively exhaustive

(i.e., the list is
complete);


The user can navigate to any item of information with three or
fewer mouse clicks, regardless of the starting point;


The user can navigate to any item on a list with little or no
scrolling.


Rovner, J.R.(1999).
Building the Smart Law Firm: Guidelines for Effective Management of Legal Knowledge
Management. In Daily Journal Legal Works, The Technology Answer Show
, Los Angeles 1999, Conference
and Exhibition (p. 135) Little Falls, NJ: Glasner Legal Works.

Recommended Reading


Botkin, J. (1999).


Smart Business:


How Knowledge Communities
can Revolutionize Your Company

(p.162).


New York, NY:


The Free
Press.


Burchard, B. (1999, October).
Intangible Assets + Hard Numbers
=


Soft Finance
. Fast Company.


Harvard Business Review On Knowledge Management

(1998).
Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Paperback.


Matthew Parsons,
Effective Knowledge Management for Law Firms
,
(Oxford University Press, 2004)


Rovner, J.R.(1999).
Building the Smart Law Firm: Guidelines for
Effective Management of Legal Knowledge Management
. In
Daily
Journal Legal Works, The Technology Answer Show, Los Angeles
1999, Conference and Exhibition.

Little Falls, NJ: Glasner Legal
Works.


O'Dell, C. & Grayson, C.J., Jr. (1998).
If Only We Knew What We
Know:


The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice.

New York,
NY:


The Free Press
.


Recommended Reading

The End


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