You are here:
  1. Home
  2. News
  3. Blog
  4. Keeping your firm in the know

Keeping your firm in the know

25 November 2015

Markus Coleman explains the three simple steps to effective knowledge management for your firm.


Step 1: centralise

First, take inventory of the knowledge you already have, and centralise it. Bringing all your subscriptions, information services, process notes, etc into one place will enable you to:

  • identify duplication and waste
  • spot gaps in the information available to your staff, and
  • retain knowledge in the event of losing staff members

For example, a firm might have several subscriptions to a publication that were set up by different people, or your firm might still be paying for a subscription that is no longer necessary but has somehow managed to escape the axe.

Going through the firm, systematically identifying both resources and needs, shouldn't take that long, provided at least one person takes ownership of the task.

Once you have identified the various needs within your firm, there are many useful tools that can help you manage this knowledge and information.

These range from highly customizable but somewhat complicated enterprise systems like Microsoft's SharePoint, to free but perhaps less powerful services like Google Docs. Both of these also support version control - perfect for documents that require collaboration or a sign-off process - that will help to de-clutter your inbox from those countless versions of that same document.

Step 2: source

If you are not fully informed on need-to-know issues, this could cause your firm to lose a pitch, hinder your staff from performing at their best, or even land your firm in trouble with regulators.

For example, keeping tabs on competitors will increase a firm's chances of outmanoeuvring them when pitching for a client, while the relevant fee-earners will need to know what that new, key client has been and is up to. Likewise, lawyers need to be kept abreast of new and changing regulations and guidance.

There are several 'out of the box' solutions that can assist firms to keep up to speed on developments that matter to them and, naturally, make sure that the latest Law Society practice note is caught and devoured as soon as it is published.

Services such as Lexis PSL and Practical Law provide easy-to-use web-based services that tap into various news sources (national and international media, Google news, BAILII, gov.co.uk, etc) and offer automated news feeds, available on the web 24/7 and emailed straight into your inbox at your chosen time of the day.

Companies like Linex Systems also allow you to point to a webpage of your choice, be it a company, regulator, or journal, to name but a few examples. The information source will thereafter be continually monitored, while collated emails will notify you of any new content on the pages that matter to you.

By providing high levels of customisation and exhaustive yet relevant alerts for departments and individuals, such subscription-based services are particularly useful for smaller firms that might not have professional support lawyers (PSLs).

Step 3: share

The next step is embedding into your organisational culture a habit of sharing knowledge and systems for connecting important information with those who need it. An army of PSLs is not a prerequisite to keeping ahead of the curve in the fast-paced worlds of law, business or regulation, as services like those mentioned above can deliver many of the same outcomes.

It should be noted that the work involved in centralising, designing and implementing knowledge and information sharing systems is front loaded, as it does take some time and effort to identify the right sources and set up relevant alerts for each recipient. Firms should for this reason always appoint a KM champion or give ownership of knowledge-based services to at least one individual so that momentum is not lost amidst the fog of everyday legal work.

Of course, any automated news system should also be reviewed regularly to ensure there are no new relevant sources, while you should also be aware of the risks involved in any cloud-based computer services.

But the beauty of KM solutions is that once the initial set up is done, the sharing becomes automatic, and the need-to-know news will drop into your inbox in real time or whenever it's convenient to you.

Small steps can bring big rewards

Law firms are particularly knowledge-intensive and information-hungry organisations, which is why firms can gain a competitive advantage by successfully embedding KM practices into their organisational culture. Simple steps like the above can deliver significant wins for law firms, both large and small.

To ensure your firm has good systems in place, you could consider applying for the Law Society's Lexcel Standard, which helps practices develop consistent operational efficiencies and client services, manage risk effectively, reduce costs and promote profitability.

Tags: business | strategy | knowledge management

About the author

Markus Coleman is the digital editorial manager at the Law Society, responsible for the editorial functions across the Law Society website and various e-communications. Markus has nine years' experience of working in online publishing and has a keen interest in technology and online tools that can assist professionals in the workplace.

  • Share this page:
Authors

Adam Johnson | Adele Edwin-Lamerton | Alex Barr | Alex Heshmaty | Alexandra Cardenas | Amanda Carpenter | Amanda Jardine Viner | Amy Heading | Andrew Kidd | Andy Harris | Anna Drozd | Annaliese Fiehn | Anne Waldron | Asif Afridi and Roseanne Russell | Bansi Desai | Barbara Whitehorne | Barry Wilkinson | Becky Baker | Ben Hollom | Bob Nightingale | Caroline Roddis | Caroline Sorbier | Catherine Dixon | Christina Blacklaws | Ciaran Fenton | David Gilroy | David Yeoward | Douglas McPherson | Dr Sylvie Delacroix | Duncan Wood | Eduardo Reyes | Elizabeth Rimmer | Emily Miller | Emma Maule | Gary Richards | Gary Rycroft | Graham Murphy | Hayley Stewart | Ignasi Guardans | James Castro Edwards | Jayne Willetts | Jeremy Miles | Jerry Garvey | Jessie Barwick | Joe Egan | Jonathan Andrews | Jonathan Fisher | Jonathan Smithers | Julian Hall | Julie Ashdown | Julie Nicholds | Justin Rourke | Karen Jackson | Kate Adam | Kayleigh Leonie | Keiley Ann Broadhead | Kerrie Fuller | Kevin Poulter | Larry Cattle | Laura Devine | Leah Glover and Julie Ashdown | LHS Solicitors | Lucy Parker | Mark Carver | Mark Leiser | Markus Coleman | Martin Barnes | Matthew Still | Meena Toor | Melissa Hardee | Neil Ford | Nick Denys | Nick Podd | Pearl Moses | Penny Owston | Peter Wright | Philippa Southwell | Preetha Gopalan | Rachel Brushfield | Ranjit Uppal | Richard Coulthard | Richard Heinrich | Richard Messingham | Richard Miller | Richard Roberts | Rita Oscar | Rob Cope | Robert Bourns | Robin Charrot | Rosy Rourke | Saida Bello | Sam De Silva | Sara Chandler | Sarah Austin | Sarah Crowe | Sarah Henchoz | Sarah Smith | Shereen Semnani | Sophia Adams Bhatti | Steve Deutsch | Steve Deutsche | Stuart Poole-Robb | Susan Kench | Suzanne Gallagher | Tom Ellen | Tony Roe Solicitors | Vanessa Friend

Tags

access to justice | anti-money laundering | apprenticeships | archive | artificial intelligence | Autumn Statement | bid process | brand | Brexit | British Bill of Rights | Budget | business | careers | centenary | charity | city | communication | Conservatives | conveyancing | court closures | court fees | courts | CPD | criminal legal aid | cyber security | David Cameron | development | Diversity Access Scheme | diversity and inclusion | education and training | elderly people | emotional resilience | employment law | equality | European Union | Excellence Awards | finance | George Osborne | human rights | human trafficking | immigration | in-house | International Womens Day | Investigatory Powers Bill | IT | Jeremy Corbyn | justice | knowledge management | Labour | law management | Law Society | leadership | legal aid | legal professional privilege | LGBT | Liberal Democrats | library | Liz Truss | Magna Carta | mass data retention | mediation | members | mention | mentoring | merger | modern slavery | morale | National Pro Bono Week | Parliament | party conferences | personal injury | Pii | politics | president | pro bono | productivity | professional indemnity insurance | represent | retweet | risk | rule of law | security | social media | social mobility | SRA | staff | strategy | stress | talent | tax | tax credits | team | technology | Theresa May | Time capture | training | Twitter | UKIP | value proposition | website | wellbeing | Westminster weekly update | wills