With a change in client demands, law firms have to rethink their practices. They need to adopt technologies that can help them operate and serve their clients better.
One such aspect that calls for change is how lawyers handle legal knowledge. In this guide, we’re introducing legal knowledge management, and how it can help law firms get one step closer to a more efficient legal practice.
What is Legal Knowledge Management?
Legal knowledge management is the process through which law firms can capture, combine and leverage their team’s collective knowledge. Instead of working individually, the team members can work as a united front. They can share their know-how, opinion and information in a streamlined manner.
Simply put, legal knowledge management is the process of collecting, organising, distributing and using the information from different documents and human knowledge under a centralised system.
Legal Knowledge Management uses pre-defined forms, sharing tools and templates to make information sharing easier for team members. They can also consolidate the client files, databases, contracts and research for seamless access.
Why is Legal Knowledge Management valuable?
For lawyers, knowledge is currency. They do not charge a fee for a product; they charge for their counsel and information. For a majority of legal teams, this precious currency remains scattered among team members, hardcopies and hard drives. This unorganised knowledge can significantly delay the decision-making process in the firm, costly the team hundreds of billable hours.
Further, knowledge is, for the most part, not a controllable asset. However much the team communicates efficiently, this knowledge can get archived into each individual’s mind. Additionally, communications of emails, messages and calls may get lost in transition or ‘trashed’ to make more space. All this may further cause only fragments of such information to travel from one colleague to another.
Moreover, large and multinational corporates expect their GCs and legal teams to be well-aware of the legal data flowing between their multiple branches. Without a central knowledge-sharing system, law firms and legal teams cannot ardently access and share this vital information in real-time with each other.
By incorporating a good knowledge management system, law firms can avoid all that. It eliminates the threat of legal information getting scattered or lost in the information maze. It also makes it easier to associate a piece of information with its source. The information also becomes protected and hidden from unwanted data threats and misuse.
What Knowledge Management can do for law firms
A strong knowledge management system can do wonders for a law firm. Not only does it make a methodical process, but it also turns it into a more cost-efficient one. Here is what a good legal knowledge management system can do for a law firm:
Improve delivery of legal services
The first and foremost improvement a Legal Knowledge Management system brings to a law firm is increasing its efficiency. With a more focused and “one-track mind” process, team members can work faster and deliver legal services more efficiently. It also allows the firm to increase its service quality as it can allocate resources more carefully to each matter. The firm can also standardise its services since it frees up its time, thereby allowing it to serve more clients.
Higher client satisfaction
The baseline for any legal professional is to serve their client to the best of their capabilities and as per the client’s requirements. With a knowledge management framework, the law firm can address the needs of its clients confidently. It can also reduce the services’ turnaround time by speeding up the firm’s internal decision-making and operational processes.
Uninterrupted flow of knowledge
With a repository of all the legal knowledge, the law firm can operate with less overheads that are otherwise spent in retrieving and processing existing knowledge when applying it in future cases y. A free flow of information and legal resources also allows team members to coordinate and collaborate more efficiently. This efficiency not only benefits the law firm but also makes services more efficient for the firm’s clients. They get a higher value for money, which in turn, allows the firm to maintain a long-term and returning client base.
Timely utilisation of resources
A legal knowledge management system also allows lawyers to locate and utilise their legal resources in a timely fashion. Since the team knows where it can find the required information and knowledge, it can quickly move ahead and reduce the overall time taken to complete various tasks.
Harnessing peer knowledge
Oftentimes, interns, junior associates and other subordinate team members are not able to leverage the knowledge of senior partners in the firm. This gap often prevents them from learning from the experience and expertise of seasoned team members.
A legal knowledge management system eliminates this problem. It allows the team to harness the know-how of senior members by providing the team with an avenue to raise information requests, take notes, assign tasks and track what other users have added to the firm’s knowledge bank.
How lawyers can adopt a Legal Knowledge Management system
Incorporating a knowledge management framework is easier than ever for first-time users. There is an array of LKM systems for lawyers, law firms and legal teams to employ for more systematic management of their legal information.
The best way for lawyers and law firms to adopt a legal knowledge management system is to opt for a ready-made LKM interface. Numerous legal tech startups offer knowledge management solutions as per the varying needs of individual lawyers, small law firms, and large legal houses.
For law firms and lawyers, knowledge management is like a central brain that stores all their legal data from different resources. It can help them improve their efficiency multiple times, and also reduce the resource investment in some tasks that otherwise take a toll on their time and budget. Not to forget, it is one of the many legal tech tools that can help them improve their efficiency, retain a loyal customer base and survive in this fiercely competitive market.
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