Monday, August 20, 2007

How Wikis, Blogs and Discussion Forums Relate to Knowledge Management in the Legal Field

  • Lisa Kellar Gianakos, Practice Consultant of Hunton & Williams
  • Gloria Fox of Blank Rome LLP
  • Dennis Kennedy of The Dennis Kennedy Law Firm LLC
  • Kevin O'Keefe, President and Founder of Lexblog and author of Real Lawyers Have Blogs

Dennis Kennedy started with a background on blogs, wikis and RSS/Atom.

Dave Snowden's rules of knowledge management:
  1. Knowledge can only be volunteered, it cannot be conscripted.

  2. We know than we can say and we can say more than we can write.

  3. We only know what we know when we need to know it.
Dennis calls a blog an online newspaper or magazine, without the newspaper or magazine.

Kevin O' Keefe thinks of a blog as an online discussion. He is an advocate of lawyers setting up RSS feeds and searches on the lawyer, the law firm, and their clients. (I have a Google alert searching my name and this website sent to me daily.) He took the audience through the steps to engage in Web2.0 [See my post on Learning Web2.0]

He took the audience through examples of law firm blogs and the benefits of law firms blogging. He pointed out that the associate who runs Maryland Intellectual Property Law Blog for Blank Rome, gets read by his clients, gets asked to speak at seminars and calls from the media. It also rapidly expanding his expertise. All the research and thinking about the subject expands his expertise.

He claims that lawyers find blogging to be fun. "Personal but Professional."

Gloria took on wikis. She notes that blogs and wikis harness the network effects and helps to identify expertise. These tools are sharing expertise by publishing. When thinking about a wiki or blog initiative, you need to attack it from both ends. You need management approval to recognize the tools and to revise firm policy if prohibits this form of publishing.

Blank Rome set up a summer associate blog to help convey information to them and to try to capture their experience.

The library is big user of wikis to capture the way they found information. The library plays a key role in setting up blogs, wikis and RSS feeds.

She pointed out the benefit of tracking projects in a wiki or blog. At the team meetings, people already have an update of project status and can focus on better discussion within the group.

Dennis moved on to selecting tools. He thinks that wikis can be hard for lawyers. It is a different way of thinking for lawyers. The content keeps getting built upon and edited by others. Lawyers like to hold onto the content and control editing. He sees people doing a lot of experimenting in the area, because so many of the tools are cheap and easy.

One general theme was that these tools are still very new to law firms and are just starting to be adopted in dribs and drabs by law firms, internally and externally.


  1. Hi Doug,

    I'm just setting up one now internally on Sharepoint 2007 to help market the Knowledge Management and Practice Management efforts here - and hoping it will inspire others to want to start them. Is anyone else doing one at Goodwin Proctor? I'm enjoying reading your blog.

  2. Guy -

    Thanks for reading.

    We are deploying our Sharepoint 2007 platform in March. We have identified a few areas that are ripe for wikis to start and show people.

    As we are experimenting outside, we have been reluctant to get into the legal practices. It will be difficult to migrate a wiki across platforms.

    However, in the KM group's relationship with IT many of them are using our KM wiki to track and manage projects.



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