Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Technology Integration – The New Face of Knowledge Management

OZ BENAMRAM, Director of Knowledge Management of Morrison & Foerster LLP

TOM BALDWIN, Chief Knowledge Officer of Reed Smith LLP

, Global Head of Know-How of Allen & Overy LLP

The session started off comparing Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and Knowledge Management 2.0. Oz started off looking at Web 2.0 technologies and mashing of information.

At Morrison & Foerster, they found associates went to Wikipedia first for information. The idea was to not necessarily rely on the information, but to give a starting point and background for the topic. Oz looked at Amazon and how it pushes other information around the things you are looking for.

Oz tried to define Web 2.0. It is de-centralized, the users generate the content. It is interconnected. You can access it with open standards. It is collaborative. Is is user-focused: a simple interface that you can personalize. The most important factor is that it is actionable: the information is timely and relevant.

The new face of law firm knowledge management has the goal of improving efficiency and the quality of service. They want to connect people to information, connect people to people and increase efficiency.

The challenge of today is not trying to get information. It is dealing with the overflow of information. There is too much. We need to add better context around the information to help decide if it is useful.

Moving on to Enterprise 2.0. The goal is to unite the repositories, giving the users one place to search. You need to give the users the ability to wrap metadata around the search results and filter on that metadata. You need the context to determine relevancy, experience and expertise. Oz gave a demo of his AnswerBase system: http://www.mofo.com/answerbase. This is Morrison Foerster's enterprise search tool using Recommind's Mindserver search engine. He set up a comparison of AnswerBase to Amazon in the ability to have a faceted search.

Oz also went on to show the ability of an entity extraction tool that helps auto-generate metadata on the documents. He cautioned that it is still experimental. [I found it interesting to compare this to Vivisomo's semantic clustering.]

Oz also showed his method for redoing the InterAction interface. It looks like he is capturing the information from InterAction and rendering it in a more friendly way.

He summarized with Knowledge Mangement 2.0, the that goal is the same, the challenges are intensified, the tools are improved but the user expectations are greater. Oz always has his videos and this time he used a video of Scotty (of the Starship Enterprise) from Star Trek IV trying to use a computer in the 1990's. In Star Trek fashion, Scotty tries talking to the computer, then talking into the mouse and the finally using the "quaint" keyboard. See the clip on YouTube. Users are expecting things to get easier to do. What seems like cutting edge today will one day seem quaint and old-fashioned.

The panel moved on to the United Kingdom perspective of the new face of law firm knowledge management and David's presentation.

The U.K. view of knowledge management links knowledge management closer to marketing than to IT. He points out that he has 71 practice support lawyers. Of course they still use technology: automated drafting systems, search and retrieval, dealrooms and extranets.

David broke down legal work into three categories: "standardized," "procedural" and "bespoke." "Standardized" are a delivery against specific requirement. Knowledge management here should focus on efficiency. "Procedural" is applying past deal experience to similar deals. Knowledge management is to turn expertise quickly into procedure. "Bespoke" is less based on prior knowledge, but the ability to promote superb expertise. Knowledge management's role to highlight that knowledge.

He stated that at least 70% of his attorneys are covered by blogs and wikis. [I think he meant that there are blogs or wikis on topics that interest at least 70% of the firm's lawyers.]

He showed an example of pushing content out to client using RSS feeds. He showed Netalytics, a joint venture with ISDA. This generates revenue delivering commoditized legal information.

He showed an extranet for the Banking Legal Technology site. It is an extranet that big banks forced the law firms to publish their client alerts to a central location. He drew a comparison to Legal OnRamp [I have a post lined up for Legal OnRamp later this week.]

They are working on Autonomy for an enterprise search tool. He sees enterprise search tool is that we will need to deal with more and more information.

Up next was Tom, focusing on putting it in context. [Since Tom just started a new job, switching from Sheppard Mullin to Reed Smith, he was not running his song and dance of tools he previously implemented. He was not able to show any KM toys to the audience.]

Tom's paradigm is wrapped around three spheres: what we know, who we know and what we need to know. He see technology helping by passively gathering data.

He pins the key to knowledge management on matter classification. He uses it as the glue to cover marketing, documents and other information architecture. One of his big projects is reconfiguring the matter classification schema. He is looking to bring in people to conduct after action reviews to gather information about matters. They would start the information gathering process after the hours for a matter have dropped off (indicating that the matter is finding down: closed, dead, settled, decided). [I agree with Tom. One of current initiatives is gathering more information about the matters we work on. You cannot impose many of requirements up front at the mattering opening process or else attorneys will just keep everything under general. And frankly, we often only have a limited idea of what the matter will entail when we open a new matter.]

He also thinks that attorneys are getting spammed internally. They are getting too many emails to deliver content. The email is out of context and interruptive. [As usual, I agree with Tom. I am looking to blogs, wikis and intranet delivery of more content in better context. I see very little internal administrative email that is so important it must make my blackberry buzz.]

He iterated, as other have, that lawyers will not go to training. We need to make easy to use and easy to understand tools.

Tom is getting 5 times as contact information from an automated system than through the manual process. They are harvesting information from email traffic. You can also leverage the the flow of emails to determine the strength of the connection. Oz said they he got four times the volume of contact information from monitoring email traffic. He pointed out that MoFo allowed people to opt out of the system.

The audience asked about KM 3.0. Oz thinks KM will integrate into the business information, workflow etc to more actively help in the decision-making process.


  1. Doug,

    Thanks for this wrap-up! Our group found it quite interesting.

    Some time ago, our Technology Steering Committee brought up the topic of too many Admin emails being delivered throughout the day. They asked for an innovative way to cut those numbers.

    Our solution was to develop a Sharepoint site with several announcement categories where each department can post their non-time-sensitive announcements.

    Each morning, a program runs that picks up all of the announcements for that day, compiles them and emails them out.

    We allow the departments to select options, such as "Very Important", "Repeat", "Weekly", "Monthly", etc, that control where each will appear in the email, when it will go out and if it should repeat.

    This system also handles office specific announcements and, when generating the emails, does so based on each office.

    The result? One email per day on admin issues instead of 20.

    It is not entirely successful (if someone will ignore 20 emails, they may also ignore the one!), but it has reduced the BB Buzz substantially.

    Dave Sampieri
    Director of Knowledge Management - Blank Rome LLP

  2. Dave -

    Thank you for your comments.

    One issue that comes up with posting announcements on the intranet is trying to distinguish between "formal" announcements and mere notices. Also, the question arose of targeting announcements at different groups of people inside the firm.

    I like your method of putting it all on the intranet and them mashing them all together into a single email.


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