Law firms have the unique ability to build a wealth of institutional knowledge about their clients, processes, and best practices. While it is natural for lawyers to accumulate knowledge about the firm’s processes, this knowledge can become a liability as the number of employees changes. Preservation of institutional knowledge can help fill in these gaps and ensure that employees have the tools they need to perform their job successfully. But how do you preserve institutional knowledge? Listed below are some strategies to help law firms preserve their institutional knowledge.
Leveraging your knowledge assets and managing your emails and documents in a secure repository are two key strategies that firms can implement today. By making it easier to find information and use precedent, firms can empower their lawyers to make quicker decisions. This is a fundamental principle of preserving knowledge in organizations. Law firms can take this principle a step further by integrating legal technology into their workflows. One example of this is the dynamic question-and-answer feature of Practical Law. This innovative tool uses the editorial and technology expertise of over 600 drafters to answer questions.
By fostering a culture of mentoring, firms can translate individual knowledge into shared knowledge. To facilitate this process, firms should give attorneys the flexibility to meet with their mentors. This way, one-on-one meetings can provide a wealth of information about the firm and strengthen bonds within the firm. For lawyers, this is particularly valuable as it allows them to get feedback on their performance and provide unique information about the firm. The benefits of this strategy are numerous.
One of the most important strategies for preserving institutional knowledge is leveraging the expertise of trusted on-demand lawyers. The flexibility of this approach allows law firms to align with emerging risks, workload surges, and law firm management. By creating a bench of trusted on-demand attorneys, the legal team can be built and supplemented as needed. Having an agile layer that can deal with challenges that transcend the virtual bench will enable firms to maintain a valuable source of institutional knowledge.
Creating a culture of knowledge-sharing helps law firms stand out from their competition. By creating a culture of knowledge-sharing, team members will naturally gather knowledge for the firm’s benefit. Without the leadership of senior management modeling this behavior, KM initiatives will fail to achieve their goals. They should also set the tone for the culture of the firm. If senior management is not modeling the behavior of knowledge-sharing, they will fail.
Implementing an enterprise search and KM strategy can help firms make better use of the information they gather. Incorporating an IT strategy and KM will help law firms increase their ability to create a culture that recognizes the value of institutional knowledge. If your firm does not have a knowledge management program in place, this might be the way to go. This will ensure that the firm is able to continue to serve its clients and remain competitive.