The Upside of the Downturn – Time to Work on Your Know How

Smart law firms are focusing on the opportunities that the downturn presents for longer term growth, particularly those that require little hard dollar investment. For the knowledge-based law firm industry, with an underutilized resource – their lawyers – this is the time to develop your knowhow collection.

How good is your collection of best practice documents? Could your transaction-centric practices benefit from forms developed by your lawyers? Have you captured the key learnings of your most experienced practitioners in knowledge maps and training materials?

In short, what content should you develop and capture that would enable a younger associate to practice more like an experienced partner? That would enable lawyers in different offices and practices to provide a consistent, high quality standard of work, distinguishing your firm from its competitors?

So far, US law firm knowledge management initiatives have focused on finding the killer app to store and retrieve content – without adequately focusing on the quality of that content. If you have a state-of-the-art search engine, you can find all that great knowhow that distinguishes your firm from its competitors, right? But if there has been no strategic effort to develop a quality collection of the firm’s knowhow, what is your search engine retrieving?

A good collection of your firm’s knowhow should be a given in any law firm. Yet too often firms complain about the lack of good content that is easily accessible.

Content is what knowledge management is all about – and it’s your lawyers who need to develop that content. Those are the same lawyers who currently don’t have enough client work to fill their timesheets or to keep them feeling productive and challenged.

While you have your industry-leading lawyers with their collective years of experience captured in their individual heads, wanting to be productive, why not focus on an initiative that will deliver long term growth for your business? Why not have your lawyers work on building your firm’s collective knowhow?

The leading law firms in the new economy will be those which can provide clients with high quality advice that is delivered quickly and cost effectively. That means being able to access the firm’s collective knowhow quickly and effectively, regardless of the size or geographic spread of the firm. That’s what clients will pay for in the future.

The only way to be one of those leading firms is to have a knowhow collection that is developed by your lawyers. Smart law firms will recognize the opportunity this downturn presents and invest wisely for their longer term growth.

© Curve Consulting 2008

Related KM articles published on LLRX and postings on beSpacific.

cover of Knowledge Management and the Smarter LawyerKnowledge Management and the Smarter Lawyer
Author: Gretta Rusanow Esq.
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