Saturday, July 23, 2011

PLL Summit - Steven Lastres, Julie Bozzell and Toby Brown - Moving Beyond the Library Walls to Support Strategic Knowledge Management

The second half of the morning at PLL Summit allowed attendees to attend 2 out of 5 summaries from the PLL's Law Firm Management webinar program (we got to choose which two). These are notes are from a 30 minute session with Steven Lastres, Julie Bozzell and Toby Brown on law firm libraries and knowledge management.  Note: these are my notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own.

KM is about working smarter. KM strategies are a way for law firms to become more competitive. Firms need to make their young associates as smart as they can be, as fast as they can be. Teaching them the tools to get to the actionable items should be the focus. KM helps improve client/customer service - e.g. library staff share what they have done and learn with others, especially if they are in a global environment - you need to capture the links, documents and PDFs that were found during research.

KM Projects that require librarian competencies:

  • Intranet/portal content development
  • Creation of expertise databases
  • Database development & maintainance
  • Taxonomy, development of controlled vocabulary
  • Project management
  • Statistical analysis
  • Search engine optimization
If your library is not into KM, how do you get there? You will not be invited - you need to get yourself involved. Prepare your "brag bag".  Lawyers are not necessarily struggling with the research databases; they are struggling with the other tools they have access to. We have expertise and can help them; we should approach IT.  

Best bets and ideas:
  • help review what people are searching for on the intranet, work to offer up "best results" - IT does not like to do this
  • thesaurus development
  • SharePoint 2010 - metadata term scores - help building taxonomies and synonyms to help surface content
  • connect lawyers to key KM resources
  • index the lawyers' content e.g. by practice group
  • managing projects on wikis (Bozzell found calling it a "resource page" helped them adopt it faster)
  • dashboard development - pulling together content from external providers e.g. by industry or client - it is too difficult to expect lawyers to have 90 different vendors and 90 different passwords; need to pull the content all together for them.
Stop using library terms; use terms people are already use e.g. Internet-related terms.

Analysis KM 
  • draws from the ediscovery field - too much information for humans to digest
  • search becoming less effective
Kiiac - created by Kingsley Martin (who developed West KM previously) - takes a group of similar documents, breaks them down into their components and compares them; the human can then choose what is correct or not; can then compare the "standard" against the other documents to show which are standard and which are not. Important for librarians to work in this area - makes you part of the strategic part of the firm.

Steven Lastres:  Don't wait to be told what to do - go to the management partners and tell them what you want to do and why you want to do it. Learn to do a business case analysis and present it. We are the ones who work with the lawyers and the ones who know how to do this kind of work. Stop doing the work that is not lawyer-facing. No partner cares if you have a pristine catalog record.

Audience comment: Get out and talk to the lawyers in your firm, find out what they need.

Lastres: with firm cuts there are fewer people to do this kind of work; it is a great opportunity for law firm librarians to step out of our comfort zone and do this kind of work. Bring it back to the client: what's the value to the client, what's the value to the lawyer?

Audience comment: Lawyers don't want to share outside of their practice groups. A: Needs to come from management, needs to be a factor in their compensation model.

Note the PLL KM sub-group will be doing monthly chats on related topics; they are looking for members. Join them on LinkedIn - PLL/SIS Knowledge Management Group.

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