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american lawyer media news service Andrew Adkins III is the director of the Legal Technology Institute at the University of Florida. He can be reached at [email protected]. In january 2003, the Legal Technology Institute at the University of Florida Levin College of Law launched the PricewaterhouseCoopers-Legal Research Center Knowledge Management Study to gauge the use of “knowledge management” (KM)-the collection of processes that govern the creation, dissemination and utilization of knowledge-in the legal profession. In cooperation with the sponsors-the Association of Legal Administrators, DecisionQuest/Bowne (CaseSoft), iManage Inc., Inmagic Inc., Merrill Corp., Tikit Group and West-the Legal Technology Institute developed a 104-question, 12-page questionnaire. About 34,000 survey questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of potential KM users in mid-sized and large firms, including attorneys and barristers, legal administrators, law librarians and information technology (IT) personnel. Most responses were returned from the United States, even though surveys were also mailed to recipients in the United Kingdom. A total of 348 completed and qualified survey questionnaires were received and processed. About 60% of the responses were completed by lawyers, 10% by legal administrators and executive directors, 10% by law librarians and 4% by IT staff. Of those, 193 were returned from private law firms and 130 from corporate and government law departments. The average number of years in practice reported by total respondents was 13.6 years; the median was 12. Law firm respondents reported an average of 14.6 years in practice; the median was 14. Sixty-one percent of the law firm respondents were from small firms (40 attorneys or smaller); 11.5% were from medium firms (41-100 lawyers); and 27.2% were from large law firms (100+). The average small firm was 9.7 attorneys; medium was 67 attorneys; large was 432.7 attorneys. Management structure Historically, KM programs have required evaluation of management structure, which often leads to culture change within the firm or department. About 60% of respondents indicated that they had a “centralized office management,” and about half reported a “practice group” management structure. The big question on the survey was, “Has your firm/department initiated a KM program?” Almost half report some type of KM program at their firms, and only 6% said they didn’t know-which leads one to believe that the legal profession has a good understanding of its involvement in KM. Another interesting note is that 60% of firms/departments that use a practice group management structure say they have started a KM program-so management structure may indeed be relevant. More than 19% report a positive return on investment on KM programs. Of respondents that have established a positive return on investment, more than 85% said they either met or exceeded their target return on investment. Of firms that indicated they had not initiated a KM program, about one-third believe a KM program is inherently difficult to manage. Interestingly, only 15% of respondents believe KM is not affordable. For those respondents that have developed a KM strategy, or that will soon develop one, the KM program is viewed as an independent project and will be internally developed (as opposed to requiring the hiring of consultants) by “interviewing management/users” and “researching literature and the Web.” Research redundancy Several questions targeted research and work product redundancy. Successful KM strategies help reduce the amount of redundant work, so it’s important to understand cultural issues as well as technical issues. More than 60% of respondents said they believe research redundancy is caused by lack of communication inside the organization. Fewer than 18% say it’s caused by lack of communication outside the firm/department. Interestingly, only 15% of law firm respondents believe research redundancy is caused by lack of communication between outside firms. Almost 60% of respondents say research redundancy is also caused by “lack of incentives to motivate knowledge reuse and eliminate research redundancy.” The main objectives of KM programs are to improve the quality of service, improve the speed of service and reduce the cost of delivering service. So how does one measure the value of KM programs? The most common standard was by “operational efficiency and cost reduction” and “leveraging know-how and skills, increasing the value of services performed.” How does one get legal professionals to utilize KM technologies? About 38% of respondents report that the “growth of the KM repository (by document count or volume of storage)” was one method of the reward system under consideration. More than half said that contributions to the KM initiative are considered as part of the evaluation process. For respondents who provided the types of metrics factored into the reward system, the top three were: Number of content contributions per individual contributor. Growth of KM repository (by document count or volume of storage). Growth of KM repository (by practice area). Resources and staffing How are KM initiatives staffed? More than 40% of respondents with KM programs reported having at least one full-time employee exclusively dedicated to KM, and more than 45% said at least one employee spends at least 20% of his or her time on KM. The primary roles: “categorizing, identifying and compiling” precedent documents, and assuring quality. Respondents typically are using attorneys (40%), legal assistants (20%) and librarians (20%). About 28% of respondents are using KM consultants, who are providing content creation, planning and technology services. Only 27% of respondents indicated KM decisions are governed by an “independent steering committee,” as opposed to the technology committee. While technology is important, KM is more about people and processes. More than 60% of respondents report that reusable documents are identified and collected by “voluntary submission.” More than 80% say they internally reuse legal research or precedents. Of documents identified, about half of respondents report classifying documents by “subject matter,” and only 21% say they use a “taxonomy” to classify documents. The most likely candidates for knowledge repositories include standard legal forms or templates, and research memoranda, between one and five years old. Who is responsible for updating content? About one-third of respondents say attorneys, and a quarter say “everybody.” More than two-thirds of respondents expect that the ability to locate and search e-mail communications for prior research and work product will help. But they cite concerns about systematically retaining and searching e-mail communications; fewer than 40% have e-mail retention policies. More than one-third of respondents say software purchase decisions are made jointly between the IT department and the managing partner-and about one-third say the most likely trigger for software purchases is because a partner or manager demands it. Another third report that purchases are part of the firm’s planning effort. Is a return on investment required to institutionalize a KM program? About 9% say no. About one-third report a total IT operating budget of less than $500,000 this year. Only 19% of respondents say they currently have a proposed budget to support KM programs; more than one-third say it’s about 1% of the organization’s entire budget. The average budget to support KM was 4.7% of the entire budget. Other systems Knowledge-management software in legal environments usually covers the “big six” management systems: financial, document, case/matter, legal research, litigation and client relationships. In addition, e-mail and substantive databases round out the applications often found under the KM umbrella. Only one-third of respondents say KM efforts are limited to document management systems (DMS). For those who answered yes, more than 70% agreed that efforts would be more efficient if the KM system could access knowledge from multiple sources. This leads to the conclusion that legal professionals realize the benefits from a KM system that has the ability to pull information from multiple software applications. The top three types of KM systems being implemented are: Substantive knowledge, such as form files and research archives. Organizational knowledge, such as expert databases or records management. Procedural knowledge, such as checklists and practice guides. Almost half of the respondents store research material using a DMS; one-third indicated they use an in-house database. However, 55% of those with KM initiatives use a DMS to store research material. Both firms and law departments are incorporating electronic discovery into their practices. About 40% say some percentage of their litigation matters incorporate electronic discovery-but only 6.5% use an electronic data discovery services company. Not surprisingly, Microsoft Windows NT/2000 is the primary network operating system for 71% of total respondents. Only 15% use Novell as their primary network operating system. Microsoft Windows XP is gaining desktop share with almost 20% of respondents. A majority of respondents have a wide area network, and about one-third use a Citrix server. Fewer than 3% of law firm respondents indicated they use Lotus Notes for e-mail, compared to 10% of total respondents. More than 60% of respondents prefer Microsoft Outlook for e-mail; about 15% use Novell GroupWise. While two-thirds of respondents report that they have an intranet, only about a quarter of respondents are using an extranet. More information about the study can be found at the Legal Technology Institute’s Web site: www.law.ufl.edu/lti/research/KM.

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