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At Johnson & Johnson, Philip Crowley is the legal department’s efficiency guru. With the less-than-efficient title of assistant general counsel for knowledge sharing systems, he’s starting down what could be a long road aimed at getting employees to use basic Internet technology to pare costs and spread knowledge. Crowley works out of Johnson & Johnson’s headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J., a tall white tower that bears a slight resemblance to a Johnson & Johnson Q-tip. On his looming 19-inch computer screen, Crowley has developed two Web sites for the company: One provides legal information and training for the 100,000-plus Johnson & Johnson employees worldwide; the other offers legal research memos, forms, and sample documents to J&J’s in-house legal staff. The companywide site answers common legal questions — about the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, for instance — and offers training sessions on compliance with, say, sexual harassment laws. This is all designed to replace some of the more mundane tasks performed by J&J’s approximately 100 in-house lawyers. The Web site for these lawyers, meanwhile, saves on outside legal costs. Instead of paying a law firm to start from scratch doing basic research, responding to interrogatories, or drafting legal briefs, in-house counsel can download the material from the site, which has been up since April 2000. “You get into a lot of repetitive activity as a lawyer,” says Crowley, a former transactional attorney who practiced at New York’s White & Case and Cravath, Swaine & Moore before joining Johnson & Johnson’s in-house legal team in 1982. “This lets lawyers get rid of lower priorities.” Crowley tracks the Web site’s use with a system that records when people enter the site, the time they spend there, and when they leave. Although he won’t reveal the average weekly use — what he calls “service hours” — the most recent week on the legal department’s site reported 550 user sessions, for an average of a little more than six minutes each. Not exactly an overwhelming response, but it’s a start. “I’m not satisfied with the amount of use it’s getting,” says Crowley. “Until we get up to thousands — or hundreds of thousands — of user sessions a week, I won’t be satisfied. We’re not there yet.” How does he plan to get there? “The four R’s,” he says with a straight face. “Roles, responsibility, recognition, and rewards.” Which means? “It’s made clear to lawyers that it’s part of their role to participate in this project.” Crowley says there are no monetary or other specific rewards involved — just a general sense that it’s part of their responsibilities. Crowley is serious about playing his part, which he describes as “20 percent technology, 80 percent sociology.” An intense man, his big blue eyes grow wider when he talks about the intersection of technology and law, his focus at the company for the past year. He’s convinced that knowledge management is the wave of the future. To Crowley, who has a master’s degree in physics, breaking down the legal work process into a series of orderly steps just seemed logical. And it convinced him that much of the lawyers’ more tedious tasks — pleadings and legal memos — could be eliminated if their work product were categorized and made available to other company attorneys via the Web site. So Crowley, the company cheerleader on this effort, is both creating the database and driving the lawyers in each legal practice group to contribute. Critical to the streamlining process, he says, has been Los Angeles-based LRN, a legal research outfit that provides online, made-to-order research memos on any legal issue — and a way to avoid having to pay a law firm to do the job. To test it out, J&J’s litigation team challenged an outside law firm and LRN with the same research project. “We found we saved 25-40 percent in costs” by using LRN, says Crowley, who declines to be more specific. Johnson & Johnson has also contracted with LRN to have all legal training for employees — including courses about compliance with sexual harassment law, patent protection, and the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act — available through the company’s Web site. Employees will be able to take the approximately 45-minute classes at their convenience, seated at their own computers. Courses were first available online last April; since November, the company has had a tracking mechanism to determine how many employees are using them. But until the courses become mandatory — which he’s working on with the human resources departments of J&J’s various subsidiaries — Crowley expects that number will be low. Crowley’s newest project is to create a third Web site that will make the legal research materials now available to J&J lawyers also available to the company’s outside counsel. Which is where law firm efficiency comes in. For instance, if New York’s Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler (which does a good deal of work for J&J) is working on a legal research project for the company that it expects will cost more than a certain as-yet-undetermined sum, Crowley hopes to create an arrangement whereby they’ll agree to first see if a relevant research memo is available on the company Web site, either done by a J&J lawyer or by LRN. The firm’s lawyers would then rely on that work, instead of sending an associate to the library to spend (and bill) however many hours it would take to come up with the same answer. Johnson & Johnson lawyers would be able to track whether outside counsel had visited the Web site and thus “played by the rules of the game,” says Crowley. But if companies can get law firms to eliminate large chunks of their research work this way, what happens to the training of young associates? “Not my issue,” says Crowley, who quickly adds that accommodations to train young lawyers could be reached, if the associate is expected to become part of the J&J legal team. Of course, some law firms may resist these kinds of efficiencies, which at first blush don’t seem to work to their benefit. “But this is the way to practice law in the 2000s and beyond,” insists Crowley. “The firms that learn to incorporate this into their practices will be powerhouses. Those that don’t will pass away.” Back to “The Power of Knowledge Management.”

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