providing guidelines on how to use this information for various purposes. The knowledge inventory
is one tool used to identify where information is housed. A potential tool to document the use and
sharing of information is a knowledge-sharing plan—a communication plan that specifically addresses
how information is to be shared. It can set forth the specific types of information, identify the author
and who should have access, determine whether the information is to be “pushed” (disseminated)
or “pulled” (collected), and indicate the purpose, frequency and method of dissemination. A sample
“knowledge sharing plan” is included in the Appendix.
For smaller law departments, the information available from strategy best practices and policies may
be sufficient basis for the knowledge management program. The knowledge inventory (again, a living
document) provides an understanding of what information is available where, and the knowledge-sharing plan provides a process for routinely sharing certain categories of information.
Because an important aspect of knowledge management is the ability to aggregate information
from a variety of sources, when investing in new technology or upgrading existing technology
systems, especially for core systems such as matter management/ebilling or document
management, it is a best practice for the law department to carefully think through at the front
end how the department will want that technology to relate to other systems. Considerations
include whether and how to integrate the new system with other existing or future systems,
how data will be migrated from other sources, and how information from the new system will be
reported. Because of the complex technical considerations involved, the law department should
work closely with the IT department or other experts to make clear its ultimate goals, and to
understand the capabilities or limitations of any systems under consideration, as these capabilities
or limitations may affect the choice of system(s) and the order/method by which the system(s) is/
Larger or more sophisticated law departments may want to consider additional technology solutions.
A 2010 survey by the International Legal Technology Association regarding knowledge management
at law firms and law departments indicated that portal implementations and enterprise search topped
the list of new knowledge management projects, both of which are designed to organize the variety
of existing information repositories.1 Web portals are single points of access for information from
various sources. They are central points from which users can contribute to, find and share a range
of information, from work product to specific activities or matters to news and more. Web portals
aggregate data from a variety of systems to provide information in the appropriate, usable form.
A current trend is to evolve portals from simply information access areas to “self-service” areas for the
law department’s clients (e.g., using portals for lawyer expertise directories, templates, etc.). Federated
search systems go beyond the organization’s legal systems to find results not only from internal systems
but also external sources, such as LexisNexis, acc.com or other services. There are various search tools
available that use intuitive search logic or data mining to find information from a number of sources.
1 Catherine Monte, “Top Ten KM Projects,” Knowledge Management: Bridging People, Information and Processes
at 18 (ILTA, June 2010).