When should KM become a priority?

Those managing small to medium-sized law firms often struggle to balance competing practice management costs and decide how to prioritise their spending. This post looks at practical situations which suggest that your law firm ought to be prioritising knowledge management more highly.

  1. Are your clients are becoming more demanding of your firm: increasingly price-sensitive; demanding certainty on fees; and demanding services beyond conventional fee earning?
  2. Does your precedent database (whether on paper or online) appear to be expensive to maintain?  Do you worry that you are paying to duplicate content which you suspect may be available more cheaply online?
  3. Have any of your firm’s Partners come back from a meeting with an existing or potential client and found that a different lawyer from the firm has already met with them recently, but they knew nothing about that meeting beforehand?
  4. Do you or other lawyers find that, when they have serious problems with files, they’re confident someone somewhere in the firm knows the answer, but they don’t know who?  Or after grappling with problems, do they later bump into a fee earner who has already solved that tricky issue, and so fear they can no longer bill their full time?
  5. Has your firm has lost, whether through redundancy, resignation or retirement, key people and those who remain are feeling that loss?
  6. Does your firm want to offer fixed fees to its clients, but is struggling to both compete with other firms and still make a profit?
  7. Do  your fee earners struggle to keep their legal knowledge up to date?
  8. Are your senior lawyers reluctant to delegate work to junior staff members, not because there isn’t enough work to share, but because they worry about the skills of the juniors?  Or can you not start to think about employing paralegals to bring costs down, because your in-house knowledge bases, systems and precedents are no longer fit for purpose?
  9. Is your firm happy with the level of write-offs, realisation rates, bill deductions?
  10. Does your knowledge-based marketing (newsletters, seminars, blogs etc) take up too much of your senior lawyers’ time?
  11. Do your lawyers prefer to work in silos, keeping work, clients and ideas to themselves, because that is how it has always been done?
  12. Do you have more than 30 fee earners and are you now thinking about employing know-how lawyers?
  13. Do your clients report that too much time has been spent on matters that they saw little value in, and too little time has been spent on those matters that they truly valued?
  14. Does your knowledge-based marketing fail to impress your existing clients or reach new clients?

If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, your firm needs to look at its knowledge management strategy (if it has one) and prioritise spending on this area more highly.  If your firm doesn’t have a knowledge management strategy yet, it is now time to start one.

If you want to begin or improve your knowledge management strategy or knowledge activities, where do you go from here?

I hope that reading the following should help, but also look at the other blogs, textbooks and tweeters I have recommended.

But if you are still struggling, consider getting some professional help.

Call (07976 360 348) or email me (helenerussell@theknowledgebusiness.co.uk) for a free chat about your KM challenges.

I offer open training courses in KM fundamentals, KM Strategies and KM measurement, or a wide variety of in-house training courses. I also offer coaching, to ensure that you actually finish that first KM Strategy! Latest on Eventbrite here.

Do you want an occasional (approx monthly) email with updates about my latest blog post and open training events? Sign up here.

About knowledge4lawyers

I am a lawyer and a Knowledge Management expert. Through The Knowledge Business I help law firms improve their efficiency and profitability through knowledge services - consultancy, training and implementation help.
This entry was posted in KM, Professional Support Lawyers, SMFs, Strategy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When should KM become a priority?

  1. Pingback: KM Fundamentals | Knowledge for Lawyers

  2. I’m starting a new job as a knowledge analyst and the sudden change of title has really got me thinking about how you can explain to people outside of the business what working with law firm knowledge is all about. This post is really useful in helping to put into business terms rather than information professional terms, the benefits of good KM! I’d like to know more about how good KM can directly affect a firm’s ability to satiate clients’ cost demands…

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