Why do some lawyers share knowledge (and others don’t)?


Articles on my research can now be found in Managing Partner Magazine and you can now discover the knowledge-sharing motivations of your own fee earners, to maximise knowledge sharing to improve competitive edge.


This question has vexed me for years.

There are a number of theories I’ve come across in the academic literature, which seem to fall broadly into these categories:

  • the economic transactions – anticipated rewards and costs; people only share if they think they’ll get something back; perceived cost of sharing;
  • organisational culture – “it’s just how we do it here”; proud sense of purpose; affective trust in colleagues;
  • personal knowledge-sharer attitudes and personality – natural knowledge-sharers; includes effects of national culture;

There has very recently been an interesting US paper looking at 46 previous studies, which is worth a read (if you can wade through the academic language).  “Antecedents of organisational knowledge sharing: a meta-analysis and critique” by Witherspoon, Bergner, Cockrell and Stone Journal of Knowledge Management Vol 17 No 2 2013 pp250-277.

But none of the papers I’ve read so far quite seems to get to the reasons why the lawyers I meet in practice share their knowledge (or don’t share). Perhaps because lawyers tend to work in a very specific way and tend to have a specific personality type and are different to other knowledge-intensive organisations?

So, I’m studying this topic for my MBA research dissertation.

To get more evidence relevant to UK fee earners I’ve devised a short (10 min) anonymous, online questionnaire, which you can access here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LVMP8PB

I’m happy to share the results of my anonymised data with any law firm which contributes and I’m also offering 10% off business services as a thank you. You can access my business website here (where there is also another link to the survey).

If you are a UK lawyers or know any, would you kindly share my survey link? The more responses I can get, the more robust my evidence will be and the closer we’ll all get to that elusive question “Why do some lawyers share their knowledge and others don’t?”.

What are your ideas and experiences in your law firm? I’d love to have your thoughts and comments (as well as your anonymous responses on my survey!)


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 collaboration, KM, Strategy, Training and learning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why do some lawyers share knowledge (and others don’t)?

  1. Pingback: Knowledge for Lawyers | Travisthetrout's Blog

  2. Pingback: Recent blog posts | Knowledge Management for lawyers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s