How to create an in-house legal knowledge management system

Jan 21, 2023

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Do you have steps in place to capture the legal knowledge — aka legal capital — that exists in your legal department?

Building your legal capital is a key component to optimizing productivity. The most effective way to do this is to create a legal knowledge management system as part of your legal operations.

Legal capital includes:

  • past external advice;
  • opinions on new legislative changes;
  • prior matters and best practice; and
  • audit trails of internal and outsourced matters.

By collating this legal IP in a knowledge management system, it’s freely available across the legal team, and everyone has access to the knowledge they need to tackle any legal issue.

Therefore, handovers are easier when a team member is unavailable, there’s no more sifting through someone else’s email to find what they were working on, and no more paying for the same advice twice!

In this article, you’ll learn about what legal knowledge is, the benefits of knowledge management, and how to design your own knowledge management strategy.

Curious to learn how to design your own knowledge management system? Sign up for the Connected Legal Certification — it’s free for all in-house legal professionals.
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What is knowledge management?

While many legal teams understand that effective document management is a key tool or process to enable them to deliver their work more effectively, knowledge management is really at the heart of building your team’s legal capital.

Gartner defines knowledge management as a process that formalizes the management and use of a business’s intellectual assets. It promotes a collaborative and integrative approach to creating, capturing, organizing, accessing, and using information assets.

More importantly, it facilitates the proactive sharing of knowledge to enable the legal team and the business to perform and deliver success.

Why is knowledge management important?

According to Deloitte’s 2021 State of the Legal Operations Survey, most corporate legal departments rely on unstructured, undocumented knowledge that neglects to scale as teams grow, leading to costly re-work.

Just 15 percent of respondents conceded their company has an established and consistently managed knowledge architecture to connect all areas of the organization with taxonomies and metadata. Only 18 percent agreed that knowledge management ensured it was suitable for reuse with minimal duplication and redundancy of content.

And while technology is one way to support knowledge management, 63 percent of respondents did not consider their organization to have an integrated platform with core knowledge in a defined structure.

“Building a culture of knowledge sharing requires the support of a sturdy system to identify, collate, and curate legal assets. The whole business is set up for success when this system is in place.”

Shaun Plant — Chief Legal Evangelist, LawVu

Using knowledge management to become more connected

Legal knowledge management is an essential part of being connected to your work, team, and the business, as it:

  • increases the team’s capability, efficiency, and effectiveness;
  • retains business-critical legal knowledge in-house; and
  • ensures team members can find legal assets.

Operating as a Connected Legal Function also helps deliver the desired state of knowledge management. This is a system and strategy that saves time, improves outcomes with the ability to find answers and best practices easily, and creates an enterprise-wide culture of sharing, mutual support, and documentation.

Using knowledge management to save time

A knowledge management system also saves time. The 2022 In-house Legal Technology Report found that 40 percent of respondents spent three or more hours a day searching through emails or other systems to determine matter history or advice from outside counsel. Of the legal professionals surveyed, 92 percent believed that spending time on manual daily activities took time and effort away from working on larger business goals and affected the ability to deliver legal services on time.

Ultimately, legal knowledge management becomes the collective intellect of the legal team — a powerful tool for a high-performing legal function.

How to create a knowledge management strategy

Designing a sound strategy is the key to successful knowledge management, so ensure your discussion and planning cover the following points:

  1. why it’s important to invest time in developing a knowledge management capability;
  2. what legal assets to include in your knowledge management system;
  3. the process for capturing and storing assets;
  4. how assets will be available to the legal team and the wider business;
  5. roles and responsibilities, and how they will be assigned; and
  6. how you will track asset use.

Head over to the Connected Legal Certification to develop your own knowledge management strategy and download a template to get you started!

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