As outlined in the first article in this series, knowledge management refers to the strategic capture and transfer of knowledge within an organisation. So, should you invest in knowledge management?

Some in-house teams are investing heavily in new tools that focus on efficient knowledge management. Software company Atlassian, for example, has developed Confluence, a shared workspace that enables their lawyers to:

  • centralise information;
  • easily access frequently used documents; and
  • collaborate and manage permissions.

In part two of this series, we will explore four key reasons why your in-house team should invest in knowledge management.

1. Avoid Duplication of Work

One of the most important reasons to invest in knowledge management is that it avoids duplication of work. Inevitably, tasks that your in-house department has handled previously will come up again at some point. If a different individual or group of people has to deal with the task, they may waste time repeating work that has previously been completed.

Knowledge management can help to leverage the experience of one individual performing a task and share it with the rest of the organisation.

This is particularly relevant for lawyers, who often have to do legal research. Lawyers can easily spend hours looking for a specific advice, agreement or memoranda that they once prepared or saw. This means that knowledge can easily get lost if not properly captured.

This results in wasted time for lawyers, which comes at a cost for the organisation. If your in-house team is not using the appropriate resources or continually ‘reinventing the wheel’, they are ultimately being paid to do a job that someone else has already done.

2. Attract New Talent

Organisations need to attract new generation lawyers, many of whom expect a workplace that remains on top of the latest information technologies.

However, it can be difficult to overcome competition and hire strong candidates. In-house departments must now differentiate themselves based on their knowledge capabilities to attract lawyers who prioritise more tech-driven workflows. 

A reliable and effective knowledge management system is not only required to attract new talent but also to retain lawyers. Lawyers are more likely to stay with an organisation that invests in a system that:

Knowledge management reduces stress and increases job satisfaction. 

3. Avoid Losing Knowledge 

On the one hand, an increasing number of lawyers are approaching retirement age. This poses the risk of valuable information being lost if their professional knowledge is not properly documented before they leave. 

On the other hand, in-house departments are facing a new generation of lawyers who have been encouraged to be more self-seeking in their career objectives. These lawyers tend to move on to other, more attractive, opportunities quickly. Modern employees expect work for multiple companies and have multiple careers over their lifetime. There is a more egocentric view of knowledge, with individuals retaining their knowledge because it is what they bring to their next opportunity.

As a result of these two trends, the need for in-house departments to invest in knowledge management has grown.

4. Provide a Higher Level of Service

Legal departments are always under pressure to deliver a high quality of work. This is because the work they produce can end up in front of top management, the organisation’s clients or another organisation for negotiation.

This means that there are certain expectations of the quality of their output. It is therefore critical that in-house lawyers capture efficiencies in order to meet those expectations. Without knowledge management, your in-house team cannot take advantage of the best practices and current information. This creates a risk of poor quality work or work that is not reflective of the previous standard of work. 

Knowledge management can allow lawyers to become more efficient at delivering legal services and reviewing documents. This means that they have more time to focus on high impact legal tasks and deliver more value to the business.

Businesses are demanding legal departments to be more efficient and use more technology. Knowledge management can drive efficiency, and deliver direct value to the business.

Key Takeaways

Knowledge management can help your in-house legal department to:

  • prevent lawyers from wasting time duplicating work that has already been done and allow them to leverage existing knowledge;
  • attract and retain employees that expect to work in an environment with knowledge management tools in place;
  • avoid losing knowledge when lawyers leave an organisation, either to retire or change jobs; and
  • provide a consistently high level of service.

Knowledge management is becoming a requirement for effective and efficient in-house departments. But, how to implement it in your team? In the next article of our series, we focus on developing a knowledge-sharing culture in order to set yourself up for success with knowledge management.

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Melanie Gilbert
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