Welcome to the sixth installment in our blog series on firmwide analytics. Ask anyone who has attended a legal conference recently, and they will tell you that data is everything. From AI applications to machine learning, it all hinges on information. However, there seems to be less certainty about exactly what data everyone should be collecting. Or why for that matter… For this very reason, we at Clocktimizer will be looking at the full range of data analysis available to firms. We will be breaking down firmwide analytics by department and exploring the data to collect, the insights you can hope to gain from it, and how you can apply these learnings in your firm.

In the final part of our firmwide analytics series, we will be looking at the analytics lynchpin in any firm. The Knowledge Manager. Knowledge management is increasingly important for firms. After all, as Lew Platt pointed out “if only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive”. Because law firms can produce so much data, one of the most essential tasks is in ensuring that this information doesn’t go to waste. That the right people know what they need to know, and that repetitive work is avoided. Accordingly, this week we look at the final piece in the firmwide analytics puzzle. The people whose job it is to solve this problem.

So what is Knowledge Management?

It is important to note that each firm’s definition of knowledge management will be different. It will depend on how your firm manages information, and your strategy for sharing that information internally and externally. However, at its core all knowledge management has a set of overlapping aims. This is to ensure that information, once generated, is captured, organised, stored and shared in a timely fashion. 

The role itself has such importance because of the way law firms fundamentally function. The practice of law itself is ever evolving, requiring the creation of new precedents, the introduction of new technology and the push towards increasing transparency. All of this in turn creates a valuable and hard won bank of knowledge. Left unused, this is a waste of resources. Partly, because a firm must continually pay lawyers to “re-learn” information someone else has already discovered. Partly, because the information itself can be used as a sales tool to bring new clients on board, or even to identify efficiencies internally. Knowledge managers act as curators and gatekeepers of the information, so that valuable data doesn’t fall through the cracks. Their influence can be felt in any facet of law firm practice.

Where does knowledge management add value to a firm?

According to Lexology, knowledge management adds value in five key ways: 

  • Efficiency. By using existing knowledge rather than starting research from scratch, firms can reduce the amount of time (and cost) spent on these essential activities
  • Delegation. By reducing repetitive work to easy to understand checklists and established documentation, delegated to junior employees, it is possible to free up partners to focus on higher-value work
  • Quality and consistency of work. When knowledge is equally shared, work is of a consistently high standard which is delivered to clients in a transparent way, developing client loyalty
  • Lawyer knowledge as KM. By capturing the knowledge of your lawyers into a KM programme you can keep the firm up to date with the most current information. Don’t forget that the average law firm experiences a 30% lawyer turnover every five years. Retaining these lawyers expertise, vests value in the firm.
  • Risk management. By allowing lawyers to refer to previous matters quickly and efficiently, firms are able to identify potential risk for clients

Some tips for good knowledge management

Firmwide analytics is only as good as its implementation. As we have explored, implementation has many facets. It is about broad data collection, about a well thought out strategy and a change in ethos to embrace the analytics process. Equally, it is about how you collect and share those learnings. As such, we have put together some of the tips and tricks from the world’s best knowledge managers, to provide practical steps to improving knowledge management at your firm.

  1. Let technology reduce repetition
    Technology isn’t going to replace anyone any time soon. However, it is good at identifying and reducing repetitive work. As Rich McClain, Chief Information Officer of Hunton & Williams noted ‘The explosion of information exceeds a ‘human-centric’ way of managing.’ Tools like Clocktimizer can capture and share vital information on matter management to streamline processes and increase efficiency. Because the data collection and analysis is automated it makes the classification and sharing of information much easier.
  2. Increase interdepartmental collaboration
    As Joana Goodman of Thomson Reuters notes, good KM relies on the sharing of knowledge. Few departments work together closely with each other. As such information learned by one practice group is unlikely to spread throughout the firm. By promoting interdepartmental knowledge sharing sessions you can break down information silos in your firm.
  3. Set some KPIs
    Management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” The same is true for knowledge management in a firm. Establishing performance indicators can focus KM efforts and ensure they have a positive impact. Importantly, KPIs can also inform where you focus your KM efforts. If you notices low performance or gaps in training, KM can be used to fill this void and increase firmwide efficiency.

Firmwide analytics, in totality

So after many weeks, we come to the end of our firmwide analytics series. It is by no means exhaustive, but covers many of the areas essential to the successful launch of your analytics strategy. From the collection of data, to the ways your firm can leverage it. The changes undergoing the amount of data produced, and the way it is analysed, have already changed the face of day-to-day legal practice. We believe this is only likely to increase in the coming years. Accordingly, we will be releasing this information as an e-book in the coming weeks, so don’t forget to get in touch to request your free copy in advance. We hope it provides your firm with the inspiration needed to get the most out of the data your firm produces.