I was glad to see the title of the Tech Support article in the September issue of Canadian Lawyer Magazine: Managing the knowledge flow. It is an interesting overview of Joshua Fireman and Eugene Cipparone experiences with "knowledge management" written by Gerry Blackwell. I quote the expression because, as it is often the case, KM is reduced to document management which is only a part, albeit an important one, of knowledge management.
It is true that most law firms' knowledge is found in documents. However, it cuts short from discussing the broader benefits of a full-scale knowledge management process. That being said, in implementing a knowledge management system, as Fireman says:
Doing the first thing right may be the single most important determinant of ongoing success.
And the first thing often is the deployment of a document management system.
However, as defined by Wikipedia, knowledge management "refers to a range of practices used by organizations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse and learning across the organization." It goes over and beyond documents.
In fact, it deals with an organisation intellectual capital. It aims at "objectivizing" subjective knowledge, be it tacit or explicit. Therefore, within a law firm or a corporate legal department, the following systems should be part of a KMS (knowledge management system):
1) Document management system (DMS)
2) Records/Case management system (CMS)
3) Human Capital Management (HCM): contacts, curriculum vitae, etc.
By the way, for those of you who are interested to learn more about the different parts of knowledge management and the impacts of electronic documents on litigation, I invite you to attend Marcus Evans' Document retention and E-discovery conference in Toronto on October 19th and 20th, where I will be speaking about Understanding and Managing Electronic Documents: practical lessons from Bell Canada. The following excellent speakers and specialists will be present to quench your thirst for making the right choices for E-Discovery, Document Management and Computer Forensics:
Honourable Mr. Justice Colin L. Campbell, Justice, ONTARIO SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE.
Honourable Mr. Justice S. J. LoVecchio, Justice, COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH.
Master U.C. Macleod, Administrative Master, SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE.
Honourable Mr. Justice J. Edward Scanlan, Justice, TRURO JUSTICE CENTRE, NOVA SCOTIA.
Peg Duncan, Director, Business Opportunities and Emerging Technologies Information Management Branch, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CANADA.
Kelly Friedman, Partner, OGILVY RENAULT LLP.
If you cannot attend, remember that, in two words, the goal of a KMS is to get the right information to the right people at the right time.