Matter Profiling: What’s in it for Me? #ArkKM

Session Title and Description: Matter Profiling: What’s In It For Me?
Law firms are increasingly invested in matter profiling to help support the collection of knowledge and data that can be mined for more effective search and analytics. Experience capture, financial data and other knowledge artifacts are critical to the success of any LPM, process or pricing initiatives, and can involve disparate teams throughout the matter lifecycle. This panel discussion will tap various firm functions for their unique perspectives concerning both how and why client and matter profiling is critical and how each function benefits from a “matter lifecycle” focus.


Peter Kaomea, Chief Information Officer, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Vic Peterson, Chief Information Officer, Stinson Leonard Street LLP,
Brent Miller, former Global Director of Knowledge Management, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

[These are my notes from the 2015 Ark Group Conference: Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]


  • The data is the knowledge. Stinson has created a Unified data platform that shows the tools they own and how the data in each of those tools flows across tools/platform. They have moved beyond an old-fashioned data warehouse to database field relationships. The trigger for this effort was the move to Thomson Reuters 3E.
  • Throw away the word “profiling.”  What we are really doing is attaching useful metadata to specific records and then linking that metadata in meaningful and useful ways to enable better knowledge transparency and flow within the firm. Creating and applying the right metadata requires real expertise and skill. This is an area in which KM professionals could shine.
  • What does good metadata enable? Here are a handful of examples:
    • legal project management
    • alternative pricing arrangements
    • representative experience
    • business development
    • precedent retrieval
    • cyber security that provides security without crippling the practice of law
  • What are the big “waves” or challenges KM must confront?  You need both the content AND the metadata in order to respond effectively to:
    • Resilience: law firms downtown have learned that digitizing their records, coupled with a strong network, allows them to be up and running despite disasters and disruptions such as 9/11, the northeast power outage of 2003, the Japanese Tsunami and Superstorm Sandy.
    • Cyber Security: the challenge is to provide extreme security (e.g., completely locking down the entire DMS and email archives) while enabling massive sharing. If you do things incorrectly, people are working blind.  If you do it well, the relevance (i.e., signal) goes up and the distractions go down (i.e., noise). A lockdown of the DMS and email archives at Sullivan & Cromwell triggered renewed interest in KM. Suddenly practice groups started mining their documents and data, and then providing it to colleagues. (S&C does allow lawyers to see some metadata on locked down matters. If lawyers find a possible match in matters, they can request that KM review the matter to see if there are documents that would in fact be useful to the lawyer making the enquiry.)
    • Cognitive Computing: Cognitive computing is an example of technology enabling enormous new heights of productivity. As computer power grows, we facing an opportunity and a threat. We should plan for it.
  • Ask the right questions and then study the facts. At Stinson, they did a study of their DMS use and found that most lawyers used only 3% of the DMS, and these were largely recent documents. Therefore, they felt comfortable with their limited hybrid approach to locking down parts of the DMS.  Because they did the study, they were able to make the case for overriding a lawyer’s “hunch” that they need unrestricted access to the entire DMS at all times.
  • “A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste!”