Law firms in England were famous in earlier years for hiring armies of practice support lawyers to carry out knowledge management activities. By contrast, many North American firms have resisted doing this because of the personnel costs and management challenges involved. In lieu of armies, some North American firms have opted to throw technology at their practice problems. Even still, there are some functions that people can perform better than machines alone.
Faced with this conundrum, at least one law firm has moved to a lower cost solution in the form of offshore knowledge management lawyers. This firm has established an office in a country that has many well-trained lawyers and a cost of living that is considerably lower than that of the major financial centers. As a result, they are able to accomplish some of their standard KM activities at a fraction of the cost they incurred before.
A representative of this firm was honest about some of his early misgivings about this approach, but was pleased to report that the performance of their offshore KM lawyers has far exceeded even their most optimistic expectations.