The Role of KM in Legal Project Management

Andrew Terrett (Director of Knowledge Management, BLG) and Joshua Fireman (VP and General Counsel, ii3) presented a full-day workshop on legal project management (LPM) at the Ark Group Legal Knowledge Management Conference (October 26, 2010). Here are my notes.

Your Knowledge Management Department and Legal Project Management

It is not a given that legal project management (LPM) should automatically be handled by a law firm’s knowledge management department. In fact, there may be other departments in the firm that have an equal claim. Much depends on the kind of KM team you have — do they have the skill sets necessary to manage legal projects?

Issues to consider:
– Where is your KM team located?
— are you part of IT? Part of professional development?
– Who is on your team?
— legal drafters?
— legal researchers? librarians?
— professional support lawyers?
— content managers?
— internal consultants?
— change management experts?
– Does KM have a good reputation within the firm?

What are the economic drivers?
– To save money for our clients
– To improve law firm profitability
– To use law firm resources more efficiently

What does the future look like?
– Is there (or should there be) a “unified theory” of LPM, Lean Six Sigma, KM and Professional Development?

In the discussion that followed the presentation, it became clear that while KM can be useful in LPM, it’s not clear that KM would by right lead a firm’s LPM effort. At the end of the day, much depends on your firm’s structure and the KM personalities and skill sets involved. In most firms, KM can be very helpful to provide the materials and resources that help the lawyers meet a project plan more efficiently. However, unless your KM team includes the right legal matter expertise and the right personalities, you won’t be able to actually provide LPM services.

One practising lawyer in the room asked why were having a “philosophical, rather abstract” discussion about KM and LPM. My response? That desperate knowledge managers are searching for
a raison d’etre and hope that Legal Project Management will provide that.

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