The KM Legal conferences are a great platform for knowledge management professionals to touch base and share thoughts and insights on where their profession is heading. This year, the KM Legal Europe conference in January, took place in Amsterdam at the NH Carlton and was attended by 50 attendees.
The event explored several themes, including collaboration (whether it was internal between KM and the other parts of the firm, or between law firms and their clients), the importance of strategy and training in aligning KM with the wider law firm strategy, and how Knowledge Management can be an essential source of innovation and service improvement for the law firm.
Andra Alliston, Partner and Knowledge Management professional at Stikeman Elliot in Canada, highlighted a number of these themes when she took us through the lessons she had learned from her 10 year KM journey at Stikeman Elliot. In her view, it was important that the KM strategy builds a strong platform for content, establishes priorities but also leaves room for innovative ideas and makes the most of the PSLs in the firm. The innovation theme continued into the second day with a presentation from Eric Hunter, Director of Knowledge and Innovation & Technology Strategies at Bradford and Barthel LLP. Eric spoke about the opportunities of introducing artificial intelligence (AI) into the KM world through knowledge analysis and behavioural learning, tracking and application.
Continuing on the theme of innovation, Andy Wishart, Global Head for ContractExpress part of Thomson Reuters Legal Solutions, took us through some of the ways document automation can lead to better collaboration with clients. Andy described how ContractExpress can lead to improved online client services and help law firms get access to vital matter data that could then be fed back into the automation process – ultimately improving the quality of the legal documents the firm produces.
Nicky Leijtens from NautaDutilh really struck a chord with attendees when she said; “We need to stop talking about innovation, and start innovating”. Nicky introduced the concept of ’design thinking’, a methodology that can help organisations, including law firms, bridge the gap between the firm and their clients which will lead to a deeper understanding of their needs. Law firms often claim they understand their clients the most out of all their competitors, but what does this actually look like? It means making sure that there is a clear view of the client journey throughout the relationship, avoiding assumptions where possible, continuously communicating with the client and tailoring the legal content that the firm offers.
The day finished off with an interesting panel discussion with Ruth Ward, Allen and Overy, Simone Pearlman, Herbert Smith Freehills and Max Hubner, PGGM. They highlighted how client needs and efficiency gains can be met through digital portals, the importance of surveying clients about their preferences when it comes to receiving content , and KM’s role in introducing forward thinking client facing tools, which will increase efficiency as well as client relationships.
Our next event in Europe will be the Knowledge Management Forum 2016 in London, where Andy Wishart, Global Head for ContractExpress will join a panel discussing the drafting process and what tools KM teams could be using in order to position themselves as part of the solution.