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5 ways law firms are finding their edge with knowledge

Ian Truscott

Today, how fast a firm can leverage its knowledge, make it available across the business and leverage the value of this critical business asset is a competitive edge. Managing these knowledge assets, those essential documents, and emails in a secure, matter-centric repository is a great start, but what's next?

It's time to empower your firm with a little extra speed. By making it even easier to find and use the correct information and precedent at the right time to give the answers the client is waiting for and enable lawyers to make decisions even more quickly. 

Investing in advanced, intelligent search is about investing in knowledge, treating it as a valuable business asset, and making it more retrievable unlocks the competitive advantage of collective knowledge.

1.  Build on the DMS Foundation

A modern Document Management System is the essential backbone for making knowledge work. When well implemented, it gives this edge by providing a searchable, well-ordered, matter or topic-centric repository of documents and emails that connects people and information and provides a foundation for collaboration.

Firms can find additional advantages by building on this foundation and taking a holistic approach, looking beyond documents and emails in the DMS to include other matter management products, using enterprise search. This approach enables lawyers to dig deep into the organization's collective knowledge and uncover insights from places they might not usually look, unlocking hidden knowledge.

Connecting disparate data sources with a modern AI-powered knowledge solution, firms can quickly unlock information from all their documents and systems, increasing their strategic advantage.

2.  Make it Easy

Searching for information is frustrating; finding what you need is empowering, and removing this friction improves productivity and employee satisfaction. The complexity of enterprise search should be in the background, and the experience for the user must be intuitive, seamless, and consistent regardless of the source of the information or the system.

When the firm makes it simple for its lawyers to find and apply that knowledge, it ensures that every client benefits from its deep experience and expertise and how it all plays well together.

3.  Turn Content into Knowledge

A well-ordered repository of documents and emails is an excellent platform for making knowledge work, but to turn content into insight requires firms to pay attention to metadata.  Metadata, the machine-readable tagging that enables systems to understand the content, enables AI to be applied to understand the relationships between these assets and provide more powerful search recommendations in the context of the matter.

To turn content into collective knowledge, firms need to ensure content is tagged correctly in the background, with well-defined taxonomies and metadata schemas. Yet, no firm wants lawyers to spend their time understanding the intricacies of metadata schemas or taxonomies.  It is essential firms stay mindful of keeping it easy by providing lawyers with a search user experience that is guided by filters and facets to help them navigate search results. In addition, tagging new work has to be even easier. Ideally, it should happen automatically as part of the lawyer's workflow, so they only have to focus on their work product.

4.  Make Experts Findable

Searching for knowledge within a large firm and unlocking the value of bringing additional services to a client is not just about finding documents but also finding the experts who can help.

A modern AI-powered knowledge solution can join the dots, using machine learning to analyze content, practice area, jurisdiction, and other matter activities to identify other experts in the firm connecting the people behind the content.  So not only can the lawyers find the latest best practice template, but they can connect to experts who have worked on similar matters in similar jurisdictions, immediately leveraging internal knowledge.

5.  Learn from the experts

Joshua Fireman, who has practiced law with two of North America's largest law firms and as in-house counsel at a multi-billion-dollar multinational corporation, is recognized as one of the leading experts in law firm strategic consulting and thought leader in knowledge management. In this video series, he shares his experience of implementing enterprise search using iManage, and steps through the process of gaining this advantage.


Like a sports team or an athlete, finding a little bit of extra speed for law firms means building on the core of what is there, a modern document management system. Law firms can gain more performance by leveraging the information across their organization with enterprise search, putting that information at the fingertips of the entire firm, turning data into institutional knowledge, giving them that competitive edge.

About the author

Ian Truscott