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Legal technology needs a culture of knowledge

Jack Shepherd

In Kenneth Jones’ recent article for Legal Evolution, he sets out a compelling argument that process (automated or otherwise) can still benefit from the personal touch. Indeed, you will hear no argument from me that what makes knowledge work is the combination of human and digital efforts.

Streamlining knowledge workflows or happy accidents

What I do find curious is that there is a distinction between standard processes and designing workflows. So little of how lawyers do their day-to-day work is designed. Processes have sprung up by accident and continue to do so. In many places, it’s not like somebody said: “this is the best way of doing things” – the process was just stumbled upon.

This is why adopting and using new processes and tools is such a skill. People are so used to organic processes that they think nothing can be defined and are suspicious when you restrict the ability to re-invent things every time you do them. If we can strive for rigour in streamlining knowledge workflows, we reduce inefficiencies in knowledge transfer and measure knowledge productivity and its true impact.

The new knowledge-sharing culture

In a recent interview with Briefing, I shared how you can wish upon a digital transformation all you want, but it will still only come about by rethinking knowledge structures and enabling collaboration and connectivity.

My exact words were: “hybrid working has actually been a positive for knowledge overall – that might seem counterintuitive because you can’t physically go to ask a knowledge management person or another lawyer at the office for help. It requires more structure, like a pre-arranged meeting. That’s actually an opportunity to re-design how knowledge sharing works. There’s no reason to think serendipity, or incidental, in-person knowledge sharing, was ever the best method for sharing knowledge.”

Curating a modern technology stack

When you build out your modernisation plan as an organisation, you will be entertaining many conversations about the tools and technology that will get you and your colleagues there. In a highly regulated industry such as legal, security is a prerequisite of that conversation. Still, when we reflect on that need for a cultural rethink in handling knowledge, modernisation requires balancing security and accessibility – it’s where your day-to-day needs to meet the technology you use at the intersection of collaboration and productivity. Until next time, build out your culture around knowledge.

 

This article first appeared on LPMmag.co.uk in May 2022

About the author

Jack Shepherd

Legal Practice Lead at iManage