Knowledge management, otherwise known simply as KM, has been a hot topic in e-discovery circles as of late. While the discipline is approximately 20 years old, it has only recently been catching on in the legal technology industry. Previously, it has been well known in business, management, and information sciences. Since the practice of law has grown increasingly intertwined with business, management, and information sciences, it is only natural that KM has become a topic of interest. Law firms, corporate counsel, and the support systems that help both entities function at their best, have all become enamored of KM.
But what is it, exactly? And how does it apply to the legal technology industry?
Loosely defined, knowledge management covers the identification, capture, preservation, distribution, and application of knowledge. In other words, it is how intangible assets such as experience and insight are made tangible. For example, when a long term employee retires or leaves an organization, they often take valuable information with them. This information could be as specific as a particular work process or it could be as vague as knowing which team members work best together, or who is best suited for certain tasks. Anyone who has ever dealt with the departure of a manager knows how challenging it can be to retain or regain the efficiency and productivity that the team had before. Theoretically, a robust set of KM practices could help alleviate the difficulties.
The application of KM to e-discovery is obvious, once you understand what KM is and what problems it aims to solve. Review and case management have only gotten more complex. Information relevant to a case is not only found in an old fashioned file cabinet, but in email accounts, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, and the cloud. Information doesn’t disappear once the original document is lost or altered; it sticks around, with copies found in all sorts of unintuitive places. These changes have happened both quickly and comprehensively, and it has been tricky for the practice of law to keep up with them. The explosion of various methodologies, technologies, systems, and solutions offered for e-discovery has further complicated the picture.
The EDRM already includes “Information Management.” Could is be plausible that KM will be included at some point?