Let’s face it: your clients probably didn’t hire you as their lawyer because of your rugged good looks, keen fashion sense, or sharp wit. We’re sure you also have all of those great traits, but as a lawyer, knowledge is your true currency. Clients value your legal expertise, your practical know-how, and your firm grasp on facts, background, and contextual knowledge. They know that you can discern what’s important to them both in the moment and strategically over the long term. That’s why they come to you in the first place, and it’s why they keep coming back.
But keeping up with all of that knowledge—and then having it right at your fingertips when you need to reuse it in the future—is the tricky part. That’s where knowledge management comes in.
What Is Knowledge Management?
Knowledge management (KM) is the means by which organizations locate, save, and then reuse their collective knowledge and expertise. It encompasses everything from familiar processes—such as writing down a client’s phone number, listing significant issues and making notes during a client interview —to cutting-edge technologies that automatically detect useful facts and squirrel them away in a database.
Huge law firms have entire KM teams with support staff on call, compiling precedents with legal authority and case law references, managing a well-stocked reference library, collecting knowledge from all corners of the firm, and creating reusable templates and form documents for future use. As a solo or small firm practitioner, you probably don’t have that luxury.
But that doesn’t mean KM is out of your reach. Patrick DiDomenico, author of Knowledge Management for Lawyers, says that “the main reason that any organization should pursue knowledge management is to help build a better, more sustainable, and more profitable business.” No matter what size your practice is, doesn’t that sound like something worth investigating?
Benefits of Knowledge Management—Even in Small Firms
When you can successfully extract all of the various types of knowledge and information you have within your practice (or just inside your own head) and store all of those data points in a searchable, accessible, central location, you can start to leverage that knowledge for later use. That means:
You can provide more value to your clients, getting them better results in less time, because you don’t have to keep starting over every time you handle a matter or transaction for them.
You can improve your own efficiency by using forms, templates, and relevant case precedents, all of which reduces the amount of time you spend doing administrative busywork, searching for information, or recreating documents.
You’ll experience less stress and frustration because you’ll know what you know, and you’ll be able to put your hands on that information quickly and easily.
Where to Start Your Solo or Small Firm Knowledge Management Practice
The key to starting a KM practice is to consolidate the information you have into one functional storage system. That means gathering all of the facts, cases, arguments, and details you currently have across all your silos or systems—email, hard drives, network drives, document management systems, your brain, and even your paper files and notes. You need something that can collect all of that information—ideally without taking up your time to do it—preserve it for future searches, and store it in one place.
The richer and more complete the information you collect, the better you can filter and search through it in the future. Likewise, the more accessible your collected knowledge is—from wherever you happen to be working—the better you’ll be able to refer to it and reuse it.
That’s where Cognito comes in. As you work ,Cognito automatically collects and organizes all of the key snippets of knowledge you gather or create; drafts, notes, documents, contacts, and text-based information as categorized details and securely preserves that data in a structured, searchable format that makes it easy to find and reuse later. Contact us to learn more or set up a demonstration.