Knowledge-management strategies are a natural partner to HR, especially as the term human capital has become more popular with its emphasis on firm-wide knowledge sharing and organisational learning. Karen Battersby, course leader of Nottingham Law School’s postgraduate diploma in knowledge management for legal practice, explores the components of a knowledge-management system and highlights the range of benefits knowledge sharing can have in UK law firms.
There has been an explosion in knowledge-management activity, particularly in UK law firms over the past ten years. Typically, firms have employed dedicated lawyers (professional-support lawyers) to carry out knowledge activities, such as the creation of precedent-legal documentation and keeping fee earners updated on new aspects of the law.
They have also acquired sophisticated IT systems to store and retrieve accumulated knowledge. However, market conditions are now tougher, and law firms often see any non-fee-earning activities as overheads, which need to be cut to maintain the firm’s profitability. But, viewing knowledge management as a non-essential activity that can be dropped without causing harm to the firm ...