Lawyers handle an overwhelming amount of content on a daily basis, which continues to grow. In addition to the transcripts of hearings, briefs, interrogations, and court proceedings that legal transcription outsourcing companies provide, the assets that lawyers have to manage include best practices, case studies, procedural manuals, legislation, regulations, billing data, plans and templates, email, and more. Effective knowledge management is essential for law firms to leverage this information so that they can deliver high quality legal services. Knowledge management can identify low value added work so that systems and processes can be developed to minimize the time spent on such activities. With more time to spend on challenging work, lawyers can improve productivity and efficiency.
In law firms, knowledge management involves identifying all the types of knowledge they have and how it influences the way they deliver legal services. Knowledge management adoption and use within law firms is driven by the need for:
- Efficient information capture: capturing and centralizing critically important information
- Cost control: providing cost-effective solutions
- Efficiency and stability: standardizing forms, templates, process and procedures are necessary for efficient service delivery
- Flexibility and responsiveness: optimal use of manpower and other resources to meet clients’ specific needs
A recent article in Lexicology notes that efficient knowledge management can help address many of challenges that law firms face. These challenges, according to the Thomson Reuters 2019 State of U.S. Small Firms Report, include concerns about “spending too much time on administrative tasks, controlling costs, keeping abreast of new tech, a lack of internal efficiency, keeping up with the competition, getting paid by their clients, and clients demanding “more for less” or pushing back on firm rates.”
According to experts, the following technologies can unlock the potential of knowledge management in law firms:
- Database management software: Secure electronic file management systems store the law firm’s know-how, data, files, tasks and activities and allow lawyers to access and manage all of this knowledge in a single repository. Machine-generated and automated content can easily used and shared by teams. Automated document production and workflow increases accuracy, reduces risk, and saves time and resources.
- Communication technology: Group communication tools such as email, instant messaging, and forums allow legal professionals to work as a team. These tools ensure collaboration and discussion which are essential to derive useful information from a law firm’s data. For effective knowledge management, communication technology needs to be integrated with data management systems and other work processes.
- Cloud and Mobile: Cloud computing or hosted services and mobile go hand in hand. Hosted software or services can be accessed and used over the Internet using a browser or a mobile app. Cloud technology facilitates integration of different knowledge management tools and provides a cost-effective way to access legal resources. The American Bar Association’s most recent Legal Technology Survey reported that 55% of lawyers used cloud computing software for law-related tasks over the past year, up from 38% in 2016. The key reasons the popularity of cloud computing are ease of access from any location, 24/7 availability, affordability, low cost of entry, robust data back-up and recovery, the ability to get the software up and running quickly, the elimination of IT and software management requirements, and better security than the firms could provide in-office.
- Artificial intelligence (AI): According to an article published by Law Technology Today, AI can perform legal research quickly, accurately review documents and contracts, and predict legal outcomes by providing insight on legal cases. Applying AI can better equip lawyers for knowledge management and improve the quality of their services. Chatbots and apps providing dedicated lawyers on demand are changing the way legal information is obtained and retrieved.
Efficient knowledge management helps law firms meet changing client demands, which include lower costs and services in faster turnaround time. By helping lawyers to analyze and share data, manage caseloads, and even forecasting outcomes, legal technology is demonstrating its immense potential to navigate knowledge management. Digital transcription service providers play a key role in helping law firms maintain competence in document management by ensuing high quality solutions, cost-effective solutions in quick turnaround time.