Knowledge Management Systems and the Large Law Firm by Cynthia Graton on KnolwedgeBoard:
Law firms, which are overwhelmingly established as partnerships, can easily dismiss ROI numbers related to publicly traded companies. However, it may be useful to compare them with another type of professional services company -- accounting firms -- in particular Ernst & Young. According to Tim Curry, Global Chief Knowledge officer, their leadership in KM is due in large part to their investment in KM. He finds a direct "correlation between excellence in KM and business success."
[Via ColumnTwo via excited utterances]
The article describes the general problem of law firms -- to increase reputation and profits -- and why it has been traditionally difficult to move KM into the firms.
In the section on "What a Large Law Firm KMS Should Do," Grayton quotes Michael Stankosky from GWU's KM program, with whom Grayton works:
the success of a KMS depends on balancing initiatives on four conceptual and management pillars: Leadership, Organization, Technology and Learning. Failure to address the components of each pillar may render a KMS ineffective at the very least.
While these are familiar, I hadn't heard them articulated as management pillars. These pillars are an articulation of the goals of the firm, regardless of the primary function. With the firm's well-defined commitment in each of these pillars, one can then make sensible appeals for any new approach that will reinforce the pillars.
In the end, a firm that has a solid understanding of where it wants to go can't help but to have a better reputation, and more profits as a result.