To Talk of Many Things has an entry on What if Clients Were to Pay for Knolwedge Management that focuses on legal KM.
The "aha" moment is that inhouse counsel should cause their outside counsel to create "debriefings" at the conclusion of most large matters. Such debriefings would require some or all of the lawyers who worked on a matter to:
- Summarize the matter, probably using a series of pre-defined questions
- Collect the final version of the most important documents, and, where necessary, explain in a cover sheet how the document relates to the matter
- Explain how this matter relates to other work the firm has done for the client
- Provide a list of the lawyers and any outside experts or consultants who worked the most on the matter
Clients could benefit directly from this type of KM effort, especially if they asked all their outside counsel systematically to perform such debriefings (sometimes called "post-mortems"). There would, of course, be some issues to resolve such as the most appropriate way to store and access this information.
Of course, law firms would benefit as well because they would have incentives (the usual billable hours) to do the work and because they themselves would find it valuable to have their own work systematically "cataloged." But if most clients did this, they would benefit indirectly from the collective effort of law firms. Costs for all clients should fall if firms are more readily able to re-use know-how across matters and clients.
But if this model works, it could apply to any kind of engagement with outside firms. The caveats mentioned are mostly behavioral: are the clients willing to pay a little extra to have these post mortems? More importantly, how will the clients use the information once they have it?