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Knowledge Management: Transforming Litigation Discovery into Organizational Intelligence

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge Management (“KM”) is a business process that formalizes the management and use of an enterprise’s intellectual assets. (See Gartner, Inc. (2016). IT Glossary. Retrieved from http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/km-knowledge-management/) By adding human insight, KM transforms a flat dataset of information into a treasure trove of centralized intelligence, which can be used to make informed business decisions. KM solutions can be tailored to fit each organization’s needs, and can be deployed in companies of all sizes and types. In the law firm environment, the 2015 Altman Weil “Law Firms in Transition” Survey reports that nearly 57% of responding law firms use KM to increase their efficacy of legal services.

In the specific context of litigation and regulatory discovery, our experience at DiscoverReady shows that a comprehensive knowledge management strategy can play a critical role in shaping future decisions by clients and counsel. KM can also drive up the quality, consistency and efficiency of work product.  In this blog, we’ll cover some approachable starting points to build a robust KM program into discovery efforts.

Knowledge Management: Transforming Litigation Discovery into Organizational Intelligence

 

Lessons Learned During Issue Coding: Decision Logs

Memorializing lessons learned in current litigation for future use is an important part of Knowledge Management.  Logging decisions made throughout the course of a matter, which can include a range of topics from review guideline changes to issue spotting guidance, is a critical component of a centralized knowledge base. Without a method to capture and make accessible operationally obtained knowledge, it can easily be lost or forgotten about for future use.  To maximize the utility of decision logging, record both what decision was made and why the decision was made. Regularly circulating decision logs arms review teams with the ability to understand the rationale behind a decision, and it enables the team to make better future decisions. Decision logging is also an effective knowledge management transfer tool.  At the conclusion of a matter, logs can be finalize and circulated among internal legal departments, outside counsels, and from one outside counsel to another for future matters.  When new litigation matters emerge, past logs can be easily searched and reviewed to inform the new case team.

Beyond Decision Logging:  Discovery-Related Enterprise Information Assets

Leveraging information gathered throughout the course of litigation can be used to implement cost and time savings.  For example, outside counsel may repeatedly interview and collect documents from the same custodians because they are involved with a frequently litigated product.  The custodian becomes caught in an unproductive cycle of providing the same information multiple times to different counsels.  This type of inefficiency can be addressed by utilizing cross-matter enterprise information assets.

Start by identifying areas where historical institutional knowledge isn’t currently captured. Once the knowledge gap is detected, then build a strategy to gain insight into these various information assets.  Taking a detailed look at different information assets, such as custodians, products and patents involved in past litigations, can reveal patterns giving clients the full picture of litigation. These patterns can also pinpoint information assets that could be leveraged across litigation matters, such as enterprise products, legal issues, and important documents.  These concise asset profiles can be referenced at the onset of new litigation to eliminate the need to re-collect, re-process and re-review data that is consistently used across matters. Easy access to all of this knowledge allows clients to learn from past successes and failures and make informed decisions for the future.

Easy Access to Information:  Enterprise Content Management System

One of the pitfalls of KM can be getting the information into a useable format. All the hard work compiling and analysis data is wasted if it is not made readily accessible. Therefore, making all of this knowledge available to end users through an enterprise content management (“ECM”) system and portal is the most valuable component of a KM strategy.  An effective ECM system will be customizable, to address specific client needs.  A “self-service” system typically works best, so users can walk through data records while simultaneously retrieving all related data points. A system with full-text Boolean searches of all data is also extremely valuable, as it allows clients to effortlessly access and input information into the ECM system.

DiscoverReady recognizes the vital role a KM strategy can play in driving quality, consistency and efficiency in litigation.  Many of our clients are already seeing the benefits of KM by using our tailored solutions to educate litigation teams and gain insight for future use. If you would like to discuss a KM solution to meet your KM needs, contact us at better@discoverready.com.

Kellen Sibley-Smith