LegalIT reports in Top Scottish firms pool know-how on KM project that several Scottish firms have teamed to create a “groundbreaking KM project to share knowledge across sectors.” This is the first time that “a large group of competing firms have decided to pool and share their knowledge.”
The project is driven by a product called Orkell from Legal Data Solutions. I spent some time on this web site and the company has a very interesting idea. The company provides a content management platform and, more importantly, uses that platform to aggregate and re-distribute (essentially syndicate) content from multiple law firms. Firms contribute content to the company and the company in turn re-distributes the aggregated content back to the contributors.
The Orkell product demonstration is worth reviewing. It is positioning the service to help law firms that serve consumers avoid losing share to publishers and start-ups offering alternatives to traditional legal services. The aggregated data is designed to help consumers via question and answer pairs, fact sheets, and documents. Providing this information can be a form of marketing or can be set up to generate revenue by charging for documents. The company provides content management and web sites, branding each site with a contributing firm's unique look and feel.
While this new and innovative service appears targeted at consumers and smaller businesses, there are two potential lessons here for large law firms. First, it makes knowledge management an external facing activity. By developing know-how that is delivered to the outside world, a feedback loop is automatically created. If providing know-how generates neither leads nor revenue, presumably this is an economic signal that the activity is not viable. Many internally focused KM programs lack such signals.
Second, it makes KM a collective undertaking. While there are many business and potential legal issues involved in syndicating legal content, it is a very interesting business model. The presumption appears to be that the participating firms do not have the scale to provide content across all areas of client interest. Large law firms can offer more content on their own, but it may be that even the largest firms do not have all the answers (if they did, why other than conflicts would any one corporation have more than one outside firm?). I am not suggesting that large law firms rush to share content, but it is an interesting idea. It seems to me that from a client perspective, that would be a desirable outcome. [Strategic Legal Technology]