Legal KM: slow burn, low impact?

2014-11-16 14.41.19Last week, I suggested that KMers in law might aim for greater impact by challenging their firms. Today, Nick Milton has published more insights from his global knowledge management survey that may support a similar conclusion.

Nick’s post provides some statistics on the penetration of KM across a number of sectors, compared with the length of time it has been a focus. Each survey respondent reported on their organisation’s maturity by choosing one of five options:

  • We are investigating KM but not yet started
  • We are in the early stages of introducing KM
  • We are well in progress with KM
  • KM is embedded in the way we work
  • We have tried KM and given up

The results highlight some striking differences between different sectors, as shown in the diagram below. The disparity between the construction/engineering sector and education/training is particularly intriguing.

In terms of KM maturity, the legal services sector is in the mid-table. Nearly 40% of firms have yet to start with KM or are only in the early stages, whilst over 20% report that KM is embedded. However, this has been a long journey. In the table showing how long KM has been part of the organisation, the legal sector is significantly ahead of the others.

As Nick points out, this makes the legal sector the “most noteworthy outlier”, especially when compared with construction and engineering, where KM has been present on average more than two years less, but has achieved a significantly more mature state in that time — nearly 40% embedded in working practices.

I suspect that there are many factors at play here — including some systemic issues such as the partnership nature of law firms, time-based billing, and the complexity of the law itself. Whatever the causes, Nick’s data suggests that there is still much for legal KMers to do to really make a difference for their firms.

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