I have gathered together here selected articles that I have written for other publications.

Mark Gould, former Head of Knowledge at Addleshaw Goddard, responds to David Halliwell’s opinion piece on artificial intelligence (AI) published in issue 6 of Legal IT Today arguing why AI may not be compatible with legal philosophy and reasoning.

David Halliwell appears to conclude that there is only limited potential for artificial intelligence (AI) in the future of the law. I agree, but for very different reasons. I am less convinced than David is about the possibility of successful legal AI at all.

To date, the main achievement of legal technology has been to allow lawyers to operate at a larger scale or greater speed. But is faster better? Mark Gould, Head of Knowledge Management at Addleshaw Goddard LLP suggests a data-centric approach to technology can shift the focus back to the client.

In many law firms, attention has turned to the use of social software to improve aspects of working performance. As such, adoption of social tools is often being driven by knowledge professionals, sometimes alongside their colleagues in IT or business development (BD). While social tools, well-used, can make a real difference to knowledge-management (KM) activities, many law firm knowledge professionals are less comfortable with them than they are with traditional KM tools and techniques.

This article explores the commonalities between social software and traditional KM. It also points out some of the areas in which those introducing social tools into the firm might learn from the mistakes of early KM. Finally, it indicates some of the ways in which successful use of social tools might be different from our experience with new technologies in the past.

Most of the last 30 or so years during which knowledge management has developed into a discrete law firm function could be characterised as a period during which piecemeal copying was the norm. Typically, new ways of dealing with knowledge have been adopted by the largest firms and then smaller firms take similar measures later on. The result is that there is huge consistency across the largest firms in their general approach to knowledge. (Any variation will be in the details.) Since 2008, the legal sector has been under enormous pressure, which is slowly increasing diversity amongst law firms. That diversity should have an impact on knowledge management, but that requires clarity of understanding exactly what place KM has within the firm and who should drive it. Over time (and between firms), this has shifted from a subservient place reacting to demand and opportunity to a more valued service, aligned with firms’ goals. The next stage is for real strategic engagement with knowledge management.

Article summarising three phases of law firm KM. Concludes:

Over the next few years, it is inevitable that market and regulatory pressures will affect firms in very different ways. Law firms will be much more diverse in a decade’s time, and their knowledge processes must diversify in step with organisational change. More importantly, law firm knowledge management can contribute to defining that change. The key question for Phase III KM (“how can we make things better?”) is as relevant to the firm itself as to the work it does for clients. A properly engaged KM function is essential to enable firms serve clients’ needs as effectively as possible in the face of market and regulatory change.

It is widely acknowledged that the legal industry has reached a watershed moment. The legal partnership offering advice to clients on a cost-plus pricing model driven by the billable hour is becoming an endangered species. The current economic crisis has obviously affected law firms and their clients, with the result that profitability is down across the sector because of a decline in work levels and increased pressure on pricing. At the same time, regulatory change in many jurisdictions is opening up competition for legal services to new players with very different business models. Some of those new to the profession use technology in a very different way, which will affect traditional law firms competing for clients or staff. Now that their people are accustomed to having better technology at home (or in their pockets) than they do at work, they are beginning to ask difficult questions of their IT colleagues. How will this perfect storm affect KM? There are interesting lessons to be drawn from both sides of the Atlantic that might help us understand the impact on the people, processes and technology involved in law firms’ knowledge activities.

Mark Gould discusses the centralisation of the PSL function and says that while ‘more for less’ may be a popular mantra, ‘better for all’ is the way forward.

Mark Gould asks if the time has come for law firms to change their approach to KM and work in the same way as organisations in different industries.

In the second instalment of her series for Inside Knowledge and KIM Legal, Cora Newell and Mark Gould explain Addleshaw Goddard’s individual approach to creating a client-centred knowledge culture.

Carefully selected knowledge management activities elsewhere in the firm can bring real benefits for fee earners as well as business services. This case study looks at some of the work the KM team at UK firm Addleshaw Goddard has been doing to encourage collaboration and KM throughout the business.