Getting Spoiled by Google

At December’s Toronto Knowledge Management lunch, there was a brief discussion of how user expectations (particularly non-expert searcher expectations) have been raised by the ease and seeming reliability of the Google ease of interface. So I was interested to see how Freshfields developed their user interface for KM.

The article is called
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer Launches Next Generation Knowledge Management System

International law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has launched ‘Athena’, a fully integrated legal know-how system.

The new application will standardise knowledge management (KM) working practices, enabling even faster client service delivery by providing access to the latest legal expertise for the firm’s 2,500 lawyers across its international network of offices.

Athena has been designed and developed in-house and comprises a web-based application that stores and delivers all of the firm’s legal know-how through one online repository. The system has been created so that lawyers, no matter where they are based, can access all of the firm’s know-how.

Director of knowledge management development at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Julia Randell-Khan, who led the KM Project Athena team in collaboration with the firm’s IT department, said, ‘An extensive review of the firm’s KM activities found a significant change in the type of work clients require, from the traditional jurisdiction driven work to demand for cross-border product driven work. Without fully integrated KM working practices and systems, law firms with international networks like Freshfields cannot respond efficiently and quickly to this shift.’

Michael Hertz, chief knowledge officer at Freshfields, explained, ‘Our goal with Athena was to deliver the know-how resources to the right people at the right time. From the lawyer’s perspective, the requirement was simple: ‘I want Google.’ This meant they wanted to be able to search all our internal know-how collections using a few words and find relevant results promptly.’

‘Having searched the market for an off-the-shelf KM technology product, we found that none of them would satisfy even 50 per cent of our KM requirements. We therefore decided to develop Athena in-house, adopting an approach that integrated best-of-breed commercial products with bespoke applications, resulting in a single cohesive system.’

Commenting on the successful roll-out of the system, Machiel Lambooij, Amsterdam-based tax partner and a sponsor of the project, added, ‘Athena has already demonstrably streamlined internal processes, saving significant time for our lawyers and resulting in faster and more accurate responses to clients.’

Verity has also published a technical profile of how the service works.

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