Are the 7 Faces of Legal KM Simply Enterprise Content Management?

I gained lots of insight from Day 1 at the LawTech Canada conference earlier this week.

Deloitte, one of the sponsors, had two good sessions on enterprise content management and on preventing information leakage. On the topic of enterprise content management, I realized that my paper on “The 7 Faces of Legal Knowledge Management” (here in PDF) was, in part, discussing enterprise content management without using that phrase (to the extent that most knowledge managers in the legal environment manage a wide variety of information across the organization).

There are, however, I think 2 main reasons knowledge managers in the legal profession don’t necessarily use the phrase “enterprise content information” management to describe their work, even when they are involved in a lot of information-related tasks including document management, records management, knowledge management, litigation management, risk management and project management:

1) The Myopic Reason: The adjective “legal” in the phrase “legal knowledge management” suggests we focus specifically on issues and practices within our own legal community (legal precedents, legal research, and so on). This is both good and bad: good because we likely do face some unique issues and content not faced in other industries and bad because I think legal knowledge managers can learn from how other disciplines have applied enterprise content management, especially the accounting firms, who are often in front of the curve on this issue.

2) The Size Reason: One might make the argument that “enterpise content management” (as a phrase and concept) has more resonance in large organizations where there are thousands – or tens of thousands – of employees spread across many offices across the world. In such organizations, there is both a greater need and a larger infrastructure to justify or require a larger, more principled approach to content management running the entire gamut of enterprise content.

Or it may simply be there is no substantive difference between legal knowledge management that encompasses a wide variety of tasks (the “7 Faces”) and enterprise content management . . . .

Note: A colleague correctly pointed out that the word “archives” does not appear in my paper on the 7 Faces of Legal KM and I think that was a valid omission to point out (and although I discuss records management, I realize that records management is not the same as managing archival records). I suspect most law firms have at best ad hoc archives of institutional records and memories but I have always felt that capturing this historical firm information is an important part of the “story-telling” aspect of establishing an knowledge-sharing environment.

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