Digital White Papers

July 2014: Knowledge Management

publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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ILTA WHITE PAPER: JULY 2014 WWW.ILTANET.ORG 26 Large law firms are noisy places. They are inherently complex. Multiple businesses and business models coexist, brought together within a complex partnership structure. The loose yet powerful bonds of partnership combine to create an environment that is essentially federal in character (or perhaps "feudal" is the more accurate term). The difficulties inherent in building consensus and establishing quick, coordinated decision-making in federal systems are well known, and law firms are no exception. Partners expect — and are usually given — high levels of autonomy. Cooperation with new organizational initiatives is often optional, and leadership is by consensus and influence. Multiple priorities compete for attention from shared organizational resources, and while there might be an overarching strategy that is well understood, stark differences of opinion emerge in its execution. Entrenched differences can emerge in the practicalities of where to prioritize investment, including whether to divert resources and attention to building consensus. There is also environmental noise. Law firms historically have not been under much pressure to change their business models and practices. This is no longer the case. The legal press is abuzz with the next disruptive innovation, with new threats and opportunities. Identifying the significant developments and trends from this tsunami of information is challenging. The recent ILTA Legal Technology Future Horizons report identified the following issues impacting the legal industry now: • An accelerating pace of technology disruption and diffusion, bringing associated challenges of adapting to rapid systems change • A need to respond to client expectations around value, speed, innovation and security • Intensifying competition that changes firm structures, business models and new entrants with a heightened focus on talent • The impacts of consumerization, commoditization, automation and the pursuit of optimal firm scale • Opportunities and competitive challenges presented by emerging economies • Pursuit of differentiation in the face of continuing change These changes are occurring whether legal organizations opt into them or not. These issues must play into the strategic aspects of knowledge management (KM) as we lay down the foundation for adaptation to future change. SIGNAL TO NOISE: LOCATE AND FOCUS ON VALUE AMID COMPLEXITY About the Study A forward-looking global study exploring how advances in information technology (IT) could impact the legal profession over the next decade was undertaken during 2013 by Fast Future Research at the behest of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). The study used a combination of desk research, interviews, workshops and two global surveys — one explored the business applications of IT in the legal sector, and the other provided input to create an emerging technology timeline. The resulting report, Legal Technology Future Horizons, provides the critical findings and implications emerging from the study. Download the full report at www.iltanet.org/ltfh.

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