AN INNOVATIVE web-based knowledge centre has earned Illawarra firm Kells The Lawyers the 2008LawTech Best Practice in Knowledge Management Award.
The firm picked up the award at the third annual LawTech summit held recently at Byron Bay. The aim of the awards is to promote excellence in legal IT in Australia, and the Best Practice in Knowledge Management Award specifically rewards outstanding achievement in the process of collating, organising, sharing and analysing a knowledge database.
The awards are peer judged and the criteria include innovative content, improved processes and accessibility to information and measureable results.
Kells picked up the award for its “Know How Centre”, which the firm’s knowledge manager, Helen Grenge, explained is a searchable, web-based storehouse of information relevant to the firm.
“We have many offices and we needed a way of being able to share knowledge and share resources,” she said. “It’s a challenge to get the tactic knowledge out of someone’s brain and that’s what we were trying to achieve — to get down in writing — in a way that we can search it — all information people have in their heads.”
The centre, which uses Web 2 technology, was developed internally by the firm’s knowledge management team and was launched about 10 months ago.
Grenge explained that it’s an ongoing project whereby anyone in the firm can amend or add information at any time, but that there are content owners for each page who can override changes they don’t like.
“It’s constantly been added to, and I suppose I have the overall responsibility for it — but I don’t take part in its day-to-day creation. It kind of manages itself,” she said.
Aside from general firm information such as policies and procedures, each office is encouraged to share area-specific information for visiting staff from other offices.
“Our individual offices have their own personas and their own individual, niche pockets of information that relate specifically just to that office, and we encourage each office to keep their information up to date. [For example],are there parking areas? Where you would recommend taking a client to lunch? —stuff that if you’re not normally working in that office it would be handy to know,” she said.
The centre is ISO 9001 certified and will be externally audited every year. According to Grenge it has been embraced by staff, one of the reasons being that it’s very easy to use. “It doesn’t take any special training to learn to use it and we’re finding now that more and more people are actually putting in information,” she said.
Also coming away from the summit with LawTech awards in various categories were Minter Ellison’s case management technology company Liift Minter Ellison SA, Arnold Bloch Leibler, Anderssen Lawyers and the Australian Government Solicitor.