The Quest for Better Search: How Modern Law Firms Strengthen Collaboration Within the Data Maze

Knowledge Management

The Quest for Better Search: How Modern Law Firms Strengthen Collaboration Within the Data Maze

In our latest Legal Business Report titled “The New Knowledge Management: From Luxury to Necessity,” we explore how the digital transformation (DX) will impact business over the next few years, and the new demands DX will place on law firms. Prioritizing knowledge management (KM), also known as the strategic delivery of consolidated client information, to optimize operational efficiency was previously thought of as a luxury, but now, investing in innovation is necessary to stay competitive. Modern KM strategies are more important than ever to increase business from new and existing clients and keep the best talent in-house.

As we observed in the 2019 Business of Law and Legal Technology Survey, operational efficiency, technology adoption, and change management are top challenges, all of which revolve around the efficient delivery of legal services. With the majority of respondents seeing other law firms as competition, client relationships are vital to maintaining success. How can firms keep and expand existing business, stay ahead of the competition, and provide transparency to clients? The answer lies in harnessing the firm’s central data and knowledge for productive use and enabling collaboration among lawyers and staff with effective (KM) tools.

Firms that struggle with linking the collective expertise of talented lawyers and necessary information in a unique digital KM space are not alone. Most are challenged with navigating the maze of data compiled over the firm’s tenure and expertise that separates lawyers from the knowledge needed for matters. This is why more firm leaders are looking to upgrade KM with enterprise search capabilities.

Search is not new to the world of knowledge management in law firms. Once documents transitioned from paper to the digital world, the ability to search for relevant data was not far behind. The technology was not as advanced, and searchers were left frustrated when relevant documents were lost in a maze of data across platforms. Today’s capabilities allow professionals a centralized search location with advanced AI that finds not only necessary documents but connects lawyer experience to matters.

When the valuable enterprise search tool is integrated, it helps users instantly navigate growing knowledge to find exactly what is needed. Here’s a closer look at the advantages of using this beneficial tool in KM platforms:

Navigating the data labyrinth

Living in the digital age, we are accustomed to a user-friendly consumer search experience. Whether it be Amazon or a favorite retailer’s eCommerce site, we are familiar with a search experience that gives us what we seek and other results that relate. So, it is not unheard of to wish for this capability when searching for specific internal firm data and other relevant information.

Firm data such as business intelligence, DMS documents, financials, legal research, people and matters are typically scattered across different platforms. Having this data separated in silos across several arenas can leave the user lost in a labyrinth of data with wasted time and the possibility of not finding the desired information. But enterprise data search provides the thread to automatically navigate the data across silos to reach comprehensive results.

Codify firm expertise

The smart enterprise search gives lawyers and their assistants the valuable information needed to provide the best case and matter representation without spending time checking the maze of multiple systems. Beyond using enterprise search to find documents related to a specific matter or metric, it can help them tap into the collective experience and wisdom of current and past associates.

The advanced coding of this tool is able to match basic search associations and additional results from memos, financial data, and team members with related expertise. This is especially helpful for today’s global firm with offices in several locations and time zones, as it is not always feasible to contact an associate at the moment. The power to collaborate with shared experience and find it quickly is invaluable, and it gives modern firms an advantage against competition.

Decision maker’s dream

Gaining law firm leadership support for innovation projects is not always the easiest task. Appealing to leaders is better when there is a clear benefit to not only the firm’s strategic goals but to their individual roles as well. Enterprise search goes beyond benefiting the lawyers of the firm that are focused on matters. Decision-makers can pull firm-wide data for accurate analytics and metrics promptly. This helps them spend more time focusing on trends and problem-solving ─ time that was previously spent manually combing through data.

Finance leaders can leverage enterprise search in KM for their tracking. CFOs can stay closely informed on WIP, realization rates, and A/R. Supervisors can also track associate performance and take note of areas in need of further development. When these leaders can use automation to spend more time productively leading instead of searching for areas of improvement, the whole firm benefits. Plus, IT leaders are at ease with the firm’s data securely stored and accessed on any device.

Searching for the future

With legal technology, the importance is not solely about the technology and what it can do, but the way the people of the firm will use the technology to reach their goals. Adjusting to enterprise search within KM may have a few growing pains at first, as with implementing any change, but the familiar experience will yield long-term success. It will help the firm not only navigate the data maze but do it quickly and accurately.

How will enterprise search grow in the future? Some foresee the search will integrate with more smart AI technology in the coming years, allowing users to verbally speak their search inquiry while multitasking. Regardless, the technology with search, KM, and other legal technology will evolve as the needs of law firms and their clients grow.

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