Toward a Model of Growth Stages for Knowledge Management Technology in Law Firms

By Gottschalk, Petter | Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline, Annual 2002 | Go to article overview

Toward a Model of Growth Stages for Knowledge Management Technology in Law Firms


Gottschalk, Petter, Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline


Introduction

Knowledge management has long been considered an important approach for law firms in gaining competitive advantage. The role of information technology in knowledge management is increasing, and law firms are applying different kinds of technology to support knowledge management. This article proposes a model of growth stages for knowledge management technology in law firms. The model is useful to understand the current stage in a specific law firm, and it is useful to develop strategies for future use of information technology in a law firm.

The article is organized as follows. First, law firms are defined in terms of knowledge organizations. Then, knowledge management is presented in terms of the knowledge-based view of the firm. In the third section, knowledge categories in law firms are presented. The role of IT is then discussed before stages of growth models are presented. Finally, the proposed knowledge management technology (KMT) stage model is presented and applied to law firms. Law Firms

A law firm can be understood as a social community specializing in the speed and efficiency in the creation and transfer of legal knowledge (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). Many law firms represent large corporate enterprises, organizations, or entrepreneurs with a need for continuous and specialized legal services that can only be supplied by a team of lawyers. The client is a customer of the firm, rather than just the customer of a particular lawyer. According to Galanter and Palay (1991), relationships with clients tend to be enduring. Such repeat clients are able to gain benefits from the continuity and economies of scale and scope enjoyed by the firm.

Lawyers can be defined as knowledge workers. They are professionals who have gained knowledge through formal education (explicit) and through learning on the job (tacit). Often there is some variation in the quality of their education and learning. The value of professionals' education tends to hold throughout their careers. For example, lawyers in Norway are asked whether they got the good grade of 'laud' (now A), even 30 years after graduation. Professionals' prestige (which is based partly on the institutions from which they obtained their education) is a valuable organizational resource because of the elite social network that provides access to valuable external resources for the firm (Hitt et al., 2001).

After completing their advanced educational requirements, most professionals enter their careers as associates in law. In this role, they continue to learn and thus, they gain significant tacit knowledge through learning-by-doing. Therefore, they largely bring explicit knowledge derived from formal education into their firms and build tacit knowledge through experience (Hitt et al., 2001).

Most professional service firms use a partnership form of organization. In such a framework, those who are highly effective in using and applying knowledge are eventually rewarded with partner status, and thus own stakes in a firm. On their road to partnership, these professionals acquire considerable knowledge, much of which is tacit. Thus, by the time professionals achieve partnership, they have built human capital in the form of individual skills (Hitt et al., 2001).

Lawyers work in law firms, and law firms belong to the legal industry. According to Becker et al. (2001), the legal industry will change rapidly because of three important trends. First, global companies increasingly seek out law firms that can provide consistent support at all business locations and integrated cross-border assistance for significant mergers and acquisitions, as well as capital-market transactions. Second, client loyalty is decreasing as companies increasingly base purchases of legal services on a more objective assessment of their value, defined as benefits net of price. Finally, new competitors have entered the market, such as accounting firms and Internet-based legal services firms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Toward a Model of Growth Stages for Knowledge Management Technology in Law Firms
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.