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What Is Knowledge Management? An Alternative Career For Lawyers At A Law Firm

Knowledge Management: An Alternative Career For Lawyers At A Law Firm

Is knowledge management an alternative career choice for you?

Technology creates all sorts of great new opportunities for people who have law degrees – today more than ever before. Technological advancements are why new, career change ideas for lawyers like knowledge management are becoming increasingly possible.

As the world continues to move even more online after the pandemic, lawyers are still facing even more stress than ever before. While we may be going back to “normal,” how we conduct business has been changed forever. More people will be working from home, and Zoom will continue to be used where in-person meetings would have before. All of this means that working in a law firm is more challenging than ever before.

With all this added stress, the need for technology is becoming more and more important – but how do lawyers avoid charging clients for reinventing the wheel?

They must create systems that make the collective knowledge of a law firm accessible., which is where knowledge management comes into play. If you like technology and aren’t sure about practicing law, this might be the right career for you.

What is Knowledge Management?

A legal knowledge manager is a type of alternative legal career. At law firms, there is a tremendous amount of information accumulated when lawyers work on cases. They draft briefs, appear in front of judges, create deals, go through negotiations, and much more.

The legal manager’s job is to organize all of that information to ensure that it is available to the next person doing similar work. Ultimately, their job is to make an attorney’s job as easy, efficient, and effective as possible.

What Does a Legal Knowledge Manager Do?

At the level of law firms, lawyers work with both people and processes to gather information, which can become complex and overwhelming.

A legal knowledge manager makes these processes much more accessible. Some examples of what they do include:

  • Implementing a search engine.
  • Setting up a portal to allow attorneys and staff to have information at their fingertips.
  • Setting up business processes to ensure that information is retrievable and reusable.
  • Setting up a system for a practice area to organize their precedents.

A legal knowledge manager will help lawyers gather information and resources to help them with clients and cases. They have an open dialogue with lawyers to help them get the information they need.

Whether you’re exploring alternative careers for lawyers – or even if you’re exploring the different types of lawyers because you want to practice law, you’ll want to watch this interview with David Hobbie to understand the importance of these law firm jobs.

Knowledge is plentiful in a law firm, David explains, but in these days of greater cost pressures, lawyers need to avoid charging clients for reinventing the wheel. As a legal knowledge manager, it is his job to create the systems that make the collective knowledge of a law firm accessible. If you like technology and aren’t sure about practicing law, this might be the right career for you.

Join JDCOT to Learn How to Break into Alternative Legal Careers

Many aspects of a law firm can benefit from the application of knowledge management. To learn more about how to break into these alternative legal careers, who fits the path best, and how to succeed once you’re there, join the JDCOT membership. When you join JDCOT, you gain access to in-depth career interviews and transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you.

At JDCOT, you’ll find videos exploring career paths in law practice as well as videos of non legal jobs for lawyers, like this one on legal knowledge management. Check out what people are saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

WATCH A SNEAK PEEK

Today’s Guest

Legal Knowledge Manager David HobbieLitigation Knowledge Manager David Hobbie
Title: Litigation Knowledge Manager, Goodwin Procter
City: Boston, MA
Law School: University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI
College: Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH
Other Careers: David practiced commercial litigation at large and small firms before going into knowledge management. He also blogs about knowledge management for the International Legal Technology Association and has his own blog, Caselines.
Videos: What Is Knowledge Management & David’s Career Advice

Law Firm Jobs

Practicing Lawyers and their support staff are not the only ones who work at a law firm. There are many opportunities on a firm’s professional staff for law school graduates and experienced lawyers looking to transition into non-legal jobs for lawyers. Along with legal knowledge management, non-practicing lawyers serve in business development, marketing, staffing, professional development, and as librarians. As you’ll see in the Full video, David tells us that while it’s not required, it helps to have a background in law for these law firm jobs.

TRANSCRIPT PREVIEW

This is a preview of the transcript for the video on working in knowledge management.

Join Careers Out There for access to the full version of this transcript plus the career guidance video library & transcripts.

Luber: Hey everyone. Today on JD Careers Out There, we’re looking at the alternative legal career of being a Legal Knowledge Manager, so stick around.

[theme song]

Alright, today’s guest is David Hobbie, who left the practice of law to work in Knowledge Management. Today, he’s a Litigation Knowledge Manager at the Boston office of international law firm, Goodwin Proctor, and he also sits on the knowledge management peer group steering committee of the International Legal Technology Association where he co-runs their blog in addition to his own blog called Case Lines.

As you may already know, at JDCOT we help you find and succeed in fulfilling careers using a law degree by exploring career paths both in law practice and non-legal jobs for lawyers.

I’m your host Marc Luber, the founder of JDCOT. I’ve always used my law degree to work in alternative careers for lawyers – first in the music industry and then as a legal recruiter. I’ve been helping lawyers with their careers since 2003 and I’m excited for the opportunity to help you.

Today, David’s going to tell us all about the path of knowledge management, so let’s get started. David, welcome to JDCOT.

David: Thanks for having me, Marc.

Luber: Thank you for being here, I’m glad you’re here. David, I’m going to ask you to tell us all about this path, who fits it best, how to break in and how to succeed. But first tell us this, what is knowledge management and what does a legal knowledge manager do?

David: At a law firm, there’s a tremendous amount of information that’s accumulated by the course of lawyers doing work, which is drafting briefs and appearing in front of judges and having deals and all kinds of things like that. It’s the legal knowledge manager’s job to organize that information and make sure it’s available to the next person doing a similar type of work and really, to try and make the attorney’s work as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

Luber: And so what is organizing that information? Is it just like I mean I save files on my computer, I just put them away? I’m sure it’s more complex than that. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing to make that happen?

David: Sure. Well you’re working both with people and processes and with information. It’s not just about saving a file. That is your own personal knowledge management maybe, but at the firm level it’s a lot more complex, as you say, it’s a lot more complex than that.

You might be implementing a search engine, you might be helping to set up a portal that lets attorneys and staff have information at their fingertips that they need to do their jobs. You might be setting up business processes to make sure that the information is being stored in a way that it’s retrievable and reusable later on.

Luber: Give me an example here. Let’s say I’m an associate and since you interact with associates, I call you on my office phone and say, “Hey David…” what am I saying to you?

David: “David, my client’s just been sued in Massachusetts state court and I need a sample motion to dismiss.” And I say, “Well, that’s interesting. Can you tell me a little bit more about that suit so I can provide a sample that’s closer to…or sample of resources or information about people who you can talk to who have done that kind of work before.” And we have a dialogue about that and then I would provide information about that. Or sometimes it’s just, “Hey, I know this thing is out there somewhere, can you just tell me how to search for it?”

So sometimes it’s a quick consultation. Sometimes it’s a little more involved. It might be setting up a system for a practice area to organize their precedents, their work product.

Luber: Interesting. So it sounds like so many aspects of a firm have to revolve around knowledge management.

David: Well, I don’t know if they revolve around but they certainly can benefit from the application of knowledge management.

Luber: Alright, let’s continue this discussion in the Full Interview. David will tell us lots more about what it’s like to be a knowledge manager, how to break in to these alternative legal careers, who fits the path best and how to succeed once you’re there.

You’ll want to join the JDCOT membership for access to the full, in-depth career interviews & transcripts that will help you find and land a career that fits you. Check out what people are saying about JDCOT by clicking here.

Thanks again for watching everybody. I’m Marc Luber and I’ll see ya soon.

[theme song]

©2021 Careers Out There

Would you be interested in working at a law firm but not practicing law? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below.

Liked this article? Here are three more:

Stressed-Out Lawyers: Ask These Questions Before Quitting Law Practice
What Career Do Lawyers Typically Change To?
Exploring Nonlegal Careers For Lawyers…you’ve Got Options

This article was originally published in 2013 but has been updated for 2021 just for you. 

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Thinking of leaving the law? The best first step you can take is a good look in the mirror. START HERE:

it's free!
You’ll also get periodic updates, reminders & access to career guidance programs sent to your inbox. We respect your privacy. You can unsubscribe via a click at any time.