Problem 4 - Our lawyers can't easily find the firm expert on a particular legal issue

4. Problem: Our lawyers can't easily find the firm expert on a particular legal issue.

Response: Establish an expertise database.

Discussion:

A list of broad subjects known to partners and senior associates and made available on the firm's intranet is a simple start. A more granular list would be far more useful, though.

If the after-matter review meetings described in Problem 3 are conducted, the necessary information will be collected. Detailed lawyer expertise can be obtained by linking their names to the legal issues arising in the matter. The linking and retrieval can be accomplished by the same software that runs the matters and experience database.

Another method for finding internal expertise is to use specialized software to determine those lawyers who billed more than a specified number of hours to a matter for which documents mentioning the legal issue were prepared. This combines a document search function with firm time entry system information. This approach may work for firms with small lawyer teams on their matters, assuming the significant expenditure for the specialized software is made.

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Before founding KM/JD Consulting LLC, Jack practiced law in New York for 30 years as a partner of pre-eminent AmLaw 20 firm Sullivan & Cromwell.

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