Knowledge Management and the Smarter Lawyer

March 1, 2004

Although there is no end to the amount of articles and seminars aimed at the subject, Gretta Rusanow’s book is one of the first published texts that specifically and accurately address knowledge management from the position of the legal industry.

Within her book, Rusanow’s core messages are that the benefits and value of knowledge management are multiplied for those firms who align their internal knowledge management activities with the strategic goals and objectives of the firm as an entity, and that the value of knowledge management can and should be quantified and demonstrated in order for the firm to mature as a knowledge environment.

Although the former is a pre-existing theory that is widely recognized as not being exclusive to knowledge management but essential to all major initiatives that are undertaken by the firm, Rusanow provides in-depth and practical examples that are easily identifiable in their alignment with the legal environment. It is in this detail that Rusanow achieves levitation above pure theory and unsubstantiated conceptualisations offered by others who may be less experienced.

However, Knowledge Management for the Smarter Lawyer is not designed to provide enlightenment. It is designed to provide a thorough and well structured roadmap through the maze of knowledge management within a law firm or legal department.

The author does not supply the magic catch-all solution to solving the knowledge management dilemma – nor does she purport to, as Rusanow understands the subject matter well enough to know that it is indeed not magical at all. In addition, she does not qualify the knowledge management dilemma in a definitive statement; again, she understands that the dilemma is different for everyone.

What Rusanow does do is to outline and address (in a step-by-step format), each ‘critical element’ of knowledge management for the reader. Rusanow identifies these elements as scope, organisation, culture, and the technology associated with knowledge management.

In addition to stepping through the detail within each of these primary elements, Rusanow provides useful scenarios, examples, and recommendations, for each of the four primary elements. This in turn enables the reader confidently to identify with the issues that they may already have subconsciously identified as inhibitors to their own effective management of knowledge. Rusanow’s objective is to empower the reader to qualify the value of knowledge management in their own environment by utilising the examples and recommendations she provides.

Knowledge Management for the Smarter Lawyer is an excellent tool for those who want to recognize, validate, and/or categorise the knowledge management challenges within their own legal environment, and also for those who want to take qualified actions towards improving their management of knowledge related issues.

The book is published by American Lawyer Media and is priced at $49.95 on (485pp: ISBN 1588521168)