A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

Commercial Information Management 101

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

by Karen Lee, founder, Legal Know-How

The modern day law practice has entered into a new age and applies equally to practitioners working in-house to those in private practice.  Thriving and surviving in today's legal landscape is determined by our ability to utilise and manage data and information as well as embrace and adopt technology. 

This has led to the emergence of commercial knowledge management as a new discipline.

What exactly is commercial information management?

Commercial information management refers to methodologies or software platforms that help an organisation or  firm search, review and manage commercial information they use in the process of delivering their core services (such as the provision of legal advice).  Commercial information is all around us – information derived from data from the ASIC registers, the PPS Register, AFSA’s National Personal Insolvency Index and Land Titles searches are all examples of commercial information.  

Data is just facts and figures.  Information is data with relevance and purpose.  What we really want is information, not just data.  Information, especially commercial information, that is well managed is useful, and can convey a trend, indicate a pattern, or tell a story.  Better still, we can derive knowledge that germinates from interpreted data and information.  And knowledge is the ultimate competitive advantage.

Three things you should know about commercial information management:

1. Conversion from data to information to knowledge is key

Data needs to be converted, first into information and subsequently into knowledge, otherwise its use is limited.  Commercial information management aids this conversion and deliver a real and measurable return on information.

2. Commercial information management is data agnostic

Data agnosticism refers to the ability of data to work with various systems.  The message here is that commercial information management does not need to be customised for a single system only.  In fact, it can be quite flexible.  

3. Commercial information management is linked to competitive advantage

The ability to generate useful commercial information (which impacts on the ability to create new knowledge), and properly manage that process is at the heart of an organisation’s competitive advantage.If we can have the ability to extract and analyse data which can potentially be converted into insights, and then present this knowledge in a format that enables decision makers within the our organisation or firm to act, and we can do this better than others in the market. This presents a real competitive advantage. 

Four benefits* commercial information management can deliver to a law practice:

1. Improved Discovery and Access

How? By providing lawyers with easy and transparent access to accurate and timely data and information.  Data and information that is easily discoverable can be shared and utilised for a variety of purposes, from conducting due diligence that involves multiple practice groups in a firm, to providing legal opinions in cross-border transactions involving legal teams working in different jurisdictions.  

2. Improved Integration and Accuracy

How? By collecting data once, ensuring its integrity and quality.  This is an incredibly powerful tool for risk management, as commercial information management helps to ensure a legal practice can confidently rely on  any reports and advices it produces based on data gathered and information derived.

3. Improved Decision-making

How?  By providing better information to support analysis, decision-making and risk identification. The best decisions are made when people understand the full picture. In a legal practice, professionals bring years of experience and intuition to the decision making process, drawing information from various sources, considering the context and extracting insights to make informed decisions. Commercial Information Management increases the quality of the information ‘input’, requiring less effort to process and organise complex information to draw meaningful conclusions more efficiently. 

4. Decreased Costs

How?  By all of the above!  Decreased costs is a direct outcome of improved efficiency by improved management while eliminating risk and waste.

*These four benefits have been derived based on Griffith University’s Information Management Framework.

Human intellectual capital + innovative technology = achieve your goals

It is worth mentioning here that there is an aspect of commercial information management that relates to human judgement as well as an aspect that relates to technology and science.  Both the use of judgement and technology and science provide and add value.  Embrace commercial information management and contribute strategically to your legal practice’s ultimate goals.

About our Guest Blogger

Karen Lee is the founder of Legal Know-How and legal industry adviser to Encompass, a leading commercial information management platform and ALPMA's 2014 Summit Live and On-Demand partner.

Readers interested in learning more about commercial information management can watch Karen's free on-demand webinar "Emerging Discipline of Commercial Information Management", now available from the ALPMA On-Demand Learning Centre.
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