Best Practices for Managing Legal Intellectual Property

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TitleBest Practices for Managing Legal Intellectual Property
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29 April 2019
Phil Ayton

 

For law firms, intellectual property is everything. Every facet of a firm’s interaction with a client relies on some form of specialist knowledge - whether it’s legal, relationship, process or organisational knowledge. By nature of the business, law firms are defined by their authoritative knowledge and expertise. Therefore, you want to be able to effectively develop, manage and leverage your firm’s IP in a way that drives additional value and supports sustainable growth. This starts by designing, building and managing a better knowledge library.

Chances are, your firm’s knowledge library is the first stop for lawyers looking for know-how, document templates and other matter-related knowledge. However, oftentimes, that crucial information is difficult to find, out-of-date or just plain inaccurate. As the gateway to the organisation’s IP, your firm’s knowledge library should be a place where lawyers can quickly find relevant information to start drafting contracts and other documents.

To build a strong knowledge library and effectively manage your firm’s IP, it’s crucial to consider three key aspects: discoverability, adaptability, and quality.

Discoverability

First and foremost, the firm’s IP must be discoverable. Lawyers don’t want to waste time searching and browsing; they just want to find information quickly. To simplify information discovery, you’ll need to carefully plan how you’ll structure and organise your library’s content. The type of content you have, as well as the structure of your firm, should give you a good idea of how to most effectively organise your content.

When it comes to making know-how easily accessible, consider these best practices:

  • Create categories: Consider using practice-based taxonomies to enable lawyers to quickly browse, search and filter by practice categories
  • Enable easy searching: Allow lawyers to search for information using full-text and metadata searching using keywords, phrases and Boolean search
  • Define firm-based metadata: Assign metadata that matches your firm, such as knowledge type, review data, practices, and other firm-relevant information
  • Provide context: Offer lawyers additional context around a document by including preview capabilities, as well as ratings and comments

Adaptability

Lawyers mostly use knowledge libraries to access and create various transactional legal documents. These documents then go through a negotiation phase, where both parties will create various versions before the final document is archived into the DMS. However, one area where most IP management processes break down is feeding back changes into the knowledge library.

As new situations arise, new options are added as part of the transactional document. This could be a new variant, legal change or opportunity. Oftentimes, these changes are fed back into the knowledge library as a new variant. This can then create an overabundance of master templates, making it difficult for lawyers to know which one to use.

A more efficient way to manage the firm’s IP is to adapt to the ongoing changes and rationalise which changes to accept or reject. Some best practices include:

  • Reduce the number of master templates: Aim to have one master template per transaction to drive consistency and quality
  • Provide online guidance: Offer optional text, clauses and classifications to effectively guide lawyers on which content needs to be added to their document

Quality

Last, but not least, is ensuring the quality of your IP. Maintaining the quality of your firm’s IP requires continual monitoring and consistent reviewing. Fortunately, automated quality workflows make it easy to monitor content by enabling quality control gatekeepers to review, reject and accept know-how submissions and changes.

When it comes to ensuring the quality of your IP, follow these best practices:

  • Implement quality workflows: Create an automated quality workflow to automatically route changes to responsible parties for review
  • Create quality notifications: Flag clauses and templates for review at specific intervals

 

If you’re interested in learning more about better managing your internal know-how, be sure to check out our on-demand webinar, co-hosted with Lexology, titled From Library to Contract: Automating the Contract Lifecycle.

SummaryTo build a strong knowledge library and effectively manage your firm’s IP, it’s crucial to consider three key aspects: discoverability, adaptability, and quality.
Resource TypeBlog
CategoryKnowledge Management

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