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The effect of the knowledge management techniques in legal practice, aiding lawyers
and officials to organize, represent and manage knowledge
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Characteristics of legal knowledge

Law thinking is highly structured. It is structured in such a way that the knowledge needed to perform a legal task can be found and used more easily and be better available to the performers of legal tasks.

The lawyer and tacit knowledge

Law is written, sentences are written. These are documents of public domain. Public domain is explicit knowledge... information.

What a client requires from the law office is the lawyers' skills and experience, the integration of their practical, relevant, applied know-how. Knowing the law (company law, for instance) is not in itself sufficient to enable a lawyer to transfer property. The practical application of the law requires much more than tacit knowledge: it requires know-how. Law firms are, therefore, know-how businesses. The law firms competitive advantage is precisely the accumulation, distribution and ready availability of the collective know-how, the firm's knowledge: a combination of people, knowledge and experience, and that is what people look for in a law firm.

This know-how is made of knowledge services (transaction specific); knowledge about the client's social environment (business and/or family, history); geographical (the community in which the law firm operates). This know-how is valuable for clients.


Tacit knowledge (know-how) has the following characteristics:

you acquire it mostly by yourself;
it is practically useful;
it is about how to do things.

Therefore tacit knowledge is expertise, and a result of personal learning. It is a personal asset.

Applications of Knowledge Master (Knowledge representation and management) in law practice:
Case management and case strategy, case modeling;
Decision support systems;
Legal Information Systems;
Courtroom and jury support systems;
Online dispute settlement;
Sentencing support systems;
Document management;
Conflict management.

Knowledge Master's resources that make legal knowledge management possible:
  • Searching inside the knowledge base:
    • concepts, categories, relations
    • Interactive navigation of the knowledge base: semantic searching
    • Full text
    • Phonetic.
  • Internet search: create a cognitive visual interface for the web
  • Multiple relations to Internet
  • Automatic recognition of relevance.
Export/Import the knowledge base from/to many formats: formatted text (Word, rtf), structured text, flat text, html, XML, XTM (ISO/IEC 13250), image. Knowledge created with Knowledge Master can be reused in other applications.
Interactive creation of the knowledge base from text;
Paths in the knowledge base;
Direct access to the represented knowledge through questions and answers
Use templates to facilitate the start of standard diagrams.
Arrange  the knowledge bases in layers for ease of analysis and neatness.


Teaching and learning law contents through knowledge management

The structured nature of law and legal documents in general and the logic that handles legal reasoning, naturally proposes knowledge representation and management as a resource to teach law students to comprehend, analyze, and draw conclusions from information. Many standard techniques from knowledge practices can be used to deliver legal knowledge to students, like cause & effect and many other specialized diagrams. With the rise of the 'knowledge economy', knowledge management has become all the rage. In a law firm or organization, knowledge management is not a support function: it is the very essence of a law firm.

Knowledge Master
is already being used in legal information structuring support by ITTIG in Florence, Italy. ITTIG (Institute of Legal Information Theory and Techniques) belongs to the Italian National Research Council.
You may also see Project Management with knowledge management techniques and strategies

Excerpts from the book Knowledge Management in Education -II edition (in Spanish language), by Virgilio Hernandez Forte, published by Alfaomega Grupo Editor, Mexico, 2007.


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