Carine Research

Applying knowledge management in law firm alliances

Sep. 5th | Posted by 0 comments

Australian Law Librarian, (2003) Vol 11, No. 4, pp. 354-366

Strategic alliances are formed between law firms to gain from their business partner’s market, client or legal expertise in some way, yet very little research exists on how alliances use knowledge management to benefit from the knowledge held within the alliance.

The following paper is based on the results of study that I undertook in 2002 for the Master of Business (Information Technology) at RMIT. The study looked at how law firms in competitive strategic alliances use knowledge management within their alliance compared to the knowledge management approach adopted by the individual firms that form the alliance.

This study developed a framework to test two assumptions for comparing the knowledge management approach in individual law firms and law firm alliances. A literature review focussing on the past decade’s peer reviewed and business press articles on knowledge management and strategic alliances was used to identify the range of knowledge management tools used in firms and alliances. To compare their use, I undertook in-depth interviews with knowledge managers from two Australian law firms involved in law firm alliances.

The findings of this study have implications for knowledge management practitioners in law firms who are responsible for planning and implementing a knowledge management strategy to support their firm’s alliances, particularly in the area of the selection of appropriate knowledge management tools. The primary issues that need to addressed in this process include:

• understanding the aim and purpose of the alliance;

• identifying and focusing on the knowledge that is a priority for the alliance; and

• aligning the knowledge management tools to the aim and purpose of the alliance.

Heather received the 2003 Award for Excellence from RMIT University, School of Business, for the most outstanding minor thesis for her thesis on “applying knowledge management in law firm alliances.”

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