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Pilot proves software's potential

User stories form the knowledge front

The specifics of how KM technology can help law firms prepare for legal battle was illustrated during a recent pilot project at the law firm Dickstein Shapiro Morin and Oshinsky. Information mining tool West km—developed by West , a division of The Thomas Corporation—was being tested at the law firm to see its ability to enhance legal research accuracy and efficiency.

West km extends West's indexing structure to private information collections behind a firm's firewall. It is said to leverage a firm's existing technology platform by integrating with its document management system, providing new functionality to increase the value of work product repositories. For example, when a researcher finds a case, statute or administrative decision on Westlaw (the company's online legal research service) that is also cited in firm documents, the firm's icon is automatically displayed within the case header and the Westlaw citation list. The researcher can click the icon to review the list of internal documents, and can retrieve a copy of any of the internal documents from the firm's document management system.

According to Hollye R. Mann, a research management attorney at Dickstein., "West km led me directly to an important unpublished decision that was written by the same judge who was involved in our case, and it saved one of our attorneys significant time while simultaneously alerting him to a new mistake."

Mann goes on to explain, "In this particular case, the client had considered sharing documents while relying on the continued protection of those documents under a safeguard that is commonly referred to as the 'joint defense doctrine.' In a majority of jurisdictions, these documents would be protected under that doctrine. In the jurisdiction where the case was being litigated, however, the court, in an unpublished decision, adopted a unique approach to this issue that would leave these documents completely unprotected."

When Mann researched the issue, West km brought her to a memo authored by a Dickstein attorney that addressed the issue and cited the unpublished decision. Armed with the information, the attorney advised the client not to turn over the documents, and thus avoided a potentially costly mistake.

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