The profile of legal Knowledge Management functions in Asia is changing. Janders Dean’s 2017 annual research project in this area shows that the industry has been highly responsive to some trends, while potentially courting new risks.
However, at a firm-wide level, Asia is not perceived to have the same strategic importance as it had previously. At the same time, there is a perception of a disconnect between Knowledge Management strategy at a global or firmwide level, and the voice of the Asia-based Knowledge Management function. This may pose a risk of future disengagement.
Knowledge Management functions have succeeded in making a little more room among their traditional content and infrastructure-based activities for more strategic involvement. In 2017 we’ve seen a greater emphasis on client-facing activities and involvement in innovation and transformative projects. The people factor continues to be a critical, though perhaps under-recognised, aspect of the Knowledge Management function, with Knowledge Management workers devoting time to interpersonal knowledge transfer, staff coaching and training.
Currently, the gap between Asia-based Knowledge Management functions and firmwide strategy suggests untapped potential. Asia-based Knowledge Management functions can offer a diversity of insights and problem-solving based on deep experience with Asia-based practices and clients.
Janders Dean surveyed a cross-section of senior Asia-based Knowledge Management and legal professionals at global, international and regional firms regarding Knowledge Managementoperational focus, strategy and future priorities. Respondents from large law firm Knowledge Management functions across Hong Kong, Singapore and China completed the survey anonymously from August to early September 2017. Most respondents were Professional Support Lawyers or held other senior positions, including Regional and Office Head of Knowledge. This year, there was an increase in project managers responding to the survey.
Interestingly, there was an increase in firms reporting no dedicated staff in Asia (from 4% in 2016 to 7% in 2017). At the same time, numbers of staff located in several parts of Asia appeared to contract – Hong Kong, Singapore, Mainland China, Japan, India and Korea. This may reflect a difference in the footprint of firms completing the survey, or it could, together with the increase in no dedicated staff, reflect a winding back of KM resourcing in the region.
That said, 37% of respondents specified that their firms employed teams of more than 5 Professional Support Lawyers (PSLs) across Asia – an increase from 22% in 2016.
Our thanks go to Thomson Reuters Practical Law for assisting with our annual survey, and for the support and sponsorship of this important industry initiative.
For a full version of the report, please contact Janders Dean’s APAC Director and Legal Knowledge Management thought leader – Stephanie Abbott via email here or at email@example.com