Tom Collins’ blog Knowledge Aforethought consistently has great content on knowledge management, especially on personal KM, one of my favorite topics. His post today, Lawyer’s Role on Information Design Teams is a good example of the insights I’ve found on his blog.
Tom points out the growing use of digital presentation tools by lawyers and the very common “hands-off” approach of turning the creation of visuals and contents to the “experts.”
In some firms, the “experts” may well be IT staff, marketing people or paralegals, many of whom are quite talented.
HOWEVER, as Tom points out, there are problems with this approach, both conceptual and practical. The classic approach to content design and presentation uses a four-person team: a multimedia person, a designer, a content subject expert, and producer.
When, for example, I prepare a PowerPoint presentation myself, I take on all four roles, even though I’m strongest as a content subject expert and anywhere from “pretty good” to “probably adequate” on the other three roles (ahem, depending on whom you ask). My results usually work out OK because of my involvement in the content subject expert role.
When a lawyer turfs the presentation over to the graphics experts, there is no content subject expert. The odds of having an effective presentation drop dramatically, even if the presentation looks great.
Tom has several points. First, that it is essential for lawyers to participate as part of the team. Second, given that many lawyers cannot afford a four member team, lawyers must get, maintain and improve the other technical skills and expertise other members of such a team would have provided. Third, modern presentation skills have become as important a requirement for lawyers as writing and speaking skills.
Tom’s post is short, but very important. I highly recommend it.
There’s an article to be written, perhaps by me, about the flip side of this article that can be written with the same title. That is, there are roles that lawyers can play as part of creative teams with respect to intellectual property and licensing issues, privacy, confidentiality and other legal issues, and exercise of the professional judgment that all good lawyers have.