Legal Knowledge Includes Databases for Proskauer Attorney

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By Gayle Cinquegrani

Law school graduates acquire a great deal of knowledge, but few earn the official designation of knowledge management lawyer. Kristin Rozic has had that job title for almost three years at Proskauer Rose’s labor and employment department in Newark, N.J.

“I’m responsible for developing and implementing the department’s knowledge management strategy,” Rozic told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 27. “I work with the attorneys in the department and various practice groups to come up with ways to capture and store department models, templates, research, resources and work product,” she said. “I want this information at their fingertips.”

Proskauer’s labor and employment department has about 25 practice groups, and Rozic has designed knowledge management portals for 10 of them. The contents of each portal vary. For the litigation and arbitration group, for example, the portal could be broken down by different courts and different research topics, including model forms, document templates, and finished research.

“Attorneys do leave, but they produce valuable work while they’re here,” Rozic said. “You don’t want to have to rely on their filing system to find it.” Her job is to figure out how to “take this great work product that we have” and make it “easily available to our attorneys.”

Experience in Employment Law Is Key

“I’m not an IT person by training,” Rozic said. When the department created the knowledge management lawyer job, “they weren’t looking for an IT person, they were looking for somebody who had practiced in this department.” Rozic spent 13 years as a lawyer in the labor and employment department, so “I’m very entrenched,” she said. When she switched roles, she knew what “the attorneys need to make this more efficient and cost-effective for clients.”

A large part of her job entails “knowing what the attorneys are working on” and “retrieving it” for use by other attorneys in the department who will be able to find it on the portal, Rozic said.

“An IT person wouldn’t know that an order to show cause would be a valuable document for knowledge management” unless the attorney who drafted it told the person so, she said. By contrast, Rozic relies on her legal experience to know which documents “would be valuable for knowledge management to gather.”

“You need to be very organized” to do the knowledge management job, Rozic said. “This role suits my personality very well.” She doesn’t plan to resume practicing law because “knowledge management is the wave of the future.”

Better Service for Clients

“The core of knowledge management is giving clients better service,” Rozic said. “Clients are always looking for ways their lawyers can be cost-effective,” and “part of my job is looking at how we can drive down the costs.” With the knowledge sharing fostered by knowledge management, a client can “contact one lawyer and have the collective knowledge of our department at that lawyer’s fingertips,” she said.

Rozic updates the portals, removing stale information and deciding whether to add new documents or research to a portal. When an area such as paid leave law is undergoing rapid change, she determines whether to draft new content for the portal. She also maintains databases on experts the department has used and on mediators and arbitrators before whom the firm has appeared.

In addition, she helps the firm assess technology tools as they come on the market, weighing in with the firm’s library and information technology units about new products. In some cases, she may suggest that lawyers from her department try out a product before the firm makes a purchasing decision.

“This job really does allow me freedom and creativity” to come up with ideas on what information will help the firm’s labor and employment lawyers do their job better and faster, Rozic said. “To make knowledge management work, you have to have a culture or a belief that knowledge management is useful to the department.”

Lawyers Support Knowledge Management

Proskauer’s labor and employment attorneys “are really supportive of my role,” Rozic said. “All our incoming attorneys get training on our knowledge management availability in the department.”

The corporate and litigation departments at Proskauer also have knowledge management lawyers. They meet regularly with each other and with their supervisor, the firm’s knowledge management officer. Rozic also belongs to a network of knowledge management lawyers in New York.

Rozic is a member of Bloomberg Law’s Technology and Innovation Board. The board’s goal is to provide feedback that will enable Bloomberg Law to create products and workflow tools for labor and employment lawyers.

Rozic found her way to the legal profession indirectly, through her economics major at the University of Virginia. She took “two economics courses that were taught by law professors because they fit my schedule nicely,” she said. “They wound up being very intriguing to me.” She decided to “try law school” at Seton Hall University, where she took labor and employment classes because “a lot of the examples” in the economics classes had concerned labor and employment issues. “Many types of law are very dry,” but labor and employment “always has a story involved,” she said.

In her free time, Rozic takes her 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter to visit water parks. She also relaxes by reading mystery novels.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gayle Cinquegrani in Washington at gcinquegrani@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tony Harris at tharris@bna.com

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