HLSVia the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau 

The student-run Board of Directors at HLAB recently approved the addition of a new Knowledge, Innovation, and Technology (KIT) Director to the Board, beginning in 2015. The creation of the new position was the result of a semester-long deliberation among students and clinical instructors on how to better manage information at the Bureau. The existing clinical technology – Remote Clinics and Time Matters – had proven inadequate as a means of organizing and sharing internal knowledge across generations of Bureau students. Board members Rina Thomas ’15 (Communications Director) and Nick Pastan ’15 (Training Director) collaborated on a plan to fill this gap at the Bureau.

“Before today, at the Bureau, knowledge management consisted of going into the computer lab and asking whether someone in there had drafted a particular kind of motion,” said Nick. “The answer you received depended entirely on which students and CIs were in the building at the moment.”

“I had spent my last few summers in a variety of work settings: a public defenders’ office, a corporate law firm, and a management consulting firm. They all had systems for tracking what individuals learned over time so that the entire organization could benefit,” said Rina. “I thought the Bureau, which loses and gains a new class of students each year, would really benefit if we created our own internal system.”

Through extensive discussion, the Bureau identified two near-term priorities: 1) assembling exemplary motions, agreements, and other documents and 2) creating consolidated outlines for the substantive areas of law practiced at the Bureau. A dedicated group of Bureau students will spend this upcoming J-term creating this content and uploading it to a new internal Bureau wiki, hosted on the Harvard Confluence platform.

Recognizing that online content can quickly grow stale, the Board approved the creation of a KIT Director who will manage the Bureau’s process of updating and developing the wiki over time. The KIT Director will also serve as the point person to advocate for the Bureau’s technology needs and to handle special projects related to innovation in the delivery of legal services.

“With the creation of this new position, we have made a commitment as an organization to preserve and build upon what we’ve learned and to stay on top of technological changes which can help us to better serve our clients,” said Nick.

“Building a wiki is just a first step,” said Rina, “I’m excited to see what shape the Bureau’s knowledge and innovation efforts take in the future.”