No doubt, allowing lawyers and other contributors to law firm knowledge management databases via intranets and other techniques to “brand” their contributions by having their names attached is a powerful motivation technique. However, there are times when its complete opposite, anonymity, has greater power.

Some of your best lawyers may have great material, but be too cautious to post something they don’t have time to vet thoroughly. Maintaining an area of your intranet for anonymous contributions can make these lawyers more likely to contribute. It will also encourage those who fear that their supervisors may resent any time they spend contributing to a group effort instead of concentrating solely on tasks more likely to improve the supervisor’s next performance appraisal.

It’s true that anonymous information tends to be less reliable, but this need not be a showstopper. Many times lawyers just need a lead, a tip about a legal theory that would not otherwise occur to them. Once they learn about an idea, they can usually can confirm or refute it.

Good lawyers verify the most important information they use. Even authors of respected treatises can err. The fact that a source is anonymous merely serves as a reminder to do the vetting I would usually do with any other critical piece of information.