For our third Head of Knowledge Q&A we meet Tim Dale, Head of Knowledge at Pinsent Masons. Tim has only recently become a Head of Knowledge, so has an interestingly different perspective to our previous interviewees.
1. How did you end up as Head of Knowledge? Was there a key factor/turning point in your ending up in this role?
I’ve only recently become our Head of Knowledge. I worked as a Property lawyer for over a decade but the imminent arrival of my second son prompted me to think about work/life balance and I moved into a PSL role. A few years into that role I ended up leading a team of 8 Practice Development Lawyers here at Pinsent Masons. The HoK role came up here and I liked the sound of a new challenge – the opportunities don’t come around very often so I seized it.
2. What job did you envision having when you were young?
I loved physics at school and my University application form suggested a very clear focus: four applications to do laser engineering with the fifth slot being filled merely because there was space on the form: to do law. A disappointing experience of physics in my final year at school and I’d rather painted myself into a corner. I don’t regret it.
3. If you could have any job in the world, with no limitations (salary, location, hours etc) what would you do?
Professional sportsman, if only I had the talent. Exercise has always brought a smile to my face. I love freediving, I’m a member of my local cycling club, I recently represented Great Britain at the underwater hockey world championships in South Africa. If only I could do it for a living!
4. Describe your firm in three words.
Going places fast.
5. What is the hardest thing about your role?
Just now, it’s the learning curve. I’ve come from a PDL role within a practice group to having to know much more about our business as a whole. I now need to know our Research team’s strategy, the challenges for our Library team, our knowledge strategy for Australia and so much more. I need to be a nomadic sponge (there’s a surreal picture) getting around our business, learning.
6. What is the best thing about your role?
Working with hugely talented people and having the opportunity to shape the way we operate.
7. What is the biggest change that you’ve witnessed during your career in Knowledge?
The shift away from an internally-focused knowledge lawyer to an externally-focused role. In a relatively short period knowledge lawyers are no longer seen as an in-house function but have far greater visibility with clients and in the market generally. I think that’s a great thing – it enhances our value.
8. What three things are you focusing on for the next three years?
Technical training, which seems a very traditional thing to say given the huge impact technology and innovation is having, but it’s precisely because of that. As technology takes away the need for some of the low-level, process-driven work our lawyers need to be technically and commercially brilliant. That’s where they can make a difference.
Client value-adds and our SmartDelivery tools make up the other two.
9. What do you think is the most exciting new development coming in Knowledge work/KM?
I think true artificial intelligence in law (software that learns, rather than simply data extraction) is finally here. That’s both an opportunity and a threat and it’s likely to change the way lawyers and KM people work.
10. What advice do you have for aspiring Heads of Knowledge?
I’m a matter of months into this role so it’s probably too early for me to offer advice! Ask me again in a few years.
Thanks Tim. I love the idea of being a “nomadic sponge”!
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