Heads of Knowledge Q&A (6) Fiona Parkinson

For our sixth interview we meet Fiona Parkinson who is Head of Knowledge Management at BLM.


  1. How did you end up as Head of Knowledge? Was there a key factor/turning point in your ending up in this role?

It was more of a gradual evolution.  My career has been focused on information and knowledge management, FionaPphotoalways with an emphasis on ensuring people have access to the knowledge they need to do their jobs successfully.  I’ve worked in energy, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, accountancy and professional services as well as in the legal sector.

The biggest change was in the 1990s when the emphasis on Knowledge Management as a business imperative allowed us the opportunity to take a more central role, making a difference across the whole organisation.

  1. What job did you envision having when you were young?

When I was a little girl, I wanted to run a cats’ home!

  1. If you could have any job in the world, with no limitations (salary, location, hours etc) what would you do?

I like the motivation and behavioural side of KM – what makes people collaborate and how can we build on that?  If I could combine that with more time travelling and experiencing different people and cultures, that would be perfect!

  1. Describe your firm in three words.

Expert, professional, customer-focused.

  1. What is the hardest thing about your role?

I suspect it’s the same in every KM role, especially when people are recording time by the hour; the lack of time people have to step out of their day to day work to contribute to seeking and sharing knowledge, to improve what we do.

  1. What is the best thing about your role?

The people in my team and in BLM generally.  They are some of most friendly, supportive and professional colleagues I’ve ever worked with.

  1. What is the biggest change that you’ve witnessed during your career in Knowledge?

The ability for end users to be able to access so much for themselves now whenever and wherever they are.  But along with that the expectation that we should have access to trusted, managed information automatically via a “google” type search.

  1. What three things are you focusing on for the next three years?

Ensuring our lawyers remain technically competent, innovation, better KM technology.

  1. What do you think is the most exciting new development coming in Knowledge work/KM?

The big area we are all watching is artificial intelligence.  We will see how this develops in 2017!

  1. What advice do you have for aspiring Heads of Knowledge?

Your role is so important!  In a law firm, knowledge is your product and you are at the forefront of maximising the benefits from it.  Keep continuing to focus on this and to communicate the value your lawyers and customers will see from the firm’s commitment to KM.


Thanks Fiona – and you are so right – KM is such an important support to fee earning and has great potential to maximise benefits.

If you want to read the next interview, follow the blog using the button at the top right or sign up for the busy-person’s summary.

If you are a Head of Knowledge, get in touch to share your story (or nominate your boss!).

About knowledge4lawyers

I am a lawyer and a Knowledge Management expert. Through The Knowledge Business I help law firms improve their efficiency and profitability through knowledge services - consultancy, training and implementation help.
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