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In order to serve the internal needs of a growing firm, Reed Smith said yesterday it expanded its management structure to include two senior-level executives in charge of staff and knowledge. The firm named Nicola “Nicky” Dingemans as its first global chief people officer and Tom Baldwin as its chief knowledge officer. They will be based in New York and Los Angeles, respectively. The goal is for Dingemans and Baldwin to provide leadership in the personnel and knowledge-management operations across the firm’s 23 offices. Dingemans will manage the 3,500-person work force, which includes the firm’s more than 1,500 attorneys. Baldwin will develop a multiyear strategy to determine and implement the best ways the firm can capture and share information across its offices. Dingemans came to the firm from Booz Allen Hamilton where she had been since 1987. She most recently served as the global people services director for the global commercial/integrated business section of the company. Baldwin was the chief knowledge officer at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in Los Angeles, where he implemented Microsoft SharePoint 2007 and Windows Workflow Foundation and Enterprise Search. He also replaced the firm’s newsletters with blogs and has his own blog, Knowledgeline. Altman Weil consultant James S. Wilber said Reed Smith’s management additions may not be common under those exact titles, but they make a lot of sense for a firm of that size. “What’s more important to a law firm than its knowledge base and know-how and its professionals?” Wilber said. One of the most difficult aspects of running a professional-services firm is making the staff aware of the internal knowledge their colleagues already have, he said. Knowledge managers by a number of titles have been at the forefront of large law firm trends for the past few years, Wilber said. By creating a global chief people officer, Wilber said Reed Smith is showing it’s placing emphasis on the training and mentoring of its people. In such a competitive market for talent, that is a smart thing to do, he said. Dingemans said the firm made a specific choice not to give her a chief of human resources title because her role will include more than that. She said Reed Smith is very relationship-driven and her role is “very much a people position.” With the firm’s growth over the past few years across several continents, it is in operation pretty much 24/7. The firm needed a “people strategy” to cover more than just recruiting or salary, she said, but also training, diversity and mentoring programs, for example. The legal profession, Dingemans said, has really had to “step up” in terms of managing those services in a global law firm. She said her experience creating similar programs at Booz Allen – a consulting firm that has won several awards for its internal practices – would translate well in the law firm world. Having been a consultant at Booz Allen before moving into the people-management operations, Dingemans said she understands the needs of professional-services firms. “I’m bringing over real best practices” that are on the cutting-edge, she said. Baldwin said his challenge is to provide the right information at the right time to the firm’s attorneys, whether that is internal information on accounting or external news feeds. “My goal is to help the firm to continue to drive innovation from a technological perspective,” he said. While a lot of the pieces are already in place, Baldwin said Reed Smith is committed to investing in its knowledge management programs through the use of new technology. The role of chief knowledge officer, or something similar by a different title, is not common among the country’s largest firms. Baldwin said maybe about 15 of the AmLaw 100 firms have a “full-blown knowledge- management program” in which a person is dedicated in-house to handling the function. Many others, he said, have purchased products to help with knowledge-management, but haven’t created a chief knowledge officer position. Reed Smith Chairman Gregory B. Jordan said both Dingemans and Baldwin were “critical hires” at this point in the firm’s history given its size and direction. Both are nonlawyers who will work closely with the firm’s executive management committee. Dingemans will report directly to Chief Operating Officer Gary A. Sokulski and Firmwide Director of Legal Personnel Eugene Tillman. Baldwin will report directly to Sokulski. Jordan said Reed Smith has gone completely to hiring trained, senior executives to fill these types of roles rather than relying on partners to handle them.

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