Spotlight on David Smith

NameDavid Smith
Role / Job TitleHead of Information Services
FirmHill Dickinson LLP

Length of time in industry30 years (... I remember WordStar and Wang
What do you like about your role?Variety and the people I work with!

Days are rarely the same and I never get the chance to be bored. I've been lucky to be involved in all sorts of projects and initiatives outside my direct remit, and that holistic approach to getting things done - working with colleagues who have a whole range of skills and experience - is fascinating and stimulating. I'm still learning stuff even at this stage in my career.

I suppose I'm a frustrated teacher - I love problem solving, helping people find answers, and generally mucking in to make things better.
What is challenging within your role?People - budgets - time!
People - some of them - but they're mostly a positive challenge.
Budgets and time because they can be constraining.
... and I'm still trying to keep up with technology!
What advice would you give someone starting out?Keep learning!
Learn from your colleagues, from situations, and gain a breadth of experience. Listen, absorb, and get involved. You never know when those nuggets of knowledge will be useful. Keep an open mind and seize opportunities.

Above all - be honest - to yourself and others. People will always appreciate the truth over fudging and mis-information. But develop your diplomacy skills as the truth in its raw form can sometimes be unpalatable.
If you weren't working in legal, what do you think you'd be doing?I'm a music graduate - and music has always been a constant pleasure - whether playing, singing or simply listening...

But what would I really like to do...?
....motorbike on long empty roads in good weather
....gardening - and then a gin and tonic on the patio (classic gin flavoured gin, and tonic flavoured tonic please - none of that trendy stuff)
Tell us about an "average" day, or if every day is different tell us about a recent dayNo day is average or normal - thats the fun.
But outside 'business as usual' I'm deeply involved in a couple of projects which tick all sorts of boxes for me.

The first is our 'Making life easier...' initiative - we're going back to basics with a phased holistic approach to ensuring that everyone understands and can use technology appropriate to their role. There are lots of strands to this, but we're following LTC4, and we've implemented UKDEG standard styles and DocXtools as part of a total revamp of our Word environment.

The second is the next phase of our paperlite initiative - we've been working for some time to reduce printing, encourage e-files etc and have seen real progress. This year we have fully embraced 'NO ARCHIVING'!! This is a huge ask for a law firm - to relinquish paper files. Physical working files are OK if people really need them - but they are only temporary. The DMS is the file 'of record' and we no longer send or return physical files to archive. There are all sorts of other benefits that we've been preaching about too - and our lawyers are starting to realise it - much easier to manage information security risks, file integrity has improved, and actively supports and fosters collaboration. And our physical archive has decreased 30% in just 6 months!