A&O focuses on "staying ahead'

ALLEN & Overy has appointed a new IT director and a partner in charge of knowledge management in the second major shake-up of its back office in less than six months.

Under the changes – which bring to a speedy close an experiment to job-share the firm's IT director post – Nick Taylor-Delahoy, IT manager at management consultants McKinsey & Co, will join the firm in July as head of IT, while existing banking department head Philip Wood will take charge of knowledge management and legal education.

Taylor-Delahoy will take over from senior technology managers, Steve Roberts and Duncan Scott, who have been jointly running the IT department following last year's departure of IT director John Rogers to Herbert Smith.

A&O managing partner John Rink denied the job sharing scheme – announced by the firm in February – had been a failure and put Taylor-Delahoy's appointment down to the fact that "a man of exceptional talent became available".

He said the appointment, along with Wood's, showed the firm's commitment to "staying ahead" in IT and education, both of which would be "of growing importance in the next century" to the firm.

Under the job sharing arrangement, Roberts and Scott, who each headed two departments, reported jointly to the business services director Rodney Barker, who sits on the firm's management board.

Rink said the pair's roles would change only slightly but that Taylor-Delahoy would be in overall charge of IT and would report to Barker.

Wood will continue to head the banking department and act as visiting professor at The College of Law, London.

Wood said he aimed to "co-ordinate and marshall" information throughout the firm, and would improve the firm's Intranet system to which every fee earner at the firm had access. He said: "The electronic revolution has produced an avalanche of information and the only way to cope with this is through organisation of that information."

Wood added that about 30 per cent of lawyers at the firm work abroad and therefore continuing education and access to knowledge was vital to them.