And it's an altogether different matter to be an innovator in your business. Tom VanKirk, Buchanan Ingersoll's COO since 1985, qualifies on all three fronts.
VanKirk has been bringing innovations to the firm since he was elected to his post, all the while maintaining an active litigation practice counseling clients including PPG, Kennametal and Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel on trade regulation matters.
Office design may not be an activity associated with the legal profession, but VanKirk has introduced some leading edge concepts to Buchanan Ingersoll that have improved its operations and productivity. He moved the firm to employ nonlegal directors to manage departments and led efforts to reorganize support staff to allow them to work more efficiently.
He introduced videoconferecing to connect the firm's 12 offices, cutting travel costs and allowing shareholder meetings to be conducted by video. And he introduced technology in the courtroom as a method to improve communication of complicated material to jurors and assist litigators in the presentation of their cases.
VanKirk oversees the administrative departments at Buchanan Ingersoll, managing the firm's budget; helps develop its long-term strategic plan; deals with internal and external communications; and is closely involved with the development of associates.
He was a founding member of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, chaired the group and continues to serve on its board of directors. He serves on the council of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and is a board member of the Pennsylvanians for Effective Government. How to reach: Buchanan Ingersoll, www.bipc.com