Making the Most of Competitive Intelligence

On May 28, 2018, legal professionals from across the GTA gathered for a panel discussion by business development (BD) and competitive intelligence (CI) experts.

The result? An engaging session on how law firms are working with CI teams to implement strategies and build relationships that add value and drive business.

Below are some key takeaways.

Elements of Competitive Intelligence:

  • Financial analysis
    • Industry reports can assist tremendously in decision-making.
  • CRM database
    • A great tool in determining who you know, and more importantly, who you do not know.
  • Internal information
    • If a client’s billings increase in one area and decrease in another, this can provide insight into a shift in the client’s business objectives.
    • Use data to direct your focus to top clients and to stay current on what they are doing.
  • Your firm’s strategy
    • Understand it and keep it top of mind.

Success Stories of Creating Value

  • Proposal win rates for larger firms are a good barometer.
    • Use this data to link back to research provided by the CI team and share with your lawyers so they understand the value
  • Use CI to develop profiles of key individuals in pitches.
    • Research industry trends and use all this data to form the base of the pitch.
  • Free up lawyers’ time by using data to update boiler plate content in pitches and proposals.
  • Rely on your CI professionals as major players in the firm’s business development initiatives. In the past they performed tasks ad hoc, but now can be more integrated in the BD team.
  • Use data to build trust and relationships with partners
    • Give lawyers ideas for thought leadership and content marketing pieces.
  • Turn a cost centre into a revenue generator by using research to develop winning proposals.
  • Prepare lawyers for pitches and proposals by providing list of legal issues facing client or industry.

How to Track Successes

  • Track time spent on proposals and correlate to the number of wins / losses. Then share this information with lawyers.
  • Schedule feedback sessions with lawyers to review lessons learned. This will build trust, strengthen relationships, and demonstrate how your work helps drive business.
  • Review new client reports and track back to your requests and what you have worked on.

Relationship between Business Development and Competitive Intelligence

  • BD professionals should share business plans with the CI team.
  • Invite CI team to practice group meetings.
  • CI team should provide industry data to BD team on a regular basis.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Should CI Professionals be Worried?

  • AI is focused on the practitioner’s side (how to make life easier for the lawyer) and not on research, so all is good for now.
  • Currently, requests are so specific they are simply not suitable for AI.
  • As tools improve to support efficiency, there will be a shift in the research-analysis ratio from the current 80/20 to 50/50. As time spent in research increases, the value of CI will also grow.

For additional reading, check out the report prepared by Acritas entitled The Evolution of Competitive Intelligence in Law Firms



Erik Brea, Manager, Business Intelligence, Borden Ladner Gervais

Lindsey Bombardier, Director, Business Development Practice Group, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Robert Keshen, Research Specialist, Competitive and Legal Intelligence, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Peter Wismath, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP Moderator:

Nathifa Williams, Reference Librarian, Fasken



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