Competitive Intelligence: Improving Law Firm Strategy and Decision-Making

Use competitive intelligence as a critical tool to improve performance, drive revenue and gain competitive advantage

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‘Competitive intelligence tends to enter an industry when competition amongst its players grows fiercer.’
Like it or not , more and more law firms are using competitive intelligence (CI) as a critical tool to improve performance, drive revenue and gain advantage over your firm. So what can CI do for you?

Managing Partner's report on Competitive Intelligence: Improving Law Firm Strategy and Decision-Making is written specifically to help you formalise your approach to competitive intelligence (CI) in the legal sector. It examines in-depth how to gather valuable information and turn it into actionable intelligence in the legal environment while avoiding the legal and ethical pitfalls.

From understanding the basics of CI to assessing the value of a variety of information sources and looking at the best applications for each, this critical report acts as a comprehensive guide to implementing a successful CI strategy at your firm.

The report analyses Porter’s Five Forces model, explores the impact of legal and ethical regulations and details the steps that can be taken to ensure sound practices are followed.Topics covered:

  • An overview of CI as it is applied in current legal profession;
  • The common CI challenges and how to overcome them; 
  • Ethical considerations that must be satisfied when developing or using CI; 
  • Developing more useful intelligence for clients (law firm partners); 
  • Information gathering—the types and sources of information available to CI practitioners; 
  • Organizing and preparing intelligence to make analysis easier and more revelatory; 
  • The reliability of information and ethical considerations related to information collected from social media and human sources; 
  • Ensuring analysis is correctly converted into intelligence; 
  • Effectively disseminating intelligence to decision makers; 
  • Improving CI processes and their influence on a firm’s decision-making processes; 
  • The evolution of law firm CI structures, functions, and staffing models; 
  • Imminent expansion areas for law firm CI; 
  • Utilizing CI to improve firm-wide and practice/industry group strategies; 
  • Collaboration between CI and business intelligence (BI) units; 
  • Identifying sources and uses of human intelligence; and 
  • The ethical techniques firms should use to elicit intelligence.

Real-life, practical case studies, insights and contributions from a wide range of high-profile firms and respected industry experts including leading strategy consultant Andrew Hedley are featured throughout the report.
You will also find a vital introduction to scenario planning and how to use this popular CI tool to build the dynamic, flexible plans now required in a rapidly changing global environment.
Whether your firm already has informal CI in-house capabilities and wants to upgrade them, wishes to engage the services of external CI consultants or hopes to learn how to utilise its existing CI resources to become more competitive, this report is essential reading for you.


Chapter 1: Competitive intelligence and the CI cycle

Chapter 2: Phase 1 – Direction and planning

Chapter 3: Phase 2 – Information gathering and organisation

Chapter 4: Phase 3 – Analysis, synthesis and distillation

Chapter 5: Phase 4 – Dissemination, feedback and improvement

Chapter 6: Attributes peculiar to the legal industry and law firms

Chapter 7: Law firm CI structures, functions and staffing

Chapter 8: Typical law firm key intelligence topics and CI assignments

Chapter 9: The role of CI in shaping strategy

Chapter 10: Human intelligence and elicitation techniques

Chapter 11: Scenario planning in law firms

Please check our Executive Summary


Ann Lee Gibson
Dr Ann Lee Gibson  advises law firms on projects and issues surrounding new business development and competitive intelligence. She trains and coaches lawyers and business development professionals in the areas of high-stakes competitions, sales presentations and competitive intelligence, and helps firms develop CI and proposal systems. Since Ann began her consulting practice, she has helped law firms compete for and win more than US$600m in new business. As the chief of two US law firms’ marketing and business development functions – at Nossaman and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – she worked with firm leaders and lawyers to identify and respond to new business opportunities. She and the groups she led developed winning proposals for use with prospects and planned and coached lawyers’ sales presentations. Beginning in the early 1990s, she pioneered law firm client satisfaction feedback programmes. Ann has authored scores of published articles on strategic and competitive intelligence, new business competitions and the changing legal marketplace. Her writings have been published in the National Law Journal, Strategies, California Daily Journal and the American Bar Association’s Law Practice. She and her work in competitive intelligence have been profiled in the ABA Journal. She speaks regularly at law firm retreats and legal industry conferences, including those of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA), the Marketing Partner Forum, the CMO Forum and the Annual Law Firm Competitive Intelligence Forum. She facilitates conversations among corporate general counsel and law firm management who gather to discuss issues of importance. She earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in educational research and programme evaluation and a B.S. in chemistry from Mississippi College. In 2006, she was inducted as a Fellow into the College of Law Practice Management, which recognises distinguished law practice management professionals. In April 2009, she was also inducted into LMA’s Hall of Fame. This lifetime achievement award honours individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the legal marketing industry and represents the highest levels of experience and leadership in legal marketing. Dr Gibson's work is detailed at her website. She blogs on law firm competitive intelligence issues, and be contacted via email.

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