October 7, 2015
Last week, law firm competitive intelligence professionals gathered in New York City. It was clear there were some who had been in this industry for their entire career, some who have experience but will certainly see more growth, and some who have just recently been introduced. But all seemed to agree that competitive intelligence within law firms is here to stay.
The opening presenter, Zena Applebaum, offered her industry insight as she has seen CI evolve. She proposed that Client Intelligence is the new CI, and others in the room certainly agreed. She articulated a trend within the legal marketplace – General Counsels across the country are demanding law firms know their clients. Relationships will always be important, but they cannot be the sole avenue for bringing business through the door. And with the help of technology in the 21st century, relationships don’t have to be. As discussed within the group, firms have been investing in tools and manpower behind gaining that competitive edge.
A few presenters then focused on growing practice areas within firms. Ann Lee Gibson created an exercise based on a current consumer industry that forced attendees to think out of the box. But then Mark T. Greene created a formulaic and methodical way to ascertain what practice areas within a firm to grow. Both were inventive; both were effective.
The next few presenters, Beth Marie Cuzzone and Tara M. Weintritt, had a clear theme – dedication to the client. They emphasized the emergence of, and importance of, client feedback interviews. Once a matter is resolved, firms have started to ask their clients to sit down to ascertain what went well and what didn’t. You can have all of the technology in the world, but your client will always be a wealth of information for future opportunity.
Jasmine Trillos-Decarie, Christine Fritsch, and Mark Medice spoke on how firms have invested in a centralized Client/Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that captures relationships and client intelligence, but adoption has remained a significant hurdle. Annie Johnson also provided great detail on how to create that strong infrastructure to create and maintain a successful CI mission within a firm.
The day closed with Deborah Colangelo and Gina Lynch offering their perspectives as they have seen the progression of CI. While they proffered there will not be one piece of technology that offers it all, they did agree that the technology is more advanced and there is better integration. They have also seen that partners are more involved and definitely more proactive.
While presenters offered their insights, the overall message was clear: competitive intelligence is no longer a luxury, but a requirement to stay on par with peer firms.