All Hands on Deck for Business Development Efforts: Libraries Part of the BD Crew


It was great to see the library getting recognition in an article by Bloomberg Law’s Scott Mozarky, Large Law’s Not-So-Secret Weapon In Marketing And BD: The Library.  In the piece, Scott says, “Law firm libraries have always been major assets for partners and associates in providing strong practice of law results to their clients. However, the library was not often perceived to be a key component in a firm’s marketing or business development machinery.”

This particular line struck me as timely since On Firmer Ground recently recapped two webinars where private law firm librarians/information professionals were discussing competitive intelligence efforts at their firms.  You Ask, We Tell – Your CI Report Formatting Questions Answered was hosted by the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals’ Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), and Library and Marketing: Why Can’t We Be Friends? represented a first-time collaboration between the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and AALL. Two of the panelists representing the library function in the LMA webinar said they had been involved in competitive intelligence work at their firms for ten years, and that they played an integral part in the firm’s business development efforts.

Scott is correct that librarians aren’t always perceived as a key part of the firm’s business development machinery though, and his article offers a perfect lead-in to a list of competitive intelligence/business development resources available from the American Association of Law Libraries.  Hopefully, firm librarians can glean some useful nuggets from these as they keep pushing ahead with their business development contributions.

Resources on library’s role in CI/BD:

The Library as a Business Development, Competitive Intelligence and Client Relations Asset for Law Firms, a 2011 PLLIP Resource Guide.  Contributors include Camille Reynolds, Karen Hison, Kathy Skinner, Jocelyn Stilwell, and Nina Platt.

The conclusion of the guide re-emphasizes Scott’s message:

“The legal marketplace has become increasingly competitive in recent years. The librarian is an invaluable asset to the firm’s efforts to identify, attract and retain clients and is a key partner to the firm’s marketing and business development professionals in helping the firm to obtain and retain a competitive advantage in this new landscape. The advent of this more competitive landscape and rapid changes in technology make the skills of a firm librarian even more valuable to firms and their clients. In this age of Google many can find information, but today it is imperative to find the right information in the most timely and efficient manner possible, and librarians are the experts to do that, thereby helping to keep their firms competitive in today’s market.”

Competitive Intelligence and Your Library: 10 Best Practices for Starting (or Growing) a CI Function for Small and Medium Firms” by Zena Applebaum, AALL Spectrum, Oct/Nov 2016

Zena stresses the importance of departments working together and sharing information within the firm.  She notes that CI efforts are often scattered throughout the firm, but suggests that the library can take a leading role in these efforts.  “Many firms are doing some version of CI already, whether in marketing, accounting, business development, or otherwise. There are always pockets of people who are working through the steps of the CI cycle, whether for one initiative or a series of decisions”….[S]ince the research part of the CI cycle is so crucial, the library has the opportunity to act as the centerpiece for CI in firms.”

Survey Says: Shedding Light on CI/BD Research in Law Firms” by Trina Morrow and Annemarie Donovan,  AALL Spectrum, July 2012.

This article started with the following helpful summary of previous articles.

“Business development research by law firm librarians is nothing new. In fact, there have been several Spectrum articles on competitive intelligence/business development (CI/BD) research since 2006, including “Blurring the Lines” by Janet Peros, April 2006 issue; “Capitalizing on Competitive Intelligence” by Donna M. Fisher, Sept/Oct 2006 issue; and “Uniting in Competitive Intelligence” by Monice M. Kaczorowski, March 2008 issue, to name a few.”

Also, Mark Gediman, director of information services at Best Best & Krieger LLP, and a co-chair of the PLLIP-SIS Competitive Intelligence Caucus, recently contributed a chapter to ARK Group’s Strategic Intelligence for Law Firms (2016).  Mark’s chapter focuses on how to compile an engaging and user-friendly competitive intelligence report that successfully presents critical data.   Other chapters in this title may also be of interest.

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