Revisiting the PLLIP Resource Guides: The Library as a Business Development, Competitive Intelligence and Client Relations Asset for Law Firms

The Library as a Business Development, Competitive Intelligence and Client Relations Asset for Law Firms was written in 2011 as part of a series of resource guides published by the Private Law Librarians Special Interest Section of AALL.  The section has since been renamed the Private Law Librarians and Information Professionals Special Interest Section to reflect the array of legal information-related positions held by its members.

From the Introduction:

“Although bringing in new clients is an important role of the marketing department, in the current legal marketplace, client retention and development have become increasingly important for attorneys and for business development and marketing professionals. A challenging economy in the late 2000’s led to a change in the way firms do business, and being able to demonstrate value to existing clients as well as new clients is crucial. The library can play a key role in business development efforts by providing timely, reliable, and well-presented information about current and potential clients, industry and legal market trends, and cross-selling opportunities.

The amount of available information can be overwhelming.  However, professional librarians are trained to find and evaluate the best resources for the content, timeliness and value of that information. By working together with attorneys and business development professionals, the library can provide the information necessary for client advisories and intranet postings, responses to RFPs (Requests for Proposals), pitches, conference materials and other publications. The challenges in the current legal marketplace make it more important than ever to find the best information in the most efficient and effective manner.

This AALL Resource Guide was developed to help law firm management understand how professional librarians can assist in marketing and business development efforts with a goal of increased revenue and profitability by:

  • creating a cross-functional team with legal staff, marketing and others in planning for marketing and business development initiatives;
  • conducting the research necessary to support those initiatives;
  • supporting the knowledge needed by the firm to compete effectively by developing proactive client-information products (advisories, alerts, intranet content);
  • monitoring and reporting on legal industry trends (new fee arrangements, flexible work schedules);
  • and maximizing information resources and eliminating redundant work efforts.”

The guide elaborates on what competitive intelligence (CI) is; provides examples of how firms use CI to make decisions, and lists examples of resources for business development & client retention by type of resource—market research, industry research, company research, people research, and current awareness tools.  The guide refers readers to their firm’s research center to find out what resources are available to them, and firms may have newer resources that weren’t available at the time this guide was written.

Contributors to this guide included Camille Reynolds, Karen Hison, Kathy Skinner, Jocelyn Stilwell, and Nina Platt.


For further reading, the September/October 2016 issue of AALL Spectrum featured an article by Zena Applebaum on “Competitive Intelligence and Your Library:  10 Best Practices.”

Also, AALL is offering a Competitive Intelligence Foundations course in Chicago on October 27, 2017.  The course is open to both members and non-members.  Topics to be covered include competitive intelligence concepts and methodology; establishing and organizing a competitive intelligence function; integrating competitive intelligence into strategic practice and firm goals, and a look at how competitive intelligence is different for law firms.

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