Late last month, on behalf of Thomson Reuters, I had the privilege of facilitating a mini Hack-A-Thon with 30ish lawyers from Cassels Brock at their annual Lawyers Retreat. The idea was to take lawyers who are already out of the office and give them some time to reflect on their workflows, their technology

Should law firms invest in more competitive intelligence? Asks Ron Friedmann. Um. Yes. Always yes. And not just law firms but every business should invest more in CI.  Investing in knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know and knowing what the market knows – about you and otherwise – is an investment every business should make.  In the above mentioned article, CI is described as “The deeper the insight, the better. Competitive intelligence serves that purpose. It helps win business and improve service delivery.”  The article goes on to talk about the ways CI can help law firm business development and marketing efforts, this post was expertly timed to come out in advance of the Legal Marketing Associations annual conference being held in Atlanta this coming week.  The revisiting a February 2019 survey and calling for more CI is a great start,  CI can help with business development.

But positioning CI only as BD and Marketing support sells CI short.   CI can and should drive business development efforts but CI is much more.   CI should be embedded in practice planning, strategic firm growth discussions, lateral hire diligence, office or practice expansion proposals.  To borrow and expand on the SCIP.org definition of CI, it is a systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing, and managing external and internal information that can affects your business.  There are a few key elements to that definition that get lost when we think of CI as only competitive research to support BD and marketing efforts. Namely, the idea of CI being based on analysis, and a combination of internal and external information gathering.  The aforementioned competitive research leaves out rigorous analysis and negates internal data, which firms are producing in mass quantities and not leveraging very well beyond pricing or resource planning.  We need to bring the outside in. if we are going to truly do meaningful CI for our firms. CI needs to be systematic, it needs to be ongoing not only tied to a specific RFP or a moment in time, it should evolve with the firm and inform any business decision that requires both avoiding surprises (the fall of a competitor firm, the exit of an entire practice of lawyers from your firm to a competitor) and forecasting for the future (did we see e-sports coming as a burgeoning area of law?).
Continue Reading More CI? That’s Axiomatic

I was recently approached by the ARK Group to write a chapter for their forthcoming book about How Intelligence Functions within Law Firms Can and Should Support One Another. For years, and most recently in a series of ILTA webinars on CI, I have been advocating for collaborative intelligence. I may have even blogged about it here once or twice too.  While writing my chapter, with the same title as this post, I was able to articulate a few concepts that I thought were worth sharing and reiterating, even if they all seem obvious.

Data Doesn’t Make Decisions it seems obvious, but I think in all the AI, RoboLawyer hype we need to be reminded.  People are still central to decision making, data in its various forms and all the ranges of analysis from SWOT (simple) to AI algorithms (complex) still does require human intelligence and interaction to get at the nuance and understand sometimes complex emotional context.
Continue Reading Data Doesn’t Make Decisions

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit with 15 members of a large law firm’s administrative team for about 2 hours as I facilitated a Design Thinking workshop. Design Thinking is thoughtful as well as free flowing, a bit different for law firms. Once the domain of software development, it has been appropriated by

Over the past month I have given about a dozen talks in large conference settings with hundred of people, or at smaller intimate partner/ counsel lunches, or for people spanning the globe via webinar. The discussions have ranged in content and theme but all were legal industry favourites including:

  • the state of the legal industry 10 years out from the great recession of 2018;
  • the seat change from Baby Boomers to Millennials in firms, and what that means for the way work is done, how people are motivated and what success looks like;
  • competitive intelligence – what is means in and for the legal industry right now;
  • personal branding for lawyers and non lawyers and why it matters; and
  • emerging legal technology tools, adoption techniques, use cases and efficiency plays;


Continue Reading You Spin Me Right Round…

For many years working in the realm of law firms I have been described as a Non – a non lawyer. It is a rather strange predicament to define yourself and your skills based on what you are not, rather than what you are. I remember when my husband first graduated from university and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, he took a series of jobs to try things out only to come to the conclusion a year later that he learned what he didn’t want to do.  So he went back to school, twice, in pursuit of being a something.  I on the other hand, graduated from grad school and shortly thereafter started on my almost two decade journey of being a Non.

Continue Reading My Non Life

I am writing this blog post on the plane as I fly back to Toronto from Halifax, having just spent the last three days at the CALL/ACBD annual conference. The conference was fantastic, highlights for me included an opening session with Jordan Furlong who suggested we are entering an era of Legal Intelligence – a topic near and dear to my heart, a stellar lunch keynote from Janet Maybee on the wrongful conviction of Pilot Francis Mackey in respect to the 1917 Halifax explosion, and of course a meet up with fellow 3 Geeks blogger Greg Lambert. I think my colleagues from Thomson Reuters Canada showed him just how the vendor client relationship can actually be quite strong and positive.  But all of that pales in comparison to the many great one-on-one conversations that I was able to have with people about the state of the industry, the position of law librarianship, the influence of legal tech – AI, Machine Learning, predictive analytics and what the (very exciting) future holds for all of us.

Continue Reading Bored Walk and Profit Place

Earlier this month, we were debating how to approach a client problem. There were two differing points of view, both had merit and either could be right. Either would get us to the finish line, solve the problem, score the run – insert your analogy of choice. But each position also had its drawbacks. Someone