Strategic Librarian

Using strategy to develop the law firm library.

LAC Group & Rapid Research Solutions: R2S

LAC_LogoI’ve made a few career changes over the last few years, but nothing compares to what I am currently doing.  I was asked to join LAC Group last year and was very excited to start in July after discussions with law librarian, founder, and CEO, Deb Schwarz, and industry veteran and COO, Rob Corrao.  What I’ve found since I started is that LAC Group is as innovative and dynamic as they both told me.

LAC Group started out as a law library consultancy in Los Angeles and has since grown into an international company that serves law firms but also serves government, corporations, financial services, professional services, academia, and broadcast and media.  Often thought of as a recruiting company,  LAC Group is much more as it offers consulting, information management, and expense reduction services.  Each of those areas cover many types of services.  You can view the LAC Group website to learn more.

As Senior Director of Legal Market Services, I provide consulting to law firms but I have another responsibility that I think demonstrates how innovative LAC Group really is.  While we’ve always provided research services, in 2012 we took it a step further with the introduction of a new service called Rapid Research Solutions: R2S.  With R2S, we provide both on-demand and in-depth research services complete with a research portal.   As the manager of the service, I worked on the initial launch of the service with Michele Lucero joining me in October as Director of Business Development and Client Services.  Since then we’ve been meeting with law firm library directors and staff across the country extolling the service’s virtues – and there are many.

A research portal is part of the R2S offering.  It allows users to make a request, track the progress of the request, and retrieve the results in the format the firm has specified.  A recent press release explains more about it – LAC Group Introduces the R2S Portal to Support its On Demand Research Business.

Competitive Intelligence Analysis: I’ve Done the Research – Now, What Do I Do With It?

In today’s increasingly competitive environment, businesses need to be able to convert the wealth of data and information available into intelligence for decision making and subsequent actions.  This conversion is acomplished through analysis.  Register now to join us in a webinar called “Competitive Intelligence Analysis:  I’ve Done the Research – Now, What Do I Do With It?” that will be held on Wednesday, March 24, 2010 from Noon to 1PM Central.  This webinar will introduce the concept of analysis as part of the intellingence cycle, discuss several analytical techniques, such as industry analysis, competitor analysis and SWOT.  Real world examples will be provided as well as example templates so that participants can begin to immediately use their learnings. During the session, you will:

• Understand how the analysis phase interacts with the rest of the intelligence system
• Determine the role analysis plays in producing decision-oriented intelligence reports
• Learn how to evaluate analytical tools for different CI requirements

Cost:  $30 per person USD or $60 USD for groups of up to 10 from the same firm


Kristy Morley, Senior Manager, Business/Competitive Intelligence, Pfizer Nutrition
Currently part of Pfizer, Kristy Morley began her career in pharmaceuticals when she joined Wyeth (formerly American Home Products Corporation) in 1997, in the Nutrition Division.  She initially began as a Project Manager in the New Product & Process Development Group.  Kristy made the move to competitive intelligence in 2001, serving the the Nutrition Research group with competitor R&D pipeline tracking.  The function grew and was moved to the Marketing group in 2006.  The CI group currently provides intelligence consulting, expertise, and oversight to brand teams, new product groups, and Senior Management. Prior to joining Wyeth, Kristy spent five years at Avebe America, Inc and holds a B.S. in Food Science and Technology. She has been a member of SCIP since 2001 and is a graduate from the Gilad-Herring Academy of Competitive Intelligence, and currently serves as a member of the SCIP Philadelphia Chapter Steering Committee.


Nina Platt, Principal ConsultantNina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Owner and principal consultant, Nina Platt is a law librarian and former AmLaw 100 firm library director who has worked in law firms since 1986.  Her work in library management has spanned all but 4 of those years.  Nina believes the most effective law firm libraries are critical to both the business and practice of law and that achieving to build a business critical library can only be done through the use of business tools like strategic plans, business plans, business cases, and more.  She has written and delivered numerous articles, presentations, and papers on library and knowledge management topics.   

Questions?  Contact

Upcoming Competitive Intelligence webinar

Beginning a new Competitive Intelligence effort at your firm can be a challenging task.  Register for Establishing a Competitive Intelligence Function at Your Law Firm: A Beginner’s Guide to the 4 D’s on February 4, 2010, and the webinar presenters will guide you through the step-by-step process of establishing a CI effort at your firm.  Key assessment activities, needs assessments, information audits and cultural assessments, will be introduced that will enable you to set the foundation of your CI effort.  The day-to-day activities of CI group processes and procedures will be covered as well as tracking your group’s CI effort to make CI measurable to the executive committee.

Key learning points:

  1. Step-by-step process of a CI effort at your firm
  2. Needs, information and firm culture assessments
  3. Tracking CI activities – making CI measurable
  4. CI group processes and projects

Cost:  $30 per person USD or $60 USD for groups of up to 10 from the same firm


Carrie P. Long, MLIS – Research Analyst, Nina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Research analyst, Carrie Long, has a Masters of Library and Information Science and over 10 years of experience in law firms and libraries, with her most recent position in an AmLaw 100 firm as Manager of Research Services. Carrie has extensive experience in managing and executing large, complex Competitive Intelligence (CI) and Research projects in the areas of: law firm and practice area analysis; company and industry analysis; product analysis, market share analysis and prospecting. Carrie’s current clients include:  information services vendors; legal vendors; and law firms.

Barbara Williams, MS – Market Analyst, USM Services 
Barbara Williams has over ten years of progressive and cross industry experience and responsibility in Competitive Intelligence and business development in the online information, legal and facilities management industries. Prior to her current position as Market Analyst at facilities management provider, USM, Barb was a Competitive Intelligence Analyst at Fox Rothschild.  She was responsible for providing in-depth business, industry, and competitive intelligence analysis support to attorneys and practice groups for the 450-attorney firm. At Thomson West, now Thomson Reuters, Barb was the Manager of Competitive Intelligence.  During her tenure with the company, she co-developed the CI function, which provided CI support to market research, marketing, field sales, and new product development initiatives. Barb has additional expertise and experience in product analysis and sales force intelligence.

Nina Platt, Principal Consultant
Nina Platt Consulting, Inc.
Owner and principal consultant, Nina Platt is a law librarian and former AmLaw 100 firm library director who has worked in law firms since 1986.  Her work in library management has spanned all but 4 of those years.  Nina believes the most effective law firm libraries are critical to both the business and practice of law and that achieving to build a business critical library can only be done through the use of business tools like strategic plans, business plans, business cases, and more.  She has written and delivered numerous articles, presentations, and papers on library and knowledge management topics.   

Questions?  Contact

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Competitive Intelligence in Law Firms Survey Results

During the end of April and early May of this year, at the request of ILTA Knowledge Management Vice President, Catherine Monte, NPCI asked the directors of the NLJ 250 to respond to a survey regarding how their firms were approaching CI.  With 77 firms responding, we received the following results. 

  •  75.4% are performing some type of competitive intelligence with another 8.8% not doing so yet but are in the planning phase
  • 12.3% have a formal CI program
  • 39.3%  have management or executive committee endorsement
  • 61.5% are seeing the CI request increasing with 7.7% decreasing and 28.2% remaining steady
  • 23.7% are seeing funding for CI increasing with 7.9% decreasing and 55.3% remaining steady
  • 49% of those doing CI research report to the library with 16.3% reporting to marketing, 20.4% reporting to Library/Marketing, 2% reporting to practice group leaders and 20.4% undefined

The following list of resources are those that reporting firms are using to do CI research:

Resources Used In NLJ 250 Law firms for Competitive Intelligence



Capital IQ       


Deal Pipeline  

Debt Market





Incisive Legal Intelligence



Leadership Directories


Lexis AdVantage

Lexis Company Dossier

Lexis Courtlink

Mergent Online






Reference USA

SNL Financial

Thomson Financial Services


West Deal Monitor

West IP Monitor

West Litigation Monitor


Yahoo Finance



We will be posting additional information from the survey at a future date.  In the meantime, we would love to get your feedback on this information including resources you use that are not on the list above.

~ Nina Platt

Ark Group – Partnering for Profitability: The Convergence of Business Analytics, Competitive Intelligence and Client Relationship Management

The second session of the Ark Group conference I reported on this morning is titled “Partnering for Profitability: The Convergence of Business Analytics, Competitive Intelligence & Client Relationship Management.”  It was moderated by Joel Alleyne, Chief Information and Knowledge Officer for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.

Mark Young, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Foley Hoag, introduced the session talking about the business of law in this competitive market. 

Ruth Armstrong, Director of Library and Information Resources at White & Case followed with a description of her firm’s competitive intelligence program.  60% of the work they do in this area is non-US based.  She began working with her firm’s CMO and with the Finance department to determine what their program would look like.

Christine Scherzinger, Director of Library & Research Services described how her library works closely with Marketing to conduct competitive intelligence

Question from Joel: Who has responsibility for CI in the firm?

  • Ruth – The library has primary responsibility.
  • Mark – works collaboratively with the library in his firm.
  • Christine – Marketing has responsibility for setting strategy.  The library supports it.

Ruth described how it is for the library to change in their focus from research focused to business focused. 

In all three cases the library is responsible for the acquisition and management of any resources used for CI.  All agreed there is no place for any turf war between the library and marketing.  The focus should be to work on CI as a collaborative team.  Expect it to take time to work out all the details of how the team will work.

The group as a whole discussed the issue of a library that had responsibility for the whole CI process but were short staffed and the staff in the library were not trained to do the analysis.  Many of the participants said they saw that as an opportunity and not as a problem.  The reverse where the library is left out of the process is the real problem.  Work with your management to justify additional staff (tough to do in this economy) and participate in training to develop analytical skills.

Question from Joel to the group:

  • How many of your firms have an active CI process – 12 out of 29 participants in the room.
  • Which of you have the prime role of CI – 2 firms

Question from group about how to develop the report formats.   Panelist response:  It takes time to determine the best formats and whatever we create will change over time. 

Summary from Joel.  The panelists brought 3 different prospectives.  One from the marketing department looking at CI from a different viewpoint, one very organized structured program and one that approaches from it in stealth mode.  In any case CI is a great opportunity for libraries.

This was another thought provoking presentation and discussing.   Next presentation: Protecting the Core – While Being Strategic.

SLA CE : What Do You Do After You Log Off – Mary Ellen Bates

I moderated a SLA Legal Divisionsponsored CE at the SLA Conference (currently happening in Seattle) called “What Do You Do After You Log Off” presented by Mary Ellen Bates, consultant and author of Library of Fortune.  Mary Ellen’s presentations are always thought provoking and extremely useful at the same time.  I’ve never come away from any of them without learning about important research tools and tips.    This program was no different. 

Without trying to cover the 4 hour program, I thought I would highlight some of the ideas and resources she talked about for use in packaging and delivering information as well as sources for producing statistics that go beyond what we have traditionally delivered to our library users.

“The perfect is the enemy of the good enough” – Here Mary Ellen talked about the need we all have as librarians to provide the perfect answer while the reality is that we may not have those types of expectations from our users and we most often don’t have the time to do it either. – This is a tool for creating trend results of subjects that have been written about in blogs over time.  You can search on a topic or the name of your company, firm, client, prospect, etc. and see the trend results for the last 2, 4, or six months in a chart format.  It has other features to check out as well.  Click on the following image to see the amount of times Target Corp was blogged about during the last 2 months.

Google Trends– This trend analysis tool will tell you what people are searching on over time.  You can also compare search terms over time as well.  This goes back farther than BlogPulse.  You can search for trends in searching from January 2004.  You can also limit by region/country or by year.  Here again you could use this to search topics, companies, industries, etc.  Click on the following screen-shot to see the trends for “competitive intelligence” shown with a chart and the top 10 in regions, cities and languages. – This is a social networking site that has tons of features.  Mary Ellen demonstrated it as a tool that you can use to save urls for resources that you discovered while researching a topic.  Once saved, you can share with others, produce a citation list, etc.  No more copy and pasting into a report to send to your client.  I haven’t had time to explore it myself, but it looks like a great resource for managing and delivering research results worth sharing.

This is only a minuscule part of what Mary Ellen presented.  Definitely 4 hours that were worth it.  As she does repeat this program at various venues, I would recommend attendance you you have a chance.

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Peek Inside Your Competitor’s Business

j0409717.jpgThose new to Competitive Intelligence may find the BNET Feature, Peek Inside Your Competitor’s Business, useful.  The CI feature includes:

  • How to Gather Competitive Research
  • Case Study: Bain Looks Inside a Japanese Automaker
  • Thou Shalt Not Steal Thy Competitor’s Secrets
  • Where to Find the Competitive Data You Need
  • As some of the individuals who posted comments on the site said, these articles provide “good advice.”

    ~ Nina Platt