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Law firms: balancing reactive and proactive intelligence

July 27, 2018

Home Blog Research & intelligence Law firms: balancing reactive and proactive intelligence

It’s not enough for law firms to obtain competitive intelligence.

They need to be clear from the outset how it will be used. While your competitive intelligence agency can provide as much information as you need, and work with you to keep that flow of information as concise as possible, the onus will be on the law firm to ensure that they can derive value from it. This value can be broadly viewed as being either reactive or proactive.

As a topical example, the Brexit process is something all law firms – particularly those with international interests – are paying close attention to. However, law firms choose to manage the intelligence they receive regarding Brexit in different ways, depending on the resources they want to designate to it.

Reactive intelligence

Adopting a reactive approach to competitive intelligence is perhaps the more cautious of the two.

In this case, a law firm won’t commit resources to changing the outcomes of factors beyond their control that will affect their own business, or their clients’. They’ll allow events to unfold, and act according to how they play out.

The reason this is the more cautious approach, is that action is taken after the outcome is determined, so there is less risk to the law firm.

For example, with the ever-changing updates on Brexit negotiations, law firms may feel that there is no point in committing to outcomes, or advising clients beyond monitoring the situation, given the lack of clarity on what the negotiations will ultimately mean for the UK or the EU.

Proactive intelligence

This presents somewhat of a riskier approach, where law firms use the intelligence they obtain to preempt outcomes.

The risk of course emanates from a world that’s ever changing at a rapid pace.

Again, with Brexit as an example, many elements of British legislation and regulation is tied to the EU in some capacity. Firms with the appropriate resources can begin planning, and continually modify their strategy as news comes out of negotiations, with their own planning and advice for clients in place as soon as deals – or no deals – are in place.

The balance

In considering reactive vs. proactive intelligence, there isn’t really a right or wrong solution. It’s actually more than likely that law firms do a little bit of both.

With internationally significant, long-winded, complex events like Brexit, the questions you need answered for your law firm’s competitive intelligence needs are proportional to Brexit itself. It’s imperative for firms to keep on top of developments, ensure the relevance to the questions they need answered, and worth discussing with the CI vendor whether or not the questions are seeking reactive or proactive answers.

It’s a good time and topic for demonstrating the value of an open line with your vendor. With developments breaking daily on the matter, changing CI priorities will need to be addressed as promptly as possible.

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This article was originally published on ShiftCentral, now part of LAC Group.

Kristina Montgomery

Kristina Montgomery

Kristina Montgomery is LAC Group's VP, Client Engagement based in New York working with legal, life sciences, financial and professional services clients.
Kristina Montgomery

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