AALL Competitive Intelligence Foundations

I attended the augural AALL Competitive Intelligence Foundations program in October 2017 which was made possible by a CALL grant. Zena Applebaum, Director of Professional Firm Customer Segments with Thomson Reuters in Canada, was the instructor for the program. The program was a day-long event held at Sidley Austin in Chicago.

The CI Foundations program was designed to help attendees establish and maintain a competitive intelligence (“CI”) function in a law firm. It was a valuable learning experience for both law firm librarians with established CI groups and for those just beginning to put together formal programs.

Zena began by the day by stating that anyone can do CI work and by acknowledging that many of us are already doing this work. She defined what CI is and discussed various methodologies associated with the practice. She went on to talk about initiating a CI function within a law firm. Zena examined how CI is different for law firms. In law firms, CI can be a separate function or can be part of the library, knowledge management, business development, or marketing departments.

For me, the most practical takeaway of CI Foundations was learning how to execute a CI program. I appreciate the analytical framework and timeline templates Zena presented to the class and have started to incorporate these formats in my own daily work. Seeing examples of the different deliverables allowed me to think about presenting information in a way that is easily digestible.

In addition to learning from an expert like Zena Applebaum, another valuable part of the day was the opportunity to network with other AALL members from across the country. I am grateful to CALL for the opportunity to attend this program.