The Path to Data-Driven Strategy and Planning

June 14, 2018

By Mitchell Blas

A recent Thomson Reuters event covered the increasing dependence of law firms on analytical data and competitive intelligence to accomplish goals such as:

  • Finding opportunities to open new office locations and expand geographic reach.
  • Seek and launch in new markets and practice areas, and fortify market positions.
  • Retain clients and enhance services to existing clients.
  • Cultivate organic growth of top-line and other services and go-to-market branding strategies.
  • Acquire and retain talent.
  • Develop pricing structures.
  • Drive innovation and change.
  • Anticipate long-range goals and market shifts.
  • Monitor competitors.

The panel—moderated by Marcie Borgal Shunk who founded the TILT Institute (, an organization that helps law firms develop their competitive intelligence and other analytical resources—consisted of competitive intelligence directors from leading law firms and research consultancies working with law firms.

Most firms currently use competitive intelligence and other analytics for singular objectives, and 80% of firms have only one person dedicated to competitive intelligence. However, larger firms are hiring more people and creating new departments dedicated to competitive intelligence —because of the data’s positive results—which lead to additional, ongoing data requests within firms.

Panel members discussed the emerging use of technology to acquire and utilize competitive intelligence, noting that there are approximately 30 billion connected devices in use. In fact, some firms have developed chief strategy officer positions to lead these emerging capabilities. The group talked about compiling data, mentoring trainees, feedback functions, as well as using competitive intelligence to develop legal expertise, business acumen, client knowledge and more. The session concluded with several key axioms for data-driven planning:

  • Communicate often.
  • Make sure data is verifiable.
  • Know data sources.
  • Buy and/or build analytical support.
  • Cultivate a culture of data-based decisions.
  • Develop a top-down view of leadership.

One interesting discussion point was the spectrum of needs, with most being at the lower end of the spectrum versus trusted advisor services toward the higher end. The latter provides a variety of opportunities for firms such as EisnerAmper.

About Mitchell J. Blas

Mr. Blas is a Tax Manager with over 35 years of public accounting experience. He specializes in finding creative tax solutions for highly compensated individuals, small business owners and service professionals in a number of industries.