Law Firms Bulking Up Intelligence Analysis Arms

, The Legal Intelligencer

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In a profession that relies heavily on precedence, research of all forms has long driven even the business decisions of law firms. But in the past few years that function has morphed from one of printing out reams of information into one that involves targeted business analysis that often requires a leap of faith rather than following the doctrine of stare decisis.

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  • Ann Lee Gibson

    Gina, thank you for this series on competitive intelligence in law firms. This is another great article.

    I would like to emphasize that competitive intelligence does not draw merely from secondary information that others have collected. Collecting and analyzing human intelligence is a significant aspect of CI.

    CI workers should tap into valuable human intel sources inside their firms. Lawyers and paralegals are great sources of intel, as are the firm‘s professionals in IT, HR, finance, recruiting, marketing and business development, facilities, etc.

    But a firm‘s lawyers and intelligence professionals must also go outside the firm to learn what‘s happening in the marketplace. Legal industry conferences, bar association meetings, client meetings and other gatherings yield great human info and intel as colleagues share news about “what’s happening now.” Every good law firm CI pro has a good human network of sources. Their contributions must be corroborated.

    As your article makes clear, the most obvious human intel sources outside the law firm are the firm‘s clients. Other human intel sources include firm competitors, reporters and editors, management consultants, real estate brokers, architectural designers, legal tech vendors, and client industry experts.

    Finally, human intel employed by law firm CI functions must be collected and used ethically. A law firm intelligence professional must follow scrupulously SCIP’s ethical guidelines that govern the collection and use of information. SCIP‘s Code of Ethics for CI Professionals is found at http://www.scip.org/CodeOfEthics.php.

    Law firm competitive intelligence is truly an exciting profession that can improve decision making. For any firm managers that want to create or expand CI functions, I would urge that you to gauge your firm’s culture. Is it compatible with CI’s overarching goal—to improve decision making? Timid firms, where next year’s programs look like last year’s, will waste their money on CI. A firm should not bother investing in CI if the only decisions its leaders make involve repeating last year’s actions.

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