Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 8.56.30 AMThe Legal Intelligencer has launched a series of articles that focus on “competitive intelligence” in the context of legal practice.

The term “competitive intelligence” refers to the ways in which one company makes itself aware of what other companies in the same field (i.e., its “competitors”) are doing. This may include tracking their business practices, assessing their client bases and fields of practice, monitoring their promotion and marketing initiatives, and other tactics.

The first installment in The Intelligencer series points out that competitive intelligence among law firms is still in a “relatively nascent stage” and that even those firms that are using it in one form or another don’t necessarily agree on what the term means when applied to legal practice — or what it entails.

The article’s author, Gina Passarella, says that while such initiatives are today often undertaken only for specific purposes, such as pitching a prospective client, some law-firm consultants believe that ultimately “the goal is to reach the strategy stage in which competitive intelligence analysts are assisting firm management in making long-range decisions such as mergers and office openings.”

Passarella quotes Jasmine Trillos-Decarie, director of marketing and business development at the Boston-based law firm Foley Hoag, who predicts that as growing a client base increasingly means attracting work from other firms, law-firm approaches to competitive intelligence will become more and more refined. However, she hopes that the practice will not degenerate to include the “take down” tactics that occur elsewhere in corporate America.

The title of the article in The Legal Intelligencer – “Competitive Intelligence: Spy Games or Market Research?” – could itself lead to some interesting discussion.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments section below, or directly via email.