Should law firms invest in more competitive intelligence? Asks Ron Friedmann. Um. Yes. Always yes. And not just law firms but every business should invest more in CI.  Investing in knowing what you know, knowing what you don’t know and knowing what the market knows – about you and otherwise – is an investment every business should make.  In the above mentioned article, CI is described as “The deeper the insight, the better. Competitive intelligence serves that purpose. It helps win business and improve service delivery.”  The article goes on to talk about the ways CI can help law firm business development and marketing efforts, this post was expertly timed to come out in advance of the Legal Marketing Associations annual conference being held in Atlanta this coming week.  The revisiting a February 2019 survey and calling for more CI is a great start,  CI can help with business development.

But positioning CI only as BD and Marketing support sells CI short.   CI can and should drive business development efforts but CI is much more.   CI should be embedded in practice planning, strategic firm growth discussions, lateral hire diligence, office or practice expansion proposals.  To borrow and expand on the SCIP.org definition of CI, it is a systematic and ethical program for gathering, analyzing, and managing external and internal information that can affects your business.  There are a few key elements to that definition that get lost when we think of CI as only competitive research to support BD and marketing efforts. Namely, the idea of CI being based on analysis, and a combination of internal and external information gathering.  The aforementioned competitive research leaves out rigorous analysis and negates internal data, which firms are producing in mass quantities and not leveraging very well beyond pricing or resource planning.  We need to bring the outside in. if we are going to truly do meaningful CI for our firms. CI needs to be systematic, it needs to be ongoing not only tied to a specific RFP or a moment in time, it should evolve with the firm and inform any business decision that requires both avoiding surprises (the fall of a competitor firm, the exit of an entire practice of lawyers from your firm to a competitor) and forecasting for the future (did we see e-sports coming as a burgeoning area of law?).
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I was recently approached by the ARK Group to write a chapter for their forthcoming book about How Intelligence Functions within Law Firms Can and Should Support One Another. For years, and most recently in a series of ILTA webinars on CI, I have been advocating for collaborative intelligence. I may have even blogged about it here once or twice too.  While writing my chapter, with the same title as this post, I was able to articulate a few concepts that I thought were worth sharing and reiterating, even if they all seem obvious.

Data Doesn’t Make Decisions it seems obvious, but I think in all the AI, RoboLawyer hype we need to be reminded.  People are still central to decision making, data in its various forms and all the ranges of analysis from SWOT (simple) to AI algorithms (complex) still does require human intelligence and interaction to get at the nuance and understand sometimes complex emotional context.
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On this mini-episode of The Geek In Review, Greg talks about three eerie/interesting/scary instances where the technology seems to be ahead of us humans. Can Amazon be tracking us in a craft store? Are automated computer game players AI? Should guidance apps like WAZE, create a dangerous situation? Well, all three happened. Is it purely happenstance, or is it the technology going beyond our understanding. Probably happenstance… but still eerie.

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Marlene explored a number of unique holiday drinks, music, and customs. So, if you’re still in the holiday mood… check out ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus? by the Gusters, Bloodshot Records 13 Days of XMas, particularly, The Pagans Had it Right, by Devil in a Woodpile, and How to Make Gravy by All Our Exes Live in Texas. If you need a drink, try the Puerto Rican holiday drink of Coquito.
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For many years working in the realm of law firms I have been described as a Non – a non lawyer. It is a rather strange predicament to define yourself and your skills based on what you are not, rather than what you are. I remember when my husband first graduated from university and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, he took a series of jobs to try things out only to come to the conclusion a year later that he learned what he didn’t want to do.  So he went back to school, twice, in pursuit of being a something.  I on the other hand, graduated from grad school and shortly thereafter started on my almost two decade journey of being a Non.

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All too often in law firms when we talk about marketing failures or look for new marketing successes, we look to see how “other industries” are doing it. We look at the marketing spend of consumer goods companies which make our budgets look like a small child’s allowance.  We bemoan not having enough money to

In his post the “Great Google Debate“, Mark Gediman suggested I was wise to not touch the debate on Google, and while I am happy to take the compliment, it also makes me wonder if somewhere down the road we (and by we, I mean those industry insiders, you know who you are)