The Boston Globe today has a fairly in-depth article on law firms. Sacha Pfeiffer reports that firms are beginning to gather information on other firms and their clients, in order to compete for business:
For lawyers, that analysis might mean understanding how an upcoming merger of law firms could change the competitive landscape, how an anticipated regulatory change could affect business, when a practice area is ripe for expansion, or whether the arrival of a national law firm poses a threat. Without that knowledge, a law firm could overlook a promising opportunity to merge or lose a lucrative client to a rival firm.
These are tactical considerations that sound basic to many business people and perhaps even obvious. But some law firms have been known to make strategic decisions based on little more than intuition, gut instinct, or such ill-considered factors as opening a new office based on the desire of a single client, expanding overseas because a rival has done so, or allowing a bigger-is-better mentality to drive a decision to merge.
I have linked the Globe article in the title above. Evidently Fuld & Co., of Cambridge, MA, are offering seminars to local firms about how to compete in a more corporate manner. I'm confused, though; isn't this just an application of what firm librarians have been offering for a decade or so, under the name "Knowledge Management?" KM has been a buzzword in libraries for quite a while, so I am not clear on what Fuld & Co. offer to the firms beyond a new name...
I would love to hear comments from lawyers or firm librarians on this topic. Has your firm investigated this new "Competitive Intelligence?" Is it new and different from the KM librarians have been offering for years? How?