Competitive Intelligence Is Critical for Associate Professional Development

How Being in the Know Will Help Your Career Development …

Competitive intelligence (CI) is a relatively new phenomenon in law firms, with the discipline growing rapidly within the last five to 10 years. In broad terms, CI is any actionable information that can help an entity compete more effectively. It is much more than data collection. Information must be actionable; used in some way to make a decision or to even ask more questions. Law firms use CI to decide how to improve and succeed. They use it to retain happy clients and ward off competitors. They use it to identify trends among their existing client bases. They also use it to identify and engage new potential clients.

Approaches to CI in law firms run the gamut, however, professional development can be a predominant motivator.  Emily Rushing, a competitive intelligence manager at Haynes and Boone LLP, recommends these competitive intelligence activities that will keep you at the top of your game.

  • Market intelligence. Monitoring your clients’ industries, markets and competitors can help develop a deeper understanding of the company’s daily business issues or predict possible risks for your clients’ operations.
  • Research for new legal issues or trends. An important service to many clients is a firm’s thought leadership on emerging legal issues. CI can support the identification and presentation of these new topics as a service to clients.
  • Preparation for client interviews. CI can support attorneys in preparing for discussions with a client regarding an opportunity or threat that the client may currently face. This typically takes the form of a briefing on the company, its industry, the law firm’s past and current relationships with that company, key decision-makers, common relationships, current staffing by other service providers and any specific insight into current legal needs by that company.
  • Relationship mapping and referral analysis. A firm or attorney’s ability to connect key decision-makers with investors, financiers, consultants or other service providers can be critical to the client’s success. CI can help identify these relationships through previous matters, common relationships, and past referrals.

Competitive intelligence involves science and creative skill. It’s a must-have discipline for any new attorney who is serious about taking his or her career to the next level.

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Need help redefining your own professional development strategies? Learn more about Lexacount Search’s career consulting services here.


Jacqueline Hill, Esq.

This post was written by .

Jacqueline Hill is a partner at Lexacount Search, where she places top senior-level and other legal talent with law firms and corporate legal departments across the United States. She has been writing about careers, lawyers, attorney professional development, and the legal industry for more than a decade. She can be reached at or 215-740-0104, extension 101.

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