AI marketing for law firms: Precautions and practical uses

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 What exactly is AI?

 What are some concerns about AI?

 How can I use AI to improve my small law firm’s marketing?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has rocketed to the forefront of everyone’s attention. Its ability to generate written content, create images, write code, and devise plans has fascinated professionals across several industries — and raised concerns about how it actually works.

Regardless of whether you find AI spellbinding or terrifying, it’s a powerful tool that, when used correctly, can greatly augment your small law firm’s or solo practice’s digital marketing and advertising efforts. Let’s take a quick look at what AI is and why you should exercise a degree of caution when using it. 

What exactly is AI?

AI is one of those terms where the boundaries expand and contract depending on who is using it and in what context. Broadly speaking, AI refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that once required human intelligence. To greatly simplify it, AI systems do this by analyzing enormous amounts of data culled largely from the internet, identifying patterns, and “learning” from their past tasks to improve in the future.  

What are some concerns about AI?

As powerful and useful as AI is, here are some things to be aware of before you integrate it into your law firm’s digital legal marketing plan: 

  • Copyright: Currently, written and visual content created entirely by AI cannot be copyrighted, since having a human author is an indisputable bedrock principle of copyright law. The amount of human participation needed to qualify for copyright protection is an open question that will likely take some time to get sorted out. For now, just know that if you use AI to create content for your law firm blog, it can’t be copyrighted, and you legally can’t stop anyone else from taking and using it. 
  • Hallucination: Just about all conversational AI programs can occasionally provide false or misleading information. This has been called “hallucinating,” and it happens because the AI system is predicting the next possible word and giving the most likely answer. The tendency of conversational AI to hallucinate may decrease over time as the technology improves, but even tech moguls have said AI hallucination may never go away entirely. The thing to remember here is that no matter how authoritative a conversational AI program may seem, you still need to review its output and apply your education, experience, and critical faculties as you determine if or how to use its material.  

How can I use AI to improve my small law firm’s marketing?

With its ability to trim away time-consuming tasks and jumpstart your creativity, AI offers many ways to enhance your law firm’s digital marketing plan, including: 

  • Proofreading: AI does a good job of spotting typos and pointing out turns of phrase that may be unclear. As long as you aren’t compromising client confidentiality, asking it to proofread your material can improve your copy. 
  • Content planning: This refers to creating a calendar of content you want to publish and when. For small law firms that run their own blogs or social media accounts, this is a good way to avoid the common mistake of publishing a lot of material at first and then running out of ideas. AI can help you come up with a strategy and timeline for content to write about and how to optimize it so that you can sustain timely, informative publication on your platforms — or you can hire a digital legal marketing vendor to lend a hand. 
  • Idea generation: AI doesn’t have your full knowledge of the actual practice of your area of law, so it may not be able to write from a place of experience like you can. However, it can suggest ideas for blog posts and social media copy. That’s at least a good start and can help you overcome the all-too-common problem of writer’s block. 
  • Improving client communication: When it comes to answering client questions, a straightforward response from a lawyer might not seem that way to a client who is unfamiliar with the legal process. AI can provide suggestions for making your responses warmer and more thoughtful, which clients might appreciate. 

For now, think of AI as a second set of eyes, a creative muse, and a very useful tool for crossing smaller items off your to-do list. Its utility will undoubtedly expand in time, and if your comfort level and ease of using it do, too, then you are in a great position to make the most of it.  

To stay on top of recent AI developments for legal products and tools, visit the Thomson Reuters hub on artificial intelligence. 

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