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How Your Law Firm Can Correctly Use AI in 2023

Written by Erik J. Olson on . Posted in , , .
Home > Blog > How Your Law Firm Can Correctly Use AI in 2023

As an attorney who enjoys writing content for your website, you have likely heard about artificial intelligence (AI) content generation platforms. AI content has the potential to completely change an attorney’s workflow. Imagine publishing dozens of pieces of content to your website each month. Is that something that you’ve wanted to try? Before starting your AI content journey, it’s quite important that you understand the likely risks first. Read through this guide to understand how to harness AI content generation platforms to your benefit.

The rise of artificial intelligence in digital marketing

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is certainly getting a lot of attention right now. Within the last few months, tools like Jasper.ai and ChatGPT have captured the attention of plenty of website owners who want the easiest and most efficient way to build content. There are several potential positives that can come from them.

Using machine learning, it’s possible for AI content generators to create content at a much faster pace than what you can expect from a human writer. These platforms promise to gather data from numerous sources to create a cohesive piece. Automation in the legal industry sorely lacks from other industries, and this could be a good way to amp up the amount of work a computer manages for you as a law firm.

Some of the most notable potential benefits of the use of AI for law firms may include the following:

  • Automatic content generation
  • Long-from content writing support
  • Numerous templates to select

You may already be using a form of AI right now.

For example, if you are using Grammarly, a tool that helps to go through your content to ensure you haven’t forgotten any of the rules taught to you in 5th-grade English class, you’re using a form of AI. You may be using the spell check feature in Google Docs or Microsoft Word to help you to navigate all of those complex legal phrases and legal industry terms. That’s close to what AI tools can do.

Siri and Alexa, who may be your best friend in the office when you’re trying to research a case from 20 years ago or just want some good music in the background, are also helpful AI-like tools. Siri is Apple’s virtual assistant, which you may be using on your iPhone or other Apple devices. It uses voice recognition to help answer your questions. AI is behind it.

For law firms, the use of automation and AI systems seems to make sense. It seems like a logical step in various ways. Yet, there’s more to know before you jump in and add it as an integral tool in your daily workflow.

How can AI help your law firm?

Within the legal profession, there are various ways that you can use AI in a beneficial manner. AI technology is a good way to help you speed up some of the tedious tasks that may take up too much of your time. It may help you to automate various aspects of your business. Here are a few ways AI technology is supporting the legal industry right now.

Keyword research

Using AI tools, you can gather more information on the keywords people are using to find the type of services you offer. It can help you find connections between the topics you want to write about and even make suggestions for you based on what content is out there. It can help to find connections between key topics and help make suggestions for what you can write about within your next blog post.

Website and link audits

Legal AI used in-house can help with managing a website and performing link audits on your site. That could help you with pinpointing problems or broken links on your site that could be limiting your overall ability to reach your audience. This net technology can help save time by handling that type of work in a matter of minutes.

Drafting content outlines

Another way to use an AI chatbot is to create outlines for the content you’re producing for your website or blog. While this could be helpful in getting content started, as any good attorney knows, due diligence matters. That is, you can use it to create an outline, but you’ll still need to review the content and suggested outline to ensure it applies to your firm and meets all of the legal requirements before moving forward.

Discovering new ideas

AI tools can also help you with some e-discovery. That is, it can help you to research points, develop new ideas, gather evidence for litigation, get some insight into what people are talking about, and offer ideas to help foster new content for your legal practice. You can then give these ideas to your writer, who can then provide you with far more accurate content to fit your specific needs.

If you’re struggling with writer’s block and you don’t get enough content up because you don’t know what to talk about, this can help you get through that pain point.

Legal AI is an interesting new technology, without a doubt. However, it’s important to know that it may not be the great disruptor that many people are claiming it to be. It’s not going to create legal documents for you, nor is it going to handle contract reviews. It can be a supportive assistant to help you with the drafting stages, but it does not alleviate an attorney’s responsibility of reviewing and editing work at length.

How does AI content differ from human-generated content?

AI content is a type of predictive content development tool. It works to gather information from multiple sources online and tries to organize it in a way that answers the questions posed. In short, it does some deep learning and then uses decision-making protocols to determine what to include in the content.

Human-generated content is different. It’s written by a human who has the ability to gather all of that information as well but can then craft it, massage it, and build it out in a way that does more than just communicates the facts.

Human-generated content is also more nuanced. It feels as though you’re talking to a human lawyer, not a chatbot. It includes phrases and unique language details that help to provide a unique perspective or may incorporate more natural phrasing that people connect with when learning or gathering information.

The natural language and better flow of human-generated content is not something to overlook in terms of benefit to your legal practice. It may be more time-consuming to write out your own piece, but it ensures that you are relating to your audience more effectively.

More so, many law firms need to be sure they are conveying information in a way that sets a particular tone. With natural language, it’s possible to do that, especially on a niche topic that’s important to your practice of law.

Major AI content issues for the legal profession

Generative AI simply cannot do many of the things that you can do as a human, as an attorney, and as a leader at your practice. It cannot do many of the most important components of content production, especially content that needs to be optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). Remember that the creation of content for your website and blog is ultimately designed to draw in potential clients, educate them, and get them to contact you. Without a strong SEO focus, Google won’t find your website, and without quality content, when they get there, they won’t take action.

Here’s a look at what ChatGPT says it can do and cannot do: It’s directly from the company, so you can see what limitations they impose directly.

ChatGPT Chat with AI Artificial Intelligence Adult man chatting with a smart AI or artificial intelligence using an artificial intelligence chatbot developed Futuristic technology transformation
ChatGPT Chat with AI Artificial Intelligence Adult man chatting with a smart AI or artificial intelligence using an artificial intelligence chatbot developed Futuristic technology transformation

Take a look at some of the more concerning areas that attorneys must focus on when considering the use cases for AI within their practice.

Blatant inaccuracies

Sometimes, AI in law is just wrong. CNET recently released a notice about its own content. It found that, out of 77 stories published using an AI tool, 41 of them had significant inaccuracies. It paused its use of AI tools as a result.

The use of OpenAI and other tools like this requires you to spend more of your time going back to verify the accuracy of every statement and claim. That means you need to go back through the content you just had the bot create for you to fix everything from the wrong terms to inaccurate legal facts and even spelling issues. The burden of fact-checking is on your shoulders.

Overloaded servers

For many who want to use this tool within their practice, perhaps to explain legal services or provide content on when to hire general counsel, there’s a big concern. You may not be able to create the content you need when you desire. That’s because ChatGPT and other AI tools have been so overloaded that there’s limited access for those who are using them. In some cases, it’s unavailable for hours at a time. If you want to rely heavily on AI for your content production – like those tens of pieces you want to launch each month – you may find it’s simply not possible to do during normal working hours.

In fact, during our own internal research of the platform in March 2023, we received the following message during most of the workday several times each week.

ChatGBPT at capacity screen

Inability to create new ideas

One of the most fascinating components of legal work (and working with attorneys in general) is the way they think. AI’s algorithms are designed to pick up on the content that’s already out there on the web. It isn’t creating new ideas in the way that a human could.

AI is not necessarily capable of producing new ideas or engaging in productive argumentation. Rather, it’s like going through law school and only being able to recite back the facts provided to you rather than taking those laws, pulling out information, and analyzing them.

Instead of authentic information and insights, it compiles information from the web and summarizes the findings.

Here’s another obstacle to consider. The legal industry changes. How much has the legal field and laws changed since you became an attorney? More so, to stand out in the legal industry, you need to create thought leadership or high-quality content that reflects on your experience, insights, and the legal advice you provide to your clients, not just a list of facts.

This sets precedents for your firm and helps clients better understand what you can bring to the table rather than just the same facts they can find with a simple search.

Limited ability to include valuable secondary keywords

Another significant limitation legal providers must consider is the limitations on optimized keyword research. Though this is something that has been talked about by many of the startup entrepreneurs behind these AI tools, there are big gaps here.

For example, AI can help with some keyword research. It can find common ideas among your competitor’s content. It can present this information to you. However, it consistently fails to connect these common ideas in a structure that is directly useful to the reader.

Poor and no integration with leading SEO tools

Many of our clients are already using some fantastic SEO tools to help them rank well in the search engines. That may include tools like Moz, Semrush, Ahrefs, and others. These tools are, in our opinion, critical to building a strong website presence that meets the algorithms put in place by Google. Unfortunately, many of the AI platforms do not incorporate access to these, which limits your overall ability to be hands-off in content creation. In the best case, you have to go back and make adjustments to the content so that it meets your SEO goals.

Unnatural and repetitive language

We all know from law school that legal content is complex and has never really been easy to read. However, one of the most important concerns you should have in the legal field if you plan to use AI tools is that you simply will not create a quality piece.

Array Digital’s team tested several of these tools recently. We found that AI platforms usually degrade severely any time we need to write a piece that is more than 500 words. That is, after about 500 words, these tools just continue to repeat themselves and state the same sentences continuously. They simply cannot create content that’s truly valuable enough to be worthy of our attorneys’ websites.

This is not useful for legal SEO-optimized content, which is typically long-form content that’s 1,000 words or longer to be thorough. If you want to rank well, you need high-quality, comprehensive, long-form content, not just content that’s limitedly valuable for about 500 words.

Plagiarism

We’re not providing legal advice here, but we will make it clear so that you can interpret this risk as an attorney. These bots do not create new content but rather fetch it from various sources. In effect, they are plagiarizing content. This is detrimental to all industries.

It is particularly worrisome within the legal industry. You know the laws regarding intellectual property, and no law firm can put itself at risk from such claims.

Interestingly, we reviewed a variety of tools to get a better idea of how they worked. Not only did we create content using AI tools, but then we ran it through other tools that detect AI content. Confused? In short, these secondary tools can show if the content was human-written or AI-generated. Yet, even these tools have been found to be inaccurate time and time again. After all, they are AI tools grading AI content. What we do find is that there’s a significant amount of plagiarized content – information, ideas, and even full sentences taken from other websites incorporated into the content. And the AI checkers will often fail to recognize this.

That’s worrisome.

More is not always better

Cranking out tons of content every month may be the true goal for many attorneys turning to AI, but that’s not a valid reason to use these tools in itself. Having tons of new content does not mean you’ll dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Your content has to be high-quality. That’s why at Array Digital, we frequently talk about E-E-A-T:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

Google added the “experience” component to this in late 2022, and many have yet to see the importance of that. Google’s goal is to direct searchers to quality content. To do that, it must understand just how valuable the content on a website is. It uses the E-E-A-T standard as a way of evaluating that information.

Here’s another concern. Publishing at extreme velocities can look suspicious to Google. Remember, value matters, and tons of new content isn’t going to convince Google that your site is better than a human-written, highly detailed site with valuable, unique information.

AI content’s impact on SEO

AI content is such a recent topic that there are a lot of unknowns. We don’t know how the search engines will sort this type of content or how it can impact SEO in general. In April of 2022, Google announced that AI content violates its webmaster guidelines. However, Google seems to have developed a shifting stance on this issue in February 2023. Instead, now, they don’t seem to be for or against its use.

The way AI tools are used in content creation changes the quality of the content. We expect to see several updates in this area over time.

How does Google detect AI content?

How is the search engine even going to know you’re using AI? There are numerous AI detection tools out there (we briefly mentioned these above). OpenAI, the company that launched ChatGPT, has an AI classifier tool that says it can detect if a piece was automatically generated or written by a human.

Google isn’t sharing the specific parameters it’s using for AI detection. However, it certainly can identify content that was generated or written by a human. Take a look at some of the insights into how easy it can be to detect AI content.

Historically, Google penalizes websites that use huge amounts of SEO-focused content, like those old days of keyword stuffing. Even if Google does not penalize sites using pure AI content (yet), the bounce rates for those sites will surely increase. That means that even if it gets people to your site, those readers aren’t likely to stick around and connect with you.

AI content, then, may produce a short-term gain for a lawyer’s website, a bit of a boost in getting some more traffic. That is, until they are penalized. Then, the traffic to your site plunges far below what it once was. In short, it worsens your position.

Research indicates that sites that do not use AI perform better than those that do. This is true for law firms.

Overcoming other law firms using AI

Your competitors may be using AI for their content. So, how are you going to stay ahead of them?

Be original

AI formulates content by gathering information from what’s already out there, not new content, ideas, and inspiration. When you discuss a recent legal case or developments with a new law, you need to inject as much original thought into it as possible. Ensure your content is truly unique.

Be meticulous

Read your content through with a fine-tooth comb. Make sure it’s perfect. Get rid of all of the spelling and grammar errors that readers will notice.

Keep your audience in mind

Write content for your audience specifically. Human readers want to hear from a human attorney who is providing them with authentic information and support. They don’t want content that’s generated for SEO purposes only. As an attorney, it’s critical that you write content that engages with your readers and answers their legal questions.

Bottom line: AI content might harm your law firm more than it would help

As an attorney, you know the value of legal research. At Array Digital, we want you to know what goes into ranking well in the search engines and creating a website that’s truly beneficial to your law firm. With our additional research and true hard work in understanding how AI could help or hurt our clients, we’ve found that there’s just too much risk of harm.

We encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with developments in AI and how these changes will affect your firm in the coming years. Furthermore, we’re happy to share our internal research regarding AI content if you give us a call!

If you want to discuss content or get some help with your website, our founders and strategists are available to provide a preliminary audit for your website.

Contact Array Digital today at 757-333-3021 or fill out our contact form now to get in touch with us.

Written By Erik J. Olson
Founder & CEO
Erik J. Olson is the Founder & CEO of Array Digital—a marketing agency that enables its clients to achieve their dreams, fulfill their missions, and impact more lives with their services.

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