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Law Practice Today

March 2024

How to Start Using AI

Julie Owsik Ackerman and Dan Martin

Summary

  • Using Generative AI can help lawyers improve the marketing of their practice.
  • Learning how to use Generative AI is fairly simple, and your skills improve with practice.
  • Generative AI is especially useful in repurposing content to use in multiple places.
How to Start Using AI
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Since ChatGPT can pass the bar exam, are the robots coming for our jobs?

We don’t think so. But AI is already changing the practice of law, and it will continue to do so. Rather than hiding from that reality, let’s learn how to use this powerful tool to make work and life more enjoyable.

Generative AI (GenAI) has the potential to take over the rote, soul-sucking aspects of your job, freeing you up to do the interesting work. It can also help you work on those tasks that get pushed down the to-do list, such as marketing.

Using GenAI for marketing your firm is a safe way to explore this new technology while we develop ethical guidelines and learn how it handles private information.

What Is GenAI?

It may seem that artificial intelligence appeared out of nowhere in November 2022 with the debut of ChatGPT, but, in fact, we have all been using AI every day for years. How does Spotify know what music to suggest for you? How do Siri and Alexa have conversations with you? Through AI.

Generative AI is what burst into the national consciousness with the debut of ChatGPT. GenAI is a type of AI that generates new, original content. ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM), which is a complex computer program that understands and generates human-like text.

Imagine GenAI as someone who has read and retained every piece of text ever written in the history of humankind. It uses its understanding of patterns, nuances, and the structure of language to complete tasks like crafting eye-catching email subjects, creating outlines for blog posts, drafting LinkedIn posts, and more.

How to Get Started

Since getting started can be the hardest part, we broke it down into doable actions.

  1. Go to chat.openai.com; and create an account.
  2. Do some trial chats. Think of something you hate to do, such as writing a polite email to someone you dislike or finding the right hashtags for a social media post. Start asking questions and see what happens. There is no substitute for hands-on learning.
  3. Now that you have an account and you’ve done some chats, keep reading for some simple tips to get even better results.

Tips and Tricks to Make AI Work for You

Prompt engineering is the term that describes the process of creating effective prompts for GenAI. Here are a few basics:

1. Give context. Think of the massive amount of information the AI is sorting through to answer your question. Giving some context helps guide it to the right general place you want it to use.

Begin the prompt with, “You are a plaintiff’s employment lawyer with 20 years of experience.”

2. Give clear and specific directions. To your context add instructions. The entire prompt will be: “You are a plaintiff’s employment lawyer with 20 years of experience. Write 8 to 10 questions for an FAQ section about your discrimination practice.”

3. Think of it as a conversation. You are unlikely to get something you can use after your first prompt. This is an iterative process, much like working with a more junior lawyer or paralegal. You ask for something; read what it produces; give it feedback; repeat as needed.

After reading the 8 to 10 FAQ questions generated by the prompt, you will very likely want changes.

You can say, “Make it more specific to age discrimination.”

Or, “Simplify the language” or “Make this more engaging” or “Use legal terminology.”

There is no magic formula, but by experimenting you will start to get a feel for how it works and how it can help you.

Three Ways to Use GenAI for Legal Marketing

With these experiments, tips, and tools under your belt, let’s put AI to work for you. Here are three ways to start using ChatGPT for your legal marketing today.

Content Inspiration

Not sure what to write or post about? Fire up your favorite GenAI to get the wheels turning.

Blog posts: GenAI can help you write a first draft of a post, and if you’re not sure what to write about, it can help you come up with a list of topics.

Suggested prompt: You are a plaintiff's employment lawyer with 20 years experience. Give me five blog topics directed at employees who have been discriminated against because of their age.

LinkedIn bio and headline: Paste your resume into your fave GenAI, prompt it to “create a LinkedIn bio using this resume.” Then play with the results. “Make it funny” or “Make it more professional,” etc.

“About Us” page: Paste your current About Us info into GenAI. Ask it to make the info more compelling. Or ask it to suggest changes to improve the SEO.

Be creative. But be sure to review and revise the output. 

Content Repurposing

You have probably heard the advice to take one piece of content and turn it into other pieces. But who has the time?

With your new friend GenAI, you can easily repurpose content in a few minutes.

For instance, if you drop a podcast on Friday, you can use GenAI to repurpose the transcript into a blog post and to create social media posts relevant to the podcast. What was just one marketing asset in the podcast now turns into three or four.

You can use it to break up longer pieces of content into bite-sized assets. Suppose you have a long-form (1200+ words) blog post or resource. It’s performed well, but it’s been a few weeks or months since that content has been touched.

Place that post into GenAI and ask for short-form content pieces. That could result in LinkedIn posts about the resource or a script for YouTube or TikTok.

Never limit yourself to just one legal alert or one blog post. One asset can be used in a variety of ways, and GenAI can help.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Even if you know very little about SEO, you likely have a sense that it’s important. And you’re right, it is. SEO is a way to help your website appear higher on search lists. AI can help you improve your website’s SEO on your own, even without extensive knowledge or outside services.

One way AI can improve SEO is by optimizing your content keywords.

Suggested prompt: “You are a workers’ comp lawyer. Write a blog post about safety at work. The target keyword is safety incident. The content should be 1200 words or more. Do not ask questions, do not repeat yourself.”

GenAI is also useful for sprucing up old blog posts. Take a piece of content from your site that was really performing well, paste it into your favorite GenAI, and ask the robots to provide an update on the content.

Suggested prompt: “You are an employment lawyer with 20 years of experience. Expand on the following content. The target audience is small business owners in North Dakota.”

Concerns about AI

GenAI has great power and the potential to transform your marketing, but it also has limitations and pitfalls.

With an AI tool, keep in mind:

1. How up to date is the info?

GenAI tool might be pulling up to the minute information, for example, free Chat-GPT (GPT 3.5) and GPT-4 are knowledgeable up to September 2021. The company will soon release an update, GPT4-Turbo, which will be knowledgeable as of December 2023. Microsoft Copilot is knowledgeable until 2021. Google Gemini is updated to the current day, but warns it may be using out of date information.

Whichever GenAI you are using, be sure you know this information so you can fact-check accordingly.

2. Ethical guidelines

The laws and ethical guidelines about artificial intelligence are evolving. As of today, the Rules of Professional Conduct of each state govern lawyer behavior with respect to AI, including the duty of confidentiality, duty of competence, and duty to supervise lawyers and nonlawyers, among others.

In addition, states are creating task forces and issuing proposed advisory opinions and guidance documents specifically about the use of AI in the practice of law. Florida and California have issued guidance; New Jersey, Texas, and the American Bar Association have created task forces and others will surely follow suit.

3. Privacy and confidentiality

OpenAI models are designed to get better over time, so they regularly update the GenAI using feedback from its users:

When you share your content with us, it helps our models become more accurate and better at solving your specific problems and it also helps improve their general capabilities and safety. We don’t use your content to market our services or create advertising profiles of you—we use it to make our models more helpful. ChatGPT, for instance, improves by further training on the conversations people have with it, unless you opt out. (Open AI Help)

We recommend you practice responsible GenAI. Don’t put anything confidential, proprietary, or personal into the tool. You can also opt out as an added measure. 

4. Accuracy and hallucination

GenAI is not perfect. It can provide incorrect or misleading information. In an extreme example, Chat-GPT created a fake case law. For instance, it would not know that the Chiefs just won the Super Bowl. Again.

A conversation with ChatGPT.

A conversation with ChatGPT.

Julie Owsik Ackerman and Dan Martin

Sometimes the AI will tell you it does not know, but sometimes it will make up an answer, or hallucinate. As always it’s best practice to review all GenAI outputs to ensure accuracy. For now, humans know better than robots.

The Future of GenAI and Legal Marketing

The future is here, but this is only the beginning. Lawyers can and should play a role in addressing concerns about AI involving bias, confidentiality, and privacy. Lawyers can also harness the great power of this technology for the good of their practice, clients, and, ultimately, society.

There are many trainings available for using GenAI, and some even count toward CLE. Start experimenting with the tools on your own, attend some training sessions, and stay curious.

Embracing AI is not just about adopting technology; it's about reclaiming time for creativity and strategic thinking in a field where every moment counts.

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