California Bar Issues Guidance for Lawyers Using AI

Generative AI, such as Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini (previously called “Bard”), are capable of performing tasks that were once thought solely to be in the province of human ability. It can analyze and categorize data and even create human-sounding content in the form of text. As such, generative AI has clear applications in the practice of law and legal marketing. Some of the more obvious uses include document review, contract analysis, and even handling basic client communications.

As lawyers and other professionals have started looking for ways to leverage Generative AI to do their jobs more efficiently, many observers have sounded alarm bells about ethical and professional issues about how it is used.

In fact, some of the early adopters of Generative AI in the legal profession have been subject to sanctions, as the technology is known to “hallucinate” facts. In the case of two New York lawyers, ChatGPT made up case law out of thin air and then doubled down on its existence when asked to verify the cases it cited. Ultimately, the attorneys were each fined $5,000 and ordered to reach out to the judges about the fake cases mentioned. Perhaps worse, their names were splashed all over the national media – from Forbes to CNN – for using ChatGPT and not fact-checking its output.

A year and a few months into generative AI entering the mainstream, state bars are starting to develop guidance and rules regarding how lawyers use it. Given the concerns and uncertainties regarding the use of AI in the legal profession, this guidance is particularly valuable in helping attorneys leverage the efficiency of AI while upholding ethical duties. Recently, California issued guidance that lawyers across the United States can benefit from. I discuss some of the highlights in the material below.

The California Bar Guidance

As part of its guidance, the California Bar takes the position that AI is like any other technology that attorneys may leverage in their day-to-day professional activities. From the guidance:

Like any technology, generative AI must be used in a manner that conforms to a lawyer’s professional responsibility obligations, including those set forth in the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act.

The guidance they provide demonstrates ways that lawyers can use AI consistently with their professional responsibility obligations. Some of the obligations they address are discussed in the material below.

Duty of Confidentiality

The California Bar cautions that the use of AI can have implications related to the disclosure of confidential information. The guidance points out that many generative AI models use inputs to train the AI further and the information that users upload may be shared with third parties. In addition, the models may lack adequate security for attorneys to input confidential information.

For this reason, the Bar advises that lawyers should not input any confidential information without first confirming the model they are using has sufficient confidentiality and security protections. Furthermore, the Bar advises lawyers to consult with IT professionals 

to confirm that an AI model adheres to security protocols and also carefully review the Terms of Use or other provisions.

Duties of Competence and Diligence

The use of generative AI also can raise issues related to the duties of competence and diligence. In light of the fact that these models can produce false or misleading information, the California Bar advises that lawyers must:

  • Ensure competent use of the technology and apply diligence and prudence with respect to facts and law
  • Understand to a reasonable degree how the technology works and its limitations
  • Carefully scrutinize outputs for accuracy and bias

In addition, the Bar cautions that overreliance on AI is inconsistent with the active practice of law and application of trained judgment by an attorney. Furthermore, the guidance advises that an attorney’s professional judgment cannot be delegated to AI.

Duty to Supervise Lawyers and Non-lawyers, Responsibilities of Subordinate Lawyers

The Bar advises that supervisory and managerial attorneys should establish clear policies regarding the use of generative AI. In addition, they should make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm adopts measures that provide reasonable assurance that its lawyers’ and non-lawyers’ conduct complies with professional obligations when using generative AI. This includes training on how to use AI and the ethical implications of using AI.

Using AI Can Also Have Implications for Law Firm Marketing

At Lexicon Legal Content, our sole focus is on generating keyword-rich content that helps law firms connect with their clients. While the California Bar’s guidance does not mention it directly, using generative AI to create marketing materials like social media or blog posts may also have implications related to the rules of professional conduct.

Under California Rule 7.1, a lawyer may not make a false statement about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services, and a statement is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law. Importantly, this is analogous to ABA Model Rule 7.1, which many states have adopted. In addition, under Model Rule 7.2, a lawyer should not call themselves a specialist or expert in any area of law unless they have been certified by an appropriate authority of the state or the District of Columbia or a U.S. Territory or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association.

These professional duties related to advertising make it critical to review any AI output a law firm intends to use in its marketing efforts. At Lexicon Legal Content, we are staffed by experienced legal professionals, including law school graduates and licensed attorneys, who understand these rules and ensure that all of the content we create – whether AI-assisted or not – is in compliance with advertising regulations in our clients’ states.

How Creating Content Can Help Law Firms Connect with Clients 

If you’ve researched how to market a law firm (or any business, for that matter) online, you have undoubtedly come across advice telling you to create and post more content. When I first got into this business more than a decade ago and was told that a website “needed content,” I assumed they meant images and other visual elements. I guess it had never occurred to me that someone was actually writing all of the words on the site and that those words had a significant impact on how well the site performed in searches for particular queries. 

Generally, content refers to any media that conveys information, whether it’s written text, video, or audio. The internet has an insatiable appetite for it, and creating good content has the power to connect your legal practice with new clients and provide a substantial ROI. 

The Right Content Can Improve Your Rankings in the SERPs 

From a technical standpoint, content has the ability to get your firm in front of new clients by improving how well your website ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Studies show that websites with more content tend to rank better, and the more pages and blogs you have, the wider you can cast your net for potential internet queries.  

For example, it’s all well and good to have a “Motor Vehicle Accidents” page on your website, but if you drill down into car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrians accidents, etc., you have a better chance of appearing in searches made by injured clients. 

Your Content Should Demonstrate E-E-A-T 

While Google doesn’t make its search algorithm public, it is clear about what it wants from content. In order for content to rank well on the search engine, it needs to demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trust (E-E-A-T). This is especially true for pages that could have an impact on a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety – commonly referred to as Your Money or Your Life pages (YMYL).  

How can your law firm content pages demonstrate E-E-A-T? 

  • Make sure readers can verify the information on your site. For example, if you discuss a statutory legal provision, link to an official .gov source. 
  • Create a robust About Us page that highlights the attorneys in your firm. Include information about where they went to law school, community involvement, notable case results (if permitted by your state bar), publications, and other biographical information. 
  • Make sure your content provides value to the reader. 
  • Create content for people first, not search engines. That said, be sure to follow SEO best practices regarding website content. 

It’s Important to Keep Your Content Fresh 

Importantly, you can’t just create a piece of content that initially shoots to the top of the SERPs and just rest on your proverbial laurels. Content “freshness” is a confirmed ranking factor, and I’ve personally seen our own pieces of content go straight to the top of the rankings for high-volume queries and drop over time as other pieces outrank it.  

It’s important to regularly produce high-quality content of interest to your potential clients in order to maintain your SEO rankings. In addition, repetition of your message is key. That isn’t to say you should post the same content over and over again – in fact, Google will ignore it if you do. It’s also not about saying the same thing in hundreds of different ways. It’s about repeating the message – specifically, that you can help people with certain types of legal problems – within the context of providing useful information. 

For example, if you are a DUI defense lawyer, you might want to produce blog content titled: 

  • Do I Need a Lawyer for My First DUI? 
  • What are the Penalties for a First DUI? 
  • Is a First-TIme DUI Serious? What are the Defenses to a First-TIme DUI? 
  • How Long Should I Wait to Call a Lawyer after a DUI Arrest? 
  • How Can a DUI Lawyer Help Me? 
  • DUI FAQs 

This list could go on and on. While all of this content should be unique, it should also ultimately focus on why the reader needs legal counsel and how a lawyer can help. The more content you create, the wider the net you are casting to connect with your potential clients. 

Content Can Establish Your Firm as a Thought Leader 

While improving your site’s positioning in the results is certainly a worthwhile goal in and of itself, regularly creating content can also establish your firm as a thought leader in your practice areas. By positioning your website as a go-to source for information, you can increase your firm’s standing in your community and develop a reputation as a subject matter expert. 

Doing so can lead to other forms of exposure, as well. An owner of a well-regarded PI marketing agency recently quipped to me that “talking about yourself is great, but having other people talk about you is better.” 

When you create lots of content about things you know about, you increase the chances that you are going to be quoted in publications, asked to do an interview for your local news, invited on a podcast, or asked to speak at an event. In other words, content can turn into exposure, which in turn can lead to tons of new business and opportunities. 

Put Your Content Out There 

Relatedly, you should explore multiple channels in your content marketing efforts. Posting on your own site is great for your SEO and builds authority, but look for other places to publish things that you create. For example, I regularly publish in Attorney at Work and Attorney at Law Magazine and am always looking for new places where our potential clients may be lurking online to publish. 

As a B2B business, we focus on publications that are read by legal professionals. For a law firm that works with individuals, you may consider publishing content on other law firms’ websites, local newspapers, news websites, or websites of interest to your target clientele.  

Not only does publishing content on other sites increase its reach, but it also results in more backlinks, which can significantly improve your site’s SEO. You can think of backlinks as “votes of confidence” for your website, and the more you have, the more relevant your site is in the eyes of Google. 

Creating Great Content Takes Time and Effort 

It’s clear that a modern law firm needs to engage in regular content creation in order to stay competitive in the digital marketing space. Unfortunately, creating content takes a significant amount of time. And it’s not just the actual writing that takes time. In order to regularly create content that ranks, you need to:

  • Engage in keyword research 
  • Come up with content topics 
  • Optimize your content for SEO 
  • Post your content and engage in on-site optimization best practices 
  • Promote your content on social media and other channels 

As a busy practicing lawyer, there is a good chance that you simply don’t have the time to either learn how to be a content marketer or create the content itself. Fortunately, the attorney-led team at Lexicon Legal Content is available to help. We create optimized blogs, practice area pages, FAQs, e-books, video scripts, and other forms of content designed to improve your website’s rankings in the SERPs and get your potential clients to pick up the phone. Contact us today to learn more.

ChatGPT for Law Firm Content: Best Practices

ChatGPT and other generative AI models are set to revolutionize many industries, including law. While there are certainly practice-related use cases for AI, such as legal research or contract analysis, ChatGPT also has clear applications in the business of law, such as in creating marketing materials.

One of the most effective legal marketing channels in recent years has been content marketing, which involves the creation of content (such as blogs, social media posts, videos, and white papers) to gain brand awareness and connect with potential clients. Think of it this way; if someone Googles “How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?” and lands on your blog, there’s a good chance they’ll pick up the phone to call you or shoot you an email.

ChatGPT and other generative AI models can create reasonably good content in seconds. As a result, it’s no surprise that many law firms and their marketing teams have been looking into whether they can use AI to create law firm marketing content at scale.

Can You Use ChatGPT to Create Law Firm Content?

First things first – as we’ve said before, you can certainly use ChatGPT to create law firm content, provided there is significant expert oversight. You can use ChatGPT to create law firm content the same way you can using Grammarly, Jasper, or any other AI-based tool on the market. That said, there are some substantial and worrisome problems with relying on AI to create law firm content without substantial human review. They include the following:

  • ChatGPT and other LLM AIs are known to hallucinate information. In other words, AIs confidently output incorrect facts when they do not “know” the information they need to generate an accurate response. For a cautionary tale, all you need to do is consider the two New York attorneys who faced stiff sanctions for submitting a brief citing nonexistent case law after relying on ChatGPT for legal research.
  • ChatGPT often creates very similar-sounding content to similar queries. As a result, the content it generates is unlikely to stand out as demonstrating high experience, expertise, authority, and trust (E-E-A-T), which is critical to a high-quality page. In fact, based on how its creators trained it, its output is average by design.
  • According to guidance issued by the United States Copyright Office, you do not have any intellectual property interest in content generated by ChatGPT or any other generative AI without “sufficient human authorship.”

These problems notwithstanding, you can certainly use ChatGPT or other generative AI models to speed up the content creation process. What you can’t do in legal marketing is ask ChatGPT to give you a blog on a legal topic and then copy and paste the output onto your website.

So, how can lawyers and marketing teams use ChatGPT to create law firm content? Here are some best practices to ensure that you create accurate, unique, and rules of professional conduct-compliant content for your law firm website.

Use the Right Prompts

Using ChatGPT involves “prompting” the model to provide an output. Here’s how ChatGPT itself describes what prompting is:

Prompts can be long or short. As general rule, the more complex you want the output to be, the longer the prompt should be. So, for example, let’s say you wanted to update your website to advertise the fact that you were taking Chapter 7 cases. Here’s a reasonably detailed prompt you could use:

Pretty good, right? That said, you may not like the word “compassionate” to describe your firm. Furthermore, the assertion that the firm’s attorneys will work “tirelessly to eliminate your debts” could be construed to be promising a specific outcome and violative of the advertising rules in your jurisdiction. So, even with good prompt engineering, you still need to be sure to…

Read Every Word

If you are using ChatGPT to create law firm content, you (or a qualified expert) must read every word of its output. ChatGPT can provide nonsensical answers and does not really “know” anything. In addition, it sometimes blatantly disregards the instructions in the prompt. As a result, even if you tell it not to use the word “expert” or “specialist,” it may do so. Posting AI-generated content without sufficient review could lead to posting inaccurate, poorly worded, or even non-compliant content on your website.

Double Check Any Factual Statements or Statements of Law

While you are reading every word, make sure to verify any factual statements or legal assertions that the AI makes. ChatGPT has a knowledge cutoff date of September 2021. As a result, it may provide outdated information. Erin Fitzgerald of Lexicon Legal Content recently posted a a blog highlighting this point. While experimenting with ChatGPT, she recently discovered that it insists that the statute of limitations in Florida for personal injury is 4 years despite being lowered to 2 years in early 2023.

In addition, ChatGPT will simply make up facts if it does not know them. In the case of the New York lawyers who used ChatGPT for legal research, the AI fabricated Varghese v. China Southern Airlines Co., Ltd. Not only did it fabricate Varghese, it also fabricated cases that the nonexistent Varghese “court” used to reach its opinion! Perhaps most frighteningly, when the attorney  – Steven A. Schwartz of Levidow, Levidow & Oberman – asked if the cases were real, the ChatBot replied that they were. As reported by Ars Technica:

Schwartz provided an excerpt from ChatGPT queries in which he asked the AI tool whether Varghese is a real case. ChatGPT answered that it “is a real case” and “can be found on legal research databases such as Westlaw and LexisNexis.” When asked if the other cases provided by ChatGPT are fake, it answered, “No, the other cases I provided are real and can be found in reputable legal databases such as LexisNexis and Westlaw.”

The moral of the story: if you use ChatGPT as a tool in law firm content creation, verify everything.

Make it Your Own

Now that you’re sure that your content is accurate and up-to-date, you should brand it to your law firm. On a fundamental level, ChatGPT uses its training data to predict what word should come next. As a result, the content it creates tends to be generic. You should revise the content to reflect your brand’s voice and marketing messaging.

Now that you’re sure you have accurate content that reflects your law firm the way you want it to, it’s time to optimize your content. Optimizing content for search involves:

  • Adding keyword phrases at an appropriate density
  • Using appropriate header tags for your title and subheadings
  • Adding internal links to other pages on your website
  • Adding external links to authoritative sources
  • Making your content easy to scan

Post Your Content and Engage in On-Site Optimization

At this point, it’s time to post your content and engage in some basic on-site SEO. Assuming your content is a blog post, you should copy and paste the content into a “new post” on the backend of your website, ensuring that the formatting is correctly transferred from the platform you were writing on to your website. Next, you should:

  • Find an appropriate image for your post (posts with images get 94 percent more engagement))
  • Add an alt tag to the image describing it with text
  • Write a custom meta description
  • Categorize and tag your post

 At this point, your blog is ready for posting. Once it’s posted, as a final step, you should submit it to Google Search Console to ensure it is indexed as soon as possible.

What Else Can Lawyers Use ChatGPT For?

Using ChatGPT and other generative AI models to create content can be risky for obvious reasons. That said, there are certainly other ways that lawyers can use ChatGPT for certain practice and marketing-related tasks. Some of the more obvious use cases of ChatGPT for lawyers include:

  • Content topic ideation
  • Responding to emails
  • Legal research (remember to double-check any cases or laws it cites)
  • Analyzing and summarizing documents
  • Drafting legal documents

Interested in ChatGPT for Law Firm Content? Call Lexicon Today

At Lexicon Legal Content, we have been creating content for law firms and marketing agencies for over a decade. We are presently experimenting with integrating AI into our content creation workflows to improve efficiency while still creating the same accurate and compelling legal content. That said, we are still offering our 100-percent human-written content and are transparent with our clients about how we’re using generative AI.

 To discuss your law firm content needs with a legal content marketing expert, call our office today or contact us online.

What’s the Point of Law Firm Blogging, Anyway?

If you have done research on how to market a law firm online – or any business, for that matter – you’ve undoubtedly come across articles advising you to create content and blog regularly. While it is certainly true that this is good advice, the reality is that many of these articles don’t address the why of blogging. 

If you are just creating content, throwing it at the proverbial wall, and seeing what sticks, it’s not going to provide the results you want.  Understanding why you are blogging is important to doing it well, creating content that your potential clients want to read, and also determining what resources you should devote to it. 

If you are just starting out and have time on your hands, learning how to blog may be a good investment. On the other hand, if you’ve got a busy practice or don’t have the desire to learn all the ins and outs of proper blogging, it’s probably best to outsource your content creation efforts to professional legal content writers.

Let’s explore some of the reasons it’s so important for law firms to maintain an active blog as part of their digital marketing efforts – and how to do it well.

Establishing Yourself and Your Firm as a Thought Leader

Writing authoritative content on legal topics related to your practice area allows you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. If you are the go-to source of information in a given practice area or sub-area, it can significantly bolster your online presence and increase traffic to your site. More traffic coupled with an optimized website can translate into new clients, referrals from other firms, and more professional opportunities. Creating new, engaging, and novel content may lead to speaking engagements, media appearances, or other publicity that can grow your practice exponentially.

Targeting Long-Tail Keywords

Blogging is a great opportunity to target long-tail keywords –  longer keyword phrases that have lower search volume, are less competitive to rank for, and more likely to convert. Here’s a visual representation of what long  long-tail keywords are published by Ahrefs:

So, if you’re optimizing your practice area pages for search terms like “Chicago car accident attorney,” you can use your blog to go after long-tail terms like:

  • What should I do after a car accident?
  • Do I need a lawyer after a car crash?
  • How much is my car wreck case worth?
  • Car crash FAQs
  • How to deal with the insurance company after a car accident?

If you can match your blog titles to specific questions that your potential clients are searching for on Google, there is a good chance that you’ll appear near the top of the search results, driving more traffic – and paying clients – to your site.

One of the more technical – and overlooked – benefits of law firm blogging is attracting backlinks.  Backlinks are links to your site from other sites, and they are also often referred to as “inbound” or “incoming links. Here’s a visual representation:

The reason you want to attract backlinks is that they are one of the most important ranking factors used by Google. You can think of them as a vote of confidence for your website. The more backlinks you have from other sites, the better your website should rank for important keywords. 

Importantly, not all backlinks are the same. Sites from high-quality, popular, and authoritative sites are “worth” more than links from low-quality, low-traffic, and spammy sites. For example, you are going to get a lot more value from a link from cnbc.com than you would from someone’s personal travel blog.

You can attract backlinks to your site by creating high-quality, engaging, and authoritative blog content that others want to link to. 

Creating Good Content and Managing a Law Firm Blog Takes Time – or Money

As is the case with many things, it’s much easier to talk about blogging than it is to actually do it.  Creating content alone takes long enough, but that’s only a small part of what it takes to actively maintain and optimize a legal blog that generates new business.

Topic Ideation

First of all, you need to figure out what to write  about. Remember to focus on things that matter to your potential clients, not what matters to other lawyers or judges. While you may be super-interested in practice tips and new developments in the law, the reality is that your clients aren’t. 

For example, if you practice in family law, your potential clients are likely concerned about issues like whether they are going to be able to keep their kids or how child custody is decided. Similarly, if you practice in personal injury law, they are most concerned about things like how much their cases are worth or how long it will take to get compensation.

If you are having trouble coming up with blog topic ideas, think about the conversations you have with your clients. What questions do you hear again and again? Shameless plug: you can also turn to Lexicon Legal Content’s free AI Blog Topic Generator for ideas.

Content Creation

Now that you know what to write about, it’s time to sit down and write some content. Remember to write for your readers – not other lawyers and judges. This means avoiding legalese and making the content easy to read. Use informative headers, bulleted lists, and other visual elements that make the content easy to scan.

Optimize Your Content for Search Engines

Once you have your ideas on the page, you need to optimize your content for search engines. If you are targeting particular keywords (and you should be), you should make sure that keyword appears at a density of between 2-3 percent. 

Use appropriate header tags so that search engines are easily able to crawl your content. For example, make sure your title is formatted as H1, subheadings as H2, sub-subheadings as H3, and so on. Additionally, be sure to include links to authoritative external resources and internal links to other pages on your site. Finally, be sure to include a call to action that lets your reader know how to contact you.

Post Your Content on Your Site (and Optimize Your Post)

Now that you’ve got your blog post written and optimized, you should post it on your site. To do this, go to the back end of your website (your Dashboard, if you are using WordPress), and create a new post. Copy and paste your content into the appropriate area, and make sure the spacing between paragraphs and headers is correct – going between Word or Google Docs and WordPress can result in formatting issues.

Next, you should find and add an image to your post. You can find images on sites like pixabay or istock. Add an appropriate image to your site, and then add an alt-attribute to that image. An alt-attribute is text that is displayed if the image can’t be loaded or your site is accessed by someone who is visually impaired and using a screen reader. 

You should also categorize and tag your post in order to help both people and search engines find your content. Categories are a way to create a hierarchical organization of your content, and tags are a way to group content on similar topics together.

Promote Your Post

Now that you’ve got a live blog post, it’s time to promote it. You can do this is a variety of ways, including sharing your post on social media or sending it out to your email list of former, current, or potential clients. In addition, you can always ask your colleagues to share your post on their social media accounts for even more exposure.

Regularly creating and posting blog content takes a significant amount of time. Fortunately, if you are a busy practicing lawyer, you can outsource the entire process to the legal professionals at Lexicon Legal Content. As an attorney-led team, we understand the need for legal accuracy in law firm marketing materials. In addition, we’ve got the SEO chops to create high-ranking content that drives new business.

Should AI-Generated Content Be Watermarked?

Since November of 2022, the world has been captivated by ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot created by OpenAI. ChatGPT’s meteoric rise in popularity  – reaching 100 million users in just two months – has brought attention to generative AI in general. As you would expect, generative AI is capable of creating text, images, and other forms of content in seconds that some consider indistinguishable from what a human would create.

Unsurprisingly, generative AI has been hailed as both a productivity enhancer and a job destroyer, sometimes simultaneously. It has raised serious issues in academia, with some people suggesting that the college essay has become obsolete. In addition, AI’s generative capabilities may fundamentally change the way white collar professionals work and may even threaten their jobs.

Should Readers Know Whether Content is AI-Generated?

One issue that appears to surface regularly in the conversations around AI is whether people should know whether content was created by a human or AI. Knowing the provenance of content seems like a fair request, especially if an individual is relying on the information for a serious matter such as their health, financial well-being, or safety. 

One solution that has been thrown around is the idea of watermarking AI content, allowing people and search engines to recognize it as such. In fact, at Google I/O , the company said that it would voluntarily watermark images created by its generative AI so that people could spot fakes. Microsoft made a similar announcement a few weeks later.

Inaccurate and Fake Content Can Have Real World Effects

It is becoming more and more clear that misleading content generated by AI can have real world effects – and cause real word harm. For example, on May 22 of this year, a false report of an explosion at the Pentagon accompanied by an image likely generated by AI caused a significant dip in the stock market. 

Similarly, many experts consider content containing misinformation to pose a risk to elections. Speaking at a World Economic Forum event earlier this year, Microsoft’s chief economist, Micahel Schwartz cautioned that “Before AI could take all your jobs, it could certainly do a lot of damage in the hands of spammers, people who want to manipulate elections.” 

Bad actors could generate misinformation at a scale never seen before in the form of social media posts, fake news stories, fake images, and even deep fake videos of candidates that are indistinguishable from reality.

Perhaps most troublingly, some observers think that the rise of generative AI risks a future of human incompetence. What does the world look like if all we have to do to demonstrate competence is to ask an AI to do it for us? As put by US DOJ National Security & Cybercrime Coordinator Matt Cronin recently in The Hill:

For even the most brilliant minds, mastering a domain and deeply understanding a topic takes significant time and effort. While ultimately rewarding, this stressful process risks failure and often takes thousands of hours. For the first time in history, an entire generation can skip this process and still progress (at least for a time) in school and work. They can press the magic box and suddenly have work product that rivals the best in their cohort. That is a tempting arrangement, particularly since their peers will likely use AI even if they do not.

Like most Faustian bargains, however, reliance on generative AI comes with a hidden price. Every time you press the box, you are not truly learning — at least not in a way that meaningfully benefits you. You are developing the AI’s neural network, not your own.

Cronin argues that incompetence will increase over time as we use AI, comparing using it to having someone else work out for you and expecting to get fit as a result.

Consider a hypothetical generation of surgeons who have been raised on AI and suddenly do not have internet access – do you want them operating on you? Do you want a lawyer who got through law school learning how to correctly “prompt” AI representing you in court? Of course, for most of us, the answer is “no.”

The fact is that generative AI allows people to seemingly demonstrate knowledge or expertise they do not have. While this clearly presents an issue in academia, where students are expected to demonstrate knowledge in writing assignments, it also raises an issue as to whether consumers can trust that knowledge-based professionals like lawyers, physicians, and mental health providers actually possess the skills they claim to have in their website content. 

What Does Watermarking AI-Generated Content Look Like?

You are probably already familiar with the idea of watermarking as it relates to visual content. For an example, go to iStock and see how they display the pictures they have for sale. In order to prevent you from simply right-clicking and saving the image to your desktop, each image has “iStock by Getty Images” superimposed on top of it.

Google is taking watermarking AI-generated images a step further and embedding data that will mark them as AI-generated. In a May 10th blog post on The Keyword, Google explained that:

“. . .as we begin to roll out generative image capabilities, we will ensure that every one of our AI-generated images has a markup in the original file to give you context if you come across it outside of our platforms. Creators and publishers will be able to add similar markups, so you’ll be able to see a label in images in Google Search, marking them as AI-generated. You can expect to see these from several publishers including Midjourney, Shutterstock, and others in the coming months.

Watermarking Content Presents Special Challenges

Of course, watermarking AI-generated text would be different from watermarking images. One idea that has been discussed by AI-creators like OpenAI and other stakeholders is the idea of cryptographic watermarking. This type of watermarking involves embedding a pattern or code into the text in a way that allows software to detect whether content is generated by AI.

Hany Farid, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, recently explained how watermarking text may work in a piece for GCN:

Generated text can be watermarked by secretly tagging a subset of words and then biasing the selection of a word to be a synonymous tagged word. For example, the tagged word “comprehend” can be used instead of “understand.” By periodically biasing word selection in this way, a body of text is watermarked based on a particular distribution of tagged words. This approach won’t work for short tweets but is generally effective with text of 800 or more words depending on the specific watermark details.

This idea has gained traction in many circles. Professor Farid believes that all AI-generated content should be watermarked, as does Matt Cronin (mentioned earlier in this article). Additionally, Fedscoop’s Nihal Krishan reports that Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology met privately with tech executives  at the RSA Conference – including those from OpenAI and Microsoft – and urged them to consider watermarking any content their AI models generate.

Conclusion

While the future of AI-content watermarking remains unclear, what is clear is that generative AI can pose risks to individuals as well as  society as a whole. Misinformation has been a problem before, but the difference now is the scale and speed with which it can be produced.

One way to handle the issue would be for AI companies to watermark all of the content they create so that everyone has a clear idea of its provenance. This would allow for the use of AI in academia without the fear of an incompetent workforce, the use of AI in journalism without eroding the public trust, and the use of AI in marketing with transparency. 

In light of the risks posed by the proliferation of AI-generated content and the potential erosion of human competence, watermarking provides a practical measure to ensure transparency and accountability. By implementing watermarking practices, content creators and publishers can contribute to a more informed and discerning society, enabling individuals to make better decisions based on the origin and authenticity of the content they encounter.

Generative AI for Law Firm Content? A Quick and Dirty Guide

It’s May of 2023, which means that professionals across all industries are working on determining how they can incorporate AI into their workflows to improve efficiency. Everyone knows the legal field moves more slowly with technology than others, but that doesn’t mean that lawyers and law firms are not trying to figure out how they can use it to do non-practice tasks like create marketing materials.

It’s true that generative AI can create fairly convincing human-sounding content, so law firms and their marketing managers may wonder whether they can use it to churn out content at scale. AI is a great assistant, but it still needs a human at the helm – especially in a high-stakes area like law. 

Below are some guidelines as to how law firms can currently use generative AI models like ChatGPT to help in the marketing efforts.+

Do Not Rely on It to Create a Finished Product By Itself

The first thing that lawyers and law firm marketing directors should realize is that you cannot rely on AI models to create a finished piece of content without human intervention. AI is a very convincing liar, and it is known to “hallucinate” answers that are just flat out wrong

It doesn’t take much to recognize that this can be a serious issue when creating legal content. Providing incorrect information could result in bar complaints or even a malpractice suit if someone who became a client used the information on your site for the basis of taking a specific course of action.

Additionally, even if you teach AI your brand voice, the fact is that AI-generated content does not capture the intricacy and personality of human writing. If you really want to make a connection with your readers, make sure there is a human touch to the final product.

Know What AI Does Best

Now that we’ve addressed some of the significant issues with AI content creation, it’s important to address the things that it can do extremely well. There is zero doubt that – when used correctly – AI can improve productivity and make the process of creating law firm marketing content easier. Some of the best use-cases for AI in legal content marketing include:

Topic Ideation

Sometimes, the hardest part of creating content is figuring out what to write about. After all, you can only package “why you need a [insert your practice area] attorney” in so many different ways. The fact is, however, that there is plenty to talk about in the legal field, and many questions that provide you an opportunity to connect with clients online.

Getting ChatGPT to spit out strong blog topics takes a little prompt engineering. For example, you need to narrow its output to consumer-facing matters (have you met a client that really wants to know the difference between assumption of the risk and comparative negligence?) and tell it some other details. 

Fortunately, the legal professionals at Lexicon Legal Content have done the hard part for you and created a legal industry-specific AI-Powered Legal Blog Topic Generator that you can use for free.

Getting Past Writer’s Block

So now you have some topics, but you are still looking at the blank page without any idea where to start. In cases like these, AI can help you get started. You can ask it to provide a basic introduction for your topic, which is often enough to get past writers’ block and put something on the page.

Outlining Your Content

Another place that AI shines is creating content outlines. Sometimes, it is just as simple as asking it to provide headers for an x-number of word article on your chosen topic. In others, you could ask it to get more granular and summarize pontiac ideas to cover in each section.

Read Every Word

When it comes to AI content, it is critical that someone with legal expertise (preferably someone with a JD) reads every single word of the output. A light edit adding some personal or brand flavor here and there is not going to cut it. As mentioned above, it is common knowledge that AI spits out incorrect information, and even a slight error could result in professional and legal consequences. 

In addition, AI may create content that is noncompliant with the advertising rules in your jurisdiction. A stray “specialist” or false statement about your experience could result in marketing materials that could land you in hot water with your state bar.

Run it Through a Plagiarism Checker

To vastly oversimplify the technology, generative AI uses advanced algorithms and available internet content to predict what word should come next. The fact that it is using existing content to create new content should make lawyers very nervous that the content that it generates may be extremely close to existing content on the internet. 

If you and some law firm across the street or across the country ask it to generate content on a similar topic, it may spit out very similar answers. For this reason, you should always run any AI-generated content through a plagiarism checker before publishing it. 

Keep in Mind that Without Significant Human Intervention, AI Content is Not Protected by Copyright

Earlier this year, the United States Copyright Office issued guidance regarding whether AI-generated content is subject to copyright protections. Feel free to read the entire document here, but the TLDR version is this: a work is not copyrightable when an AI generates content without human involvement, and providing a prompt is not sufficient human involvement to make a work copyrightable. In other words, if you tell an AI to “generate a blog on car accident law,” proofread it, and publish it on your website, you do not own it.

Outsource Content Creation to Legal Professionals

If this sounds like a lot to worry about when using AI to create content, it is. The reality is that in many cases, it is quicker to just write content from scratch the old-fashioned way than it is to have AI generate it and then clean it up. That said, when used correctly, AI can make parts of the content process more efficient and improve productively.

At Lexicon Legal Content, we leverage AI to create legal content for our clients that turns website visitors into clients. To learn more, call us today or send us an email.

Why Lawyers Should Promote Their Awards in their Blog Posts

It’s estimated that over 2,000 honors or recognitions specifically target the legal profession in the United States. The number of awards given by bar associations, law schools, and media outlets has swelled tremendously during the past two decades. The law firms and attorneys receiving them can leverage them to their advantage by blogging about them.

Legal awards and recognitions are third-party validation of an individual attorney, practice or law firm’s credentials. No legal client is likely to hire a lawyer simply because of an award they received. However, it may get them on a prospective client’s radar or shortlist.

Simply put, legal awards and honors help enhance attorney and law firm profiles law firms, and differentiate them from the competition.

One way to get your audience and prospective clients to learn about the accolades you have receive is to start writing blogs announcing when you receive them.

Awards Set You Apart from Other Attorneys

Legal marketing isn’t easy, especially considering the many ethical and legal compliance constraints you must adhere to. You must be keenly aware of how you talk about your services, skills, and track record.

At the same time, many prospective legal clients don’t know how to tell one lawyer apart from the next and generally assume that they are all about the same. So how can you set yourself apart from the competition and still stay within your ethical and legal bounds?

There are many ways, but one of the easiest and most obvious is to include your award nominations and recognitions in your marketing efforts. This includes publishing blogs about the honors you receive.

Awards for attorneys aren’t typically handed out like participation trophies to the elementary soccer team. These awards, honors, and recognitions set you apart from the competition.

When you leverage them in an appropriate way, you can do so without seeming like you are bragging or at the risk of crossing any ethical boundaries.

Awards and New Attorneys

You can certainly benefit from writing a blog about a recognition or award if you are a newer attorney. When you first start out, you may not have much experience or many skills that differentiate you from your local peers. Receiving awards and recognitions might be the first thing that distinguishes you from someone else and ends up bringing you more clients.

Publishing a blog post about your award not only helps you with SEO but also establishes your authority locally within your legal niche and target audience, drawing more potential clients to your law firm’s website and increasing your numbers.

Highly Decorated and Experienced Attorneys

Attorneys who have been in practice for quite some time may have received multiple awards; some may be the same award year after year. While they might seem redundant, don’t discount these awards.

Having numerous awards or receiving the same recognition for many years in a row not only shows that a lawyer was experienced and successful then but remains that way now. Some potential clients will be more likely to hire an attorney with more recent awards and recognitions than someone who won them years ago but not since.

Tips for Writing an Award Blog Post

Follow the Award Advertising Guidelines

Professional organizations that award recognitions in the legal industry frequently have their own guidelines for announcing and promoting these awards.

When you publish a blog post about or publicize an award on your website or elsewhere, always be sure you comply with their guidelines. If you don’t, you could be penalized by the organization and prohibited from further promoting the award in the future.

For instance, Martindale-Hubbell requires that any rating internet advertisement includes the text below and either a specific explanation of the rating or a link to the Martindale-Hubbell explanation:

“AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell DistinguishedSM, and Martindale-Hubbell NotableSM are Certification Marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell® certification procedures, standards, and policies.”

Some organizations require you to place a trademark symbol by their name or the award or otherwise refer to the award in specific terms.

Furthermore, some companies let you know you have won the award months ahead of the announcement and require you not to release the information until they make their formal announcement. Martindale-HubbellSuper Lawyers, and Best Lawyers all publish their guidelines online.

Include All Recognitions Awarded to Lawyers in Your Law Firm

If you work for a law firm and multiple lawyers at your law firm receive the same or similar recognition at the same time, be sure you write one blog to include all of the awards received by the lawyers at your firm and the law firm itself. You can list each attorney and what they were recognized for and provide a short bio about them.

Comply with Your State’s Ethics Requirements

Attorney advertising falls under state bar regulations, including legal ethics rules. Attorneys or law firms who violate rules of professional conduct may face penalties such as fines, public censure, or even disbarment. In these cases, the attorney, not their marketing department, will be held responsible for what is published online.

Before publishing a blog post about your recognition or award, review the specifics of the professional conduct rules in every state where you practice and are licensed to ensure compliance.

For example, most states prohibit any statement that isn’t objectively verifiable, such as “Tom Smith is the Best Lawyer in the Pacific Northwest.” However, “Tom Smith has been recognized by Best Lawyers®,” is permissible. If an award recognizes an attorney’s work for a specific year, geographic location, or legal practice area, be sure to include that in the blog post or other announcement.

Keep in mind that some states have precise requirements. For instance, the Supreme Court of New Jersey recently enacted a provision that lawyer and law firm awards, honors, and accolades may only be referenced when they can be verified and the awarding organization has made sufficient inquiry into the qualifications of the individual attorney or law firm.

New Jersey also requires the following to accompany any reference to the award:

  • The name of the award-issuing organization
  • A description of how award recipients are selected, in the blog post itself or by referencing an easily-accessible public source
  • The disclaimer: “No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.”

Remember, it’s your responsibility to check your state’s legal conduct rules.

Don’t Forget Local or Regional Awards

Just because your award or recognition didn’t come from Avvo, Super Lawyers, or Best Lawyers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share it with potential clients and your target audience. In fact, it may be more significant to those local to you.

For example, in the Denver metro area, 5280 Magazine publishes a list of Top Lawyers annually every January. While people looking for a lawyer in the area may have never heard of Super Lawyers or Best Lawyers, many have heard of or even regularly read 5280 Magazine. Lawyers with an award from this magazine will stand out to locals, whereas lawyers with other awards may not so much.

Stay Away from Paid Recognitions

There are many awards and recognitions out there. To protect your integrity and remain ethical, it only makes sense to stay away from paid recognitions.

You want to be able to say that your award was earned and well-deserved; paying for one can undermine your credibility and authority to your audience and legal community. Some of them may even be scams. The only thing these honors are recognizing is your ability to pay, not your actual skills or expertise.

Although some may offer paid advertisements in their publications, real awards honor outstanding attorneys without caring whether they pay. Instead, focus your efforts on your clients, which will, in turn, likely put you in the running for reputable recognition.

Don’t Just Post Award Announcements

Effective legal blog writing, just like all other marketing efforts, requires ongoing action. You can’t just write a blog post each time you have an award or recognition to announce for your practice or firm. Not only could it come across as tacky to your prospective clients, but it also doesn’t help your SEO.

Writing and publishing a legal blog at least once or twice weekly to drive traffic to your site and generate interest. Blogging about your awards should only be a small portion of your blogs. Instead, focus on blogging about helpful and valuable content for your readers when you don’t have awards to announce.

Remember, you wouldn’t be an award-winning attorney if you didn’t have valuable information to share. Periodic sharing of awards won’t attract the interest of real people or online algorithms. You need to regularly publish a blog post for effective SEO.

Don’t be afraid to share your awards and accolades with your readers via your legal blog and even your firm’s newsletter, if you have one. Incorporate these tips, good SEO, and it will only be a matter of time until you start to reap the benefits.

Do You Need Help with Blog Writing? Turn to the Blogging Experts at Lexicon Legal Content

If you need assistance writing your award announcements and other legal blogging or don’t have the time to do it yourself, the attorney-led team at Lexicon Legal Content can help. Contact us today to learn more about our customized blogging and legal content services.

Google Update Impacts Legal Content Marketing

Google recently updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines, and the direction it’s taken will almost certainly affect your legal content marketing strategies for your law firm. These guidelines are what Google’s search quality raters use to evaluate the quality of a page. The biggest reveals are the new spin Google put on the YMYL category (Your Money or Your Life) and the new emphasis it’s putting on E-A-T. E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness – and it’s critical that your law firms’ website content demonstrates all three.

When it comes to legal content and search engine results pages, all of this makes sense, and it pays to pay attention – and to work with a legal content provider that stays on top of the latest developments in search engine optimization (SEO) as it relates to law firm websites. It comes to E-A-T, YMYL, and lawyers, it pays to work with the professionals.

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Google Wants You to Know that It Pays to Be Helpful

The world of SEO is abuzz about the helpful content update recently published by Google. While this latest offering doesn’t seem to be earth-shattering, it is important to familiarize yourself with it – and to generally keep up. As such, there are five basic tips that can help anyone out there who needs to pay attention to SEO, which means any law firm with an online presence. The message driving Google’s latest offering is that you should be taking a people-first approach – rather than writing for bots. When Google embraces its human side, it’s time for businesses to follow suit. 

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Is There a Magic Number When It Comes to Law Firm Blog Posts?

If you’re regularly updating your law firm’s blog, you already know that blog posts help you connect with current and potential clients alike. You may wonder, however, if there’s a magic number, schedule, or time frame regarding how often and when you should be posting. Should you be slapping content up every day – even if you really don’t have much to say – or should you leave people wanting more by posting intermittently? Fortunately, it’s no longer a guessing game – there are some tried-and-true guidelines to help guide how often you should be updating your law firm’s blog. 

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