Google Update Impacts Legal Content Marketing

Google Update Impacts Legal Content Marketing

Google recently updated its Search Quality Rater Guidelines, which will likely impact your law firm’s content marketing strategies. These guidelines help raters assess page quality. The focus is now on E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). Your law firm’s website must demonstrate these qualities in its content.

In 2024, Google added “experience” to E-A-T, reacting to AI-generated content like ChatGPT. For legal content and SEO, staying updated and collaborating with an SEO-savvy legal content provider who understands E-A-T and YMYL is crucial. Working with professionals pays off.

Google Update Impacts

The Shift in Direction

Google has shifted focus from YMYL topics like News, current events, Civics, government, and Law to assessing specific content categories for potential harm. According to the quality rater guidelines, content gets labeled YMYL when it poses a high risk of causing damage to readers or others affected. Pages are classified as YMYL if they could significantly impact health, safety, or financial stability due to dangerous topics or unreliable information. Law firm websites must have high-quality content to avoid search engine penalties, as well-written YMYL pages have better chances of ranking well.

EAT, YMYL, and Lawyers

When it comes to legal content, it’s not a stretch to say that inaccurate information can prove harmful to readers and society at large, which makes focusing your efforts on Google’s updated guidelines paramount for law firms and other companies in the legal services space. To begin, the information you share can be actionable, which means it has the potential to guide readers’ behaviors and, thus, has the ability to do harm or cause significant impact – if the content is not carefully considered, accurate, and clearly written.  

Google advises that – even when minor inaccuracies could lead to harm – YMYL is likely applicable. Further, if the topic isn’t one that most people would be comfortable seeking guidance from friends or family, it’s more likely to fall into the YMYL categories. Legal content very likely checks both of these boxes. Finally, the more closely your content identifies with YMYL, which is gauged on a spectrum, the more important E-A-T becomes. 

A High-Quality Focus on E-A-T

Google considers a variety of factors when it determines the quality of the content of a page:

  • The topic and purpose of the page guide the necessary level of E-A-T, amount and quality of main content (MC), and level of information about the MC’s creators. When it comes to YMYL topics, a higher standard for all three is required. 
  • Some factors that can make a page low quality – regardless of its purpose or topic – include having a mixed or mildly negative reputation regarding the website or the content creator or having a shocking or otherwise exaggerated title. 
  • Any type of website can have pages that are identified as low quality, including government and academic websites, and low-quality pages can be about virtually any topic. 

The pages on YMYL topics require more careful scrutiny in terms of factors that are indicative of low quality, and it’s important to note that even one low-quality attribute can push an entire page into a low-quality rating.

The Topic and the Purpose of the Page

The necessary level of E-A-T, as defined by Google, is driven by the page’s topic and purpose. Whatever kind of law you practice, your pages are almost certainly intended to inform readers about important legal matters that could lead to significant actions and profound effects. As such, the very topics of your pages – because the information has the potential to cause harm – are likely to place them squarely in the exacting sights of quality raters, who are required to evaluate the topic when determining page quality. 

A Lack of E-A-T

Google has tweaked its definition of what it means when a page lacks the necessary E-A-T to bypass a low-quality finding by adding a bullet point that states the following – Informational [main content] on YMYL topics is mildly inaccurate or misleading.

Other common examples of pages that are ranked as low quality due to a lack of necessary E-A-T include:

  • The MC’s creator doesn’t have the necessary expertise in the topic at hand
  • The site – although it may be authoritative – is not an authoritative source for the topic at hand (a legal website that offers medical advice, for example). 
  • The MC itself does not inspire trust.

While some pages need no formal expertise to write, it’s critical for the purposes of YMYL topics, which makes it critical for your law firm’s website content. The idea is to highlight the level of legal experience, insight, and skill you have achieved and to ensure that this colors your content. If a page you publish lacks the E-A-T necessary to support its purpose, which is to inform readers on a topic that has the potential to have a significant impact, other factors, such as reputation, cannot save the page from a low rating.  

Do No Harm

Google’s quality raters are trained to recognize that even the most authoritative and generally helpful websites can include pages with harmful MC that are deserving of the lowest ratings. As such, they are called to carefully evaluate each page in terms of its own merits and challenges. Before moving on to any other page quality characteristics, quality raters are required to first check for the following:

  • Untrustworthiness
  • Deception
  • Spam
  • Harmfulness

In its quest to update and upgrade search quality ratings, Google also put out a clear overview of the process involved in the search quality evaluator guidelines. As a provider of legal information, providing informative, well-constructed, compelling YMYL pages is key, which makes focusing on the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the legal content at hand instrumental to offering readers the information they are looking for while remaining in Google’s good graces.

FAQs

What is E-A-T, and why is it essential for legal content?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. Google uses these factors to judge the quality and reliability of information. It’s important because it can impact readers’ lives, finances, or safety.

How can a law firm demonstrate expertise in its content?

Law firms demonstrate expertise by providing detailed legal knowledge, case studies, and practical legal advice highlighting their attorneys’ qualifications and experience.

What gives legal content authority?

Legal content gains authority through credentials like memberships in legal associations, awards, recognitions, and years of experience. This assures readers that the information comes from a credible source.

How can trust in legal content be maintained?

Trust in legal content is maintained by ensuring accuracy, transparency, and reliability. Avoid sensationalized or misleading information, clearly cite sources, and present balanced and factual information.

Why is YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) important in legal content?

YMYL topics, including legal matters, can significantly impact a person’s finances, health, or safety. To protect users, Google requires such content to be accurate, trustworthy, and high-quality.

What pitfalls should be avoided in legal content marketing?

Avoid providing inaccurate or outdated information, lacking precise citations or sources, using overly promotional language, and neglecting to update content regularly to meet current standards.

Final Word

Law firms must create high-quality legal content that adheres to Google’s E-A-T guidelines. Focusing on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness can enhance their online visibility and establish them as dependable sources of legal information.

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.

When ChatGPT Gets Legal Content Wrong

ChatGPT is unquestionably a useful tool for certain aspects of legal content marketing. The AI platform can generate complex blog topics, section headers, and more to increase efficiency in the content writing process. However, problems can quickly arise when lawyers try to cut corners by using ChatGPT to write the bulk of their content and rely on the output as accurate.

ChapGPT Doesn’t Know Current Changes in the Law

On March 24, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a Tort Reform bill, changing several critical aspects of Florida personal injury law. One key change is the reduction of the personal injury statute of limitations from four years to two years. 

Despite the wide publication of these changes, ChatGPT confidently delivered the following in July 2023:

This is because ChatGPT has a knowledge cutoff of September 2021, so any changes since then will not be reflected in its output. 

Imagine if a personal injury attorney fails to carefully check the ChatGPT output and posts this information as-is on their blog. It’s certainly foreseeable that an accident victim may find the content and rely on it when determining how quickly to proceed with their case. Once the car accident victim realizes they missed the accurate two-year window, the attorney can face possible sanctions. If a client relied on a law firm website’s incorrect information, the client’s attorney could also potentially face a malpractice lawsuit.

Using ChatGPT without the proper attention and editing can lead to problems for an attorney – and it can also significantly affect the lives of potential legal clients who rely on misinformation. Readers should assume they can trust what they read on a legal professional’s website, and they stand to lose a lot when the information is incorrect. 

A Hybrid Model Works Best

Fortunately, there is a simple solution that allows content creators to harness the power of generative AI for more efficient content writing while ensuring legal accuracy. You should always have someone with detailed legal knowledge review any material produced by ChatGPT before you publish it. 

Many attorneys have already tried this approach – using AI to write content and then reviewing and editing it. However, this process is far more time-consuming than it might initially seem. In fact, in some cases, it may be faster to write from scratch than to review and verify everything that ChatGPT spits out.

In order to safely and ethically use AI to create law firm marketing materials, one should:

  • Read the content mindfully and identify any possible errors
  • Double-check the accuracy of any factual statements or statements of law
  • Ensure that the content does not contain any verbiage that is disallowed by your jurisdiction, such as “expert” or “specialist”
  • Making sure the content does not guarantee certain outcomes or timelines
  • Brand the post to your firm, using your marketing messaging
  • Ensure the post follows SEO best practices with regard to keyword usage and density
  • Changing the point of view from third person if a firm wants a more personalized tone

More and more attorneys and their marketing teams find they do not have the time to carefully complete the above steps, which are necessary for reliable and effective content. As a result, many firms that left content providers to try their hand at ChatGPT have allowed their content goals and schedules to lapse, as they are finding that they don’t have the time required to ensure that AI-generated content is accurate and compliant.

The Third Option: Hybrid AI/Human Content Services

Fortunately, here is a third option besides paying for human-generated content and devoting the time and attention necessary to use ChatGPT on your own. At Lexicon Legal Content, we offer an AI/Human hybrid content creation service where we use AI to do the heavy lifting, followed by extensive human review and editing by an editor with a JD or similar legal knowledge. Ultimately, this process results in content that is accurate, unique, and SEO optimized to help our clients connect with clients and improve their SERP rankings.

If you are a law firm or digital marketing agency needing help with content development, you’re in the right place. Lexicon Legal Content has been creating accurate, compelling, and SEO-focused legal content for more than a decade. We’re committed to staying on top of the developments in generative AI to ensure that we can leverage this new technology responsibility and in a way that provides value to our clients. To learn more, call us today or contact us online.

Written by Erin Fitzgerald, JD

Co-Founder

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 Need a Strong Content Marketing Strategy

As an attorney, you have a lot of useful legal knowledge in your head. While you use this knowledge to help your clients daily, you could also leverage it to produce useful content that would bring more prospects to your door.

For example, if you don’t already have a law blog, you’re missing out on the many benefits of legal content marketing. Only about a third of all law firms have a blog on their website that they post regularly to, giving them the upper hand.

An effective digital marketing strategy includes content marketing. Compelling content ranks well on Google and provides potential customers with information about their legal issues. No matter the size of your practice, you have the potential to rank at the top of Google and other search engines with consistent, effective legal content.

Law school may not have prepared you or other legal professionals for legal blog writing or drafting website content, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t crucial to the success of your practice.

What is Legal Content Marketing?

Whether you like it or not, traditional methods of marketing your law practice are becoming less effective and more obsolete by the minute. Taking its place is legal content marketing.

Legal content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on generating and distributing relevant, valuable, and consistent content. Content marketing aims to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable consumer action.

Effective legal content marketing involves the distribution of relevant, timely, and valuable legal content, including:

  • Blogs
  • Website content
  • Newsletters
  • White papers
  • Social media posts
  • Emails
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Well researched web pages that explain legal concepts
  • Practice area pages
  • Other tools and mediums

These pieces of legal content don’t directly promote the law firm but rather stimulate some type of interest in the firm’s services. Content marketing is essential for today’s digital landscape, as consumers have become increasingly numb to typical advertising tactics.

Cultivating Relationships with Prospective Legal Clients

When legal content marketing is done correctly, it conveys expertise and value to current and potential clients and shows that you value them.

The consistent use of a well-planned law practice content marketing strategy lays the groundwork for and cultivates relationships with your prospective and existing clients. Your readers are more likely to hire you when they need legal counsel if they think of you as a:

  • Valuable source of advice and guidance
  • Partner who wants to help them solve their problems and achieve success

The Benefits of Legal Content Marketing

Content marketing can benefit your legal practice in several ways. An effective content marketing strategy will not only address legal issues but can also:

Enhance Online Visibility

You will attract more prospects and website visitors with an effective marketing strategy, especially when society is frequently searching for legal solutions to their pain points. Providing valuable, educational, and informative content about topics that interest your audience and potential clients will enhance your online visibility through your website or social media accounts.

Create More Leads

Not only does proper content marketing highlight your law firm online, but it also generates more solid leads. Educating others interested in what you have to offer builds trust and helps them feel more comfortable becoming a client. Developing relationships with prospective clients will inevitably bring more quality leads.

Boost Loyalty

Client loyalty is crucial in legal marketing and business because the more loyal your clients are, the more repeat business you will get—either from repeat clients or others they have referred to you. Offering informative content can help them start to build trust with your brand and see you as a thought leader.

Increase Authority

Developing quality, helpful content is a key ingredient to improving online authority and becoming a thought leader in your legal niche. Not only does content help you build trust with current and potential legal clients, but it can also position your law firm as the most authoritative source on a particular topic.

Streamline Meetings

The initial consultation and first few meetings with a prospective legal client are bound to be full of many questions. Giving potential legal clients informative content at every stage of their legal journey will help them find answers to questions they may have before even becoming a part of your audience.

Return on Investment

Content marketing is also excellent because it’s known to be cost-efficient as long as you are willing to learn and shift the practice as needed. There are also a lot of great legal writers out there who can write content for you. Putting together content can be a cost-efficient tactic that garners a great ROI, unlike online ads, where you’ll always have to keep spending money.

Putting Content Marketing to Work for You

Content marketing can be used to attract leads, highlight your legal services when a potential client is ready to research potential attorneys to hire, and sign legal clients. To be an effective content marketer, you must concentrate on delivering the appropriate content at each stage of the sales cycle, beginning with awareness all the way through hiring. It might sound like a complicated process; however, thinking of it this way helps simplify it.

Focus on Different Aspects of Your Legal Clients Journeys

However, the problem many content marketers have with effectively using different types of content is when they focus on only a single portion of the client journey. Instead, they pigeonhole themselves into creating every piece of content to boost awareness or generate conversions.

Unfortunately, this lopsided strategy won’t be effective because it fails to get the attention of the average person and prospective clients at each part of their journey.

But why do marketers make this mistake?

There are many possible reasons, including the following:

  • Lack of knowledge regarding how to optimize their content for each area of the sales cycle
  • Not understanding what makes content valuable to the client
  • Limited availability of resources or experience to create content

These shortfalls lead marketers to drop the ball with their content efforts.

Compelling Content Marketing in Each Stage of the Sales Cycle

Too many law firms approach sales on an ad hoc basis, which means the ball can be dropped, and sales opportunities will be missed. With a planned content marketing strategy, you will avoid this mistake.

Awareness Stage

During the first stage of the sales process, concentrate your content on your audience’s top concerns. Address their common concerns, challenges, and questions, as this provides you with the best chance of engaging with them. At this stage, your content should be educational, how-to advice. Selling should be reserved for the consideration and closing phases.

The best content for the awareness stage includes legal blog posts, articles, interactive tools, e-books, infographics, viral content, videos, and newsletters.

For instance:

  • A personal injury lawyer publishes a legal blog post about maximizing injury compensation.
  • A family attorney offers an e-book on considerations for divorcing couples with children.
  • A business attorney sends a newsletter focused on new business laws that small businesses should be aware of.

Consideration Stage

The consideration stage should transition to feature a cross between helpful information and marketing. This content aims to educate the audience about what to look for when seeking legal help and how lawyers can address their legal needs. Your content at this stage should always be on what your business offers.

Practical content ideas at the consideration stage include:

  • Case studies
  • How-to articles
  • How-to videos
  • Checklists
  • Worksheets
  • Interviews
  • Webinars

For example:

  • A family or business attorney posts a guide entitled “Three Ways to Handle the Family Business in a Divorce” that details the various options for what to do with a business owned by both spouses when divorcing.
  • A car accident lawyer conducts and publishes case studies about “The Biggest Mistakes Most Injured Victims Make When They Hire a Personal Injury Attorney.”
  • A business attorney offers a checklist on how to incorporate a small business.

Closing Stage

Content marketing plays an essential role when a prospective client is close to making a hiring decision. At this stage, it’s okay to concentrate on selling your services. But remember to continue to drive home why you are the best attorney for their needs and wants.

Shift the focus to your expertise, skills, and the differentiating benefits of what you have to offer.

The best content for this stage usually includes:

  • Case studies
  • User-generated content
  • A client’s guide
  • Informative videos
  • Research report
  • Email marketing, including a newsletter
  • Social ads

For instance:

  • A personal injury firm creates a research report proving that injured parties that hire a personal injury firm more often than not garner higher compensation for their damages.
  • A business law practice generates short videos showcasing the variety of its work across various business industries to show its capabilities and diverse expertise.
  • A family law firm encourages clients to contribute testimonials about its compassionate attorneys and top-notch legal service in court.

Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

Identify your audience

Creating content for a specific audience involves clearly understanding their challenges, priorities, and preferences. If what you have to share doesn’t provide value or interest them in some way, you will lose them before you even have them. Sometimes, crafting profiles of your desired audience members and prospects is a good idea before starting a content marketing strategy.

Select the Right Formats

When identifying what content format to start with, think about the stage of the sales cycle you are aiming for and what formats will help you showcase your value best. The right formats will vary depending on the type of law you practice and your potential audience; for some, the right content will be a legal blog post; for others, perhaps a checklist.

Ensure Quality Content

Always keep in mind that your audience will judge your marketing content on its quality, as they should. Considering this, choose the right person, internal or external, to create your content.

Perhaps you want to write your own content or feel another attorney at your firm would be better suited for the job. Or maybe you don’t feel you have the time or expertise to create your own content and want to outsource it to legal content marketing experts. You can work closely with a legal content writer, law blog writers, and your marketing department to write clean copy on a timely basis.

Furthermore, suppose you don’t outsource the job to someone else. In that case, you should strongly consider hiring a professional proofreader to review anything before it is published or sent to your audience. Editing is essential, and your reputation depends on it.

Determine Your Content Distribution

How will you distribute your law content to your audience and current and prospective clients? Will you post content on your website, email it to your list of contacts, or print it for a specific event?

Begin by thinking about “where” you know your audience will likely direct their attention, and then select formats that make sense.

For instance:

  • An article might make sense to distribute with an email
  • A graphic checklist or worksheet can be posted on your social media accounts, which will allow them to be easily shared and create more marketing opportunities for you
  • A helpful guide is a good follow-up after meeting with a prospective client

Choose a Sustainable Schedule

Once you can identify your target readership and the best formats for each sales cycle stage, create a short-term, between three and six months plan. It’s far too easy to develop an overly ambitious content marketing plan, especially when you are first starting out. Your motivation may exceed the realities of your time constraints.

However, it’s critical to consider your budget and resources so that the content plan you design is realistic. Track the time it takes you to create each piece of content so that you can build that time into your schedule. Even if you choose to outsource your content creation, you will need to account for the time it takes to take care of related tasks, such as providing topic ideas or reviewing the content they give back to you.

Adhere to Content Marketing Best Practices

Compelling content is clearly written and won’t use any jargon that only you and your legal colleagues will know. Ensure your content also includes detailed how-to advice. Often, a short, relevant, actionable piece of content is best.

SEO Considerations for Content Marketing

When done correctly, quality legal content marketing makes it easy for ideal prospects to find your law firm. However, you can significantly boost your efforts with search engine optimization (SEO).

Essential best SEO practices include the following:

Remember that keywords are the foundation of SEO efforts. These all-important words or phrases are the terms a likely prospect uses in a search engine when searching for a company, product, or service—including legal services.

Incorporate the appropriate keywords into your content, and you will attract more traffic. The best keywords are:

  • Plain language: Language your target audience uses to detail their difficulties and needs
  • Relevant: Keywords should reflect the expertise, products, and representation you provide
  • Specific: Combine your focus, legal industry expertise, prospective client needs, and other relevant details

SEO isn’t new and has evolved, so the results shown to your potential clients depend partially on your content’s quality, relevance, and if it matches its headline.

Tips for Legal Writing Keyword Use

Using the right legal content keywords throughout your legal writing and marketing content is imperative if you want it to rank and get seen by prospective clients. Here are some helpful guidelines when utilizing keywords:

  • Concentrate on one or two keywords per piece of content. Avoid “keyword stuffing.” You can do this by writing about what matters to your prospects, not just writing to be able to use keywords. Most search engines like Google will see right through your efforts if you don’t, and your content rank much lower.
  • Use your keywords in the title of your content; this way, it’s clear what the content is about.
  • Use keywords throughout the entire piece of content, but be sure to incorporate them naturally.
  • Stay on topic by providing quality content with advice related to a headline so that it will perform best.

 Putting it All Together

Whether you practice family law, criminal law, criminal defense, civil litigation, immigration law, intellectual property law, or other practice areas in the legal field, a content marketing strategy is essential in today’s competitive landscape. Building and executing your legal content marketing approach is a significant endeavor that won’t happen overnight.

However, legal professionals can get help crafting technical content and legal blog writing from legal blog writers, legal content writers, and other marketing experts with proven experience. They can also start by focusing on one area at a time, such as a legal blog or social media posts. The point is to get started somewhere and see where it takes you.

The Importance of Good Law Firm Website Design

Today’s legal marketplace demands that attorneys and law firms stand out from the crowd, especially when it comes to online marketing. You need prospective clients to notice you.

One way to differentiate your services is with a professional, valuable, user-friendly, and visually-appealing law firm website. No matter what people are searching for these days—be it a restaurant, gym, or doctor, they are looking online. Often, it’s the first place they look.

Your law firm needs to have a well-designed, effective website in today’s age if you want to keep growing your firm. It doesn’t matter how a potential legal client finds their attorney; they will more than likely use the internet to learn more information. This means that those that don’t have great law firm websites won’t be found – and the metrics are clear; the top law firm websites provide a tremendous ROI.

The 2019 Legal Trends Report reveals that 57 percent of consumers looked for a lawyer independently. The most common research methods they used were online search engines (17 percent) and visiting a lawyer’s website (17 percent). Even if clients receive personal referrals, keep in mind that they will likely be looking for information about those recommendations online as well as other client success stories.

All of this considered, you can almost guarantee that legal clients will sign with other firms if your online presence is lacking. In fact, having a poor, unprofessional website may even be worse than not having a firm website at all. If you are going to invest in a website, go all in and make it the best that it can be.

Your law firm’s website content, images, and design should be a reflection of your firm and its values. It establishes your credibility and authority in the legal world and helps establish trust. An informative, compelling, user-friendly website is an ideal way to make your practice discoverable to clients searching online for an attorney.

Law Firm Website Best Practices

Whether you run a large firm with an endless marketing budget or a small firm with a minimal one, you can take several best practice steps to improve your law firm website.

Aim for Simple and Unique

When it comes to the homepage and overall law firm web design, less truly is more.

Remember that your law firm website is a reflection of your brand, and it’s often what a potential client will use to form their first impression of your firm. Of course, there are ready-made templates that you can personalize in some ways, but the best law firm websites don’t look like hundreds of other firms.

Creating a unique impression is your goal. Suppose your law firm website looks like all the others. In that case, it won’t stand out, and potential clients won’t remember you apart from the half dozen other attorney websites they visited.

When designing your web page, think about the message you want your future and existing clients to receive. For example, it’s a good idea to incorporate the use of “hero areas” on your homepage. These are larger areas with an image with text or just an image or text.

Since these are large areas, they immediately draw the visitor’s attention, setting the visual tone for the rest of your homepage and website. However, don’t use too many of these areas as it makes the page too busy and noisy for many readers. So, be picky when selecting hero areas and what you put in them.

In general, many law firms and solo practitioners mistakenly include too much content on their homepage, creating confusion and a poor user experience. Think about the most important content and images you want website visitors to see and eliminate everything else.

You can also rely on bold and easy-to-read fonts and bullet points to help present and stress critical information for readers to notice. Although it’s best to keep your use of colors to a minimum, you can add some color to certain text to help draw attention to it.

You should also consider that some of your visitors will be visiting from laptops and mobile phones, so ensure your pages aren’t just designed for a large monitor size and don’t contain features too complex for mobile devices. They need to be mobile friendly.

Even if your own law firm website statistics show that you have more users on desktop, one of the ways Google ranks search engine results is by mobile-friendliness. As such, improving how your site appears on a mobile device will help potential clients find you.

Font Size Matters

It’s usually better to incorporate larger, more readable font sizes for your law firm website content. With improvements in screen resolution, many displays show smaller fonts in an almost too small to read size. Examine some of your favorite websites and carefully consider which font sizes you find easier for viewing and reading.

Most people prefer sites that use larger fonts. Unfortunately, too many law firms and attorneys only use tiny fonts on their pages, making their content nearly unreadable and not very visually appealing.

Include a Call to Action (CTA)

The call to action (CTA) on your firm’s homepage is essential to draw visitors deeper into your site.

You should consider a few crucial points when designing a CTA, including the following:

  • Where will your CTA go? (Above the fold so it’s visible on the monitor when the page first loads is ideal.)
  • Does the CTA stand out from the other content on your site?
  • Link your CTA to another page on your site so that your call to action will draw the visitor deeper into your site
  • Create a less-emphasized alternative variation to use further down on the page or other pages
  • You can test the design, content, and placement to determine what works best for your website

Don’t overload your homepage or any of your pages, for that matter, with multiple CTAs. Pick one or two that you can focus on. Too many calls to action can confuse or even cause visitors to feel pressured or rushed.

When designing your website, remember that you are still selling a service. This fact needs to be showcased on your home page.

Most prospective clients are looking for two pieces of information that will help them make their hiring decision. The first is what services you offer, and the second is your attorney profiles. Don’t forget that you only have a few seconds to make a great first impression, and you want to make a professional one that will draw visitors in.

Cohesiveness is Key

Your website will likely contain several different pages. You want to keep a cohesive design throughout each page. This will help reinforce your brand and keep everything visually appealing. All of your pages should maintain a similar layout and design. Unrelated designs for various pages can confuse visitors.

Don’t Waste Visitor Time

Web users get impatient quickly while waiting for websites to load. They are used to receiving and consuming information at lightning speed. If your website is too laden with complicated graphics and your hardware infrastructure and bandwidth don’t support its design, visitors may not wait for your page to load.

Instead, they’ll move on to the next attorney’s website and not think twice about you. The good news is that you can improve site load times with good hosts and keeping your design simple—which you should be doing anyway.

Rely On Responsive Designs

A responsive design fluidly changes and responds to fit any screen or device size, even a mobile device. This is important as mobile devices account for an increasing percentage of web traffic. In fact, some businesses, such as Facebook, have more people accessing their sites via a mobile device than a desktop computer.

Remember that prospective clients need and want to access your site from various devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. As many as half of all prospects frequently access law firm websites via a mobile device. The bonus is that Google and other search engines offer many search engine ranking benefits for responsive websites.

Organization Provides Better User Experiences

An organized website will help visitors navigate their way around, and it is preferential to search engines and increasing law firm search engine optimization (SEO). When potential clients arrive on your site, they usually seek specific information. Rarely will they read an entire page.

Instead, they will skim headlines, small portions of texts, bullet points, and graphics or photos. An organized website that presents information in a structured and organized manner will help them find their way around much easier.

Site maps and drop-down menus that make logical sense can go a long way. Good headlines are a must, as most readers ignore the content below a headline if it’s not an interesting one.

You may want to consider a secondary and obvious index for better organization and ease of use for your visitors. This way visitors can easily find what they are most likely there for— usually contact information, services, attorney bios, and reviews/testimonials.

Content is King

Suppose you know much about the internet and marketing. In that case, you likely already know that search engines like Google index sites by the quality of their content and links. Generally, the more content you include, the more a search engine will like a page.

Like search engines, people also gravitate toward content. Poor-quality content can quickly scare a visitor and potential client away. Your content should provide value to your readers and be helpful. It won’t rank high with search engines if it doesn’t check these boxes.

When deciding what content to put on your website, remember it’s all about the user experience (UX). Don’t just put something on your website because you think it looks good or you think that it improves the UX.

Do your research and use analytics to determine what website visitors are and aren’t clicking on and what they might find useful. Just because another law firm’s website has something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for your website.

Look at the Competition

Studying the best law firm websites of your successful competitors, firms you admire, and other online examples, can help you create a vision for what you want. Look at their websites and examine how they showcase their services to their current and potential clients.

Pay close attention to their law firm web design, including the colors, voice, use of graphics, illustrations, and photos, and their site organization overall. You might find something you can focus on to do differently—for example, using bolder colors.

You can even benefit from studying underperforming law firm websites. Think about what it is that doesn’t make their firm website inviting or appealing and how you can make yours different from theirs.

What a Robust Law Firm Website Includes

Unfortunately, there is no simple law firm website design template you can rely on to create the perfect legal website. However, there are certain pages you can add to provide a positive and practical experience for your website’s visitors.

Homepage

Your homepage is often the first page visitors see when searching for your law firm. You only have a matter of seconds to make a good first impression. It doesn’t matter if you are a large international law firm or a solo practice lawyer.

You need a homepage that accomplishes several essential goals and incorporates several aspects of law firm website design:

  • Quickly and briefly communicates precisely what you do and the benefits your practice offers
  • Captures the visitor’s attention with eye-catching images
  • Establishes credibility immediately
  • Provides an overview of the legal services your firm offers
  • Compels your visitor to take the next logical action step
  • Helps visitors to locate answers to the legal questions they have
  • Contains a simple and effective way to contact you
  • Is easily readable, uncluttered, and flows logically

Our Firm

The “Our Firm” page is a dedicated page where you should share some of your why. Here you can briefly explain why you and your firm are in business. On this page, you can incorporate the character and personality of your firm and put a human face on it. This is essential since lawyers and law firms can be an intimidating profession to many people.

When coming to your Our Firm page, visitors are looking for information to help them feel comfortable exploring their legal issues with you. As such, it shouldn’t merely be another sales page.

You should still include a call to action, but the focus of this copy should be you and your firm’s story—including how you have built credibility over the years and how you align with the needs of your target audience.

Attorney Profiles/Bios

Robust attorney profiles are a must if you want your law firm to stand out from the rest. Remember that prospective legal clients choose attorneys before they choose a firm, and they want to know whom they are dealing with.

Each attorney bio should include the following:

  • Practice areas
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Awards
  • Association memberships
  • Publications
  • Representative matters or highlighted successes in prior transactions or cases
  • Volunteer efforts/pro bono work
  • A professional photo
  • A limited amount of personal information to make the attorney more personable—such as hobbies, travel, or pets
  • Specific contact information
  • V-card downloads

Practice Area Pages

You want to have a page to showcase each area of your law firm practice areas. This fulfills the potential client’s need to know what services you offer. Pages pertaining to specific practice areas can also give them a deeper sense of what their case might involve, specific challenges they might face, and how you can help them through those challenges.

Pages for practice areas is where you may want to pay special attention to organization. For example, if part of your services is bankruptcy law, you should have a general bankruptcy page and then one for each type of bankruptcy.

Sub-category practice pages can make your law firm’s website more organized and help visitors find what they need more efficiently. Sub-categories provide navigability and relevance to your audience. They also improve law firm SEO by providing you an opportunity to use specific keyword phrases that you are targeting.

Testimonials

Not all lawyers and law firms include testimonials on their own website, but it’s a good idea to do so. Not only will it make your website more unique, but it will tell your visitors what you do well and why your past and current clients like working with you. While some firms shy away from including testimonials as they feel they are bragging, you are actually providing readers with firsthand information about working with your firm.

Like video marketing, video testimonials are often more effective than written testimonials if you can obtain them. However, these can sometimes be hard to produce for a law firm as many people are understandably reluctant to appear on camera about legal and personal matters.

Results

Similar to testimonials, it’s never a bad idea to dedicate a page to your most recent successes. Provide a brief overview of the case or problem, its challenges, how you overcame them, and what the result was. A results page displays your abilities to effectively represent clients and deliver the best possible outcome. You may also want to organize these by case type and in chronological order.

Blogs and Firm News

Having a page on your website dedicated to your blog and firm news is also a good idea. Most modern websites have them. Posting blogs on a regular basis—at least one to two times per week keeps your content fresh and is beneficial for SEO. Providing consistent content also showcases to Google that you are a trustworthy authority in your area of legal expertise.

Posting blogs can also:

  • Build trust with your current and future clients
  • Establish your authority and credibility in your legal niche(s), as your clients may not be familiar with your professional practice area
  • Keep you engaged with current clients
  • Increase search engine rankings
  • Help solve your client’s legal issues
  • Keep others up to date on what is going on with your firm—such as a move to a new office, onboarding a new attorney, or any awards or recognitions that you receive
  • Provide content for your social media accounts

If you don’t have the time, desire, or skills to write frequent blogs, consider hiring a third party to help you with this task.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Legal matters naturally raise many questions for people not in or familiar with the profession. What may seem obvious to you might not be obvious to your prospective clients. Having a dedicated FAQ page to break down and simplify these matters will provide a valuable service to your visitors and potential future clients.

On your FAQ page, concentrate on simplicity and clarity. Take the time to categorize questions into various practice areas and explain what anyone with little or no legal experience would want to know. If you aren’t sure what pages to put on your FAQ, just think about the most common questions you get asked by current and potential clients or even in your social circles about your area of law.

Contact Page

If your website has nothing else, it should have a contact page. While your contact details should be prominent on every page of your site, you should also have a dedicated contact us page to include phone numbers to reach your office, fax numbers, an email address, or a contact form potential clients can complete, your office address(es) and an embedded Google maps to display your precise location for those locations.

You may also choose to include your social media information on this page. It’s imperative to have a button on every page of your website that takes visitors to this page. You could lose potential clients if you don’t make it quick and easy to find.

Your contact information should be consistent across all your social media accounts, Google My Business account, and directory listings, as well as your website. In addition, you will need to decide on a consistent format for your address, phone number, email addresses, and other pieces of information.

Incorporating Images and Graphics on Your Website

A website’s images and graphics are key features in law firm website design. They help visitors to remain on the website once they are there, create an impression about the law firm, and add to the overall UX.

However, you don’t want to use too many images or graphics, which can detract from your content and the overall goal of getting a prospective client to contact you. Quality images that are appropriately placed will do wonders for every page of your website. They can also aid in cohesiveness and organization for your website.

You may also want to consider hiring a professional photographer to capture pictures of your attorneys, other staff members, or even your office. This will help your website look clean, polished, and professional, encouraging visitors to stay longer and improving your reputation.

The pictures you use on your website also serve a greater purpose than just making your law firm look good. Compelling images can drive traffic to your site, which leads to more conversions. Many law firms and solo practice attorneys miss opportunities simply because of their poor photos or lack of images.

Stiff headshots of lawyers, extremely outdated photos, pictures of people who no longer work there, and too many different colors in group shots can all be significant turn-offs to site visitors who might otherwise turn into clients. There’s no denying that humans are visual beings. Whether they consciously think about it or not, unattractive or uninviting images will negatively influence their decision-making.

Pictures and images can reveal much about your law firm and its values. Use these tips to ensure your law firm is leveraging pictures to its advantage on your website.

Friendly and Approachable

Of course, legal matters are usually serious, and your clients are frequently involved in serious issues. Even still, legal clients are much more likely to hire a friendly face that seems approachable than to hire someone who looks like they are arrogant or stiff and stern.

Prospective law clients may be scared and worried about the outcome of their legal issue; they want a compassionate individual that will support them while sympathizing with what they are going through. It’s your job to show them your firm has those people to help them, and one of the best ways to do that is through pictures.

Showcase Your Values and Benefits

Think about your law firm’s values and attempt to mirror them in your pictures.

For instance:

  • If you value authenticity, incorporate pictures of actual attorneys and employees on your website.
  • Don’t use pictures that might show clutter or stacks of boxes in the office if you appreciate organization and order.
  • If you value connectedness and functioning as a team, include some group photos with coordinating attire.You can also use images to highlight the extra benefits of hiring your firm. Maybe you want to show that your location is easily accessible, that there’s ample free parking, or a stunning view of the local scenery.

Add Captions for SEO

You might not realize that labeling your pictures with captions adds more content for SEO purposes. An accurate description of the photograph, along with some additional keywords or phrases, will boost your law firm SEO, increasing your firm’s opportunity to be found. However, make sure all your pictures are correctly tagged with the person’s name or other helpful SEO info. For example:

  • For a picture of your office building, use the alt tag “XYZ Law Firm Building Brooklyn, NY”
  • For a picture of a particular attorney, use the alt tag “Jane Doe, San Francisco divorce lawyer”

What about Domain Names?

Although a domain name isn’t technically a part of law firm website design, it does tie into your overall law firm marketing efforts. Consider your chosen domain name carefully, but don’t spend too much time worrying about it.

Previously, some law firms attempted to get exact word matches for search engine rankings. URLs were more easily obtainable in the past, and this was easier to do. For instance, a lawyer specializing in personal injury law in New York might get the domain newyorkpersonalinjuryattorney.com.

However, search engines have made countless algorithm updates throughout the last several years, and this is no longer a recommended practice. Suppose you can’t find an available URL that matches your firm or practice name. In that case, you can find an alternative URL that includes or compliments the name.

Stay away from lengthy domain names for law firm websites. Just because your firm has six named equity partners doesn’t mean your domain must include all their names. Some firms like this shorten their URL to the name of the first partner.

Finally, think about how the URLs on your law firm’s site will appear to search engines and real people. Whenever you can, use natural-sounding names for your URLs and titles.

Ethical Considerations for Law Firm Websites

Marketing your law firm online provides a significant growth opportunity. However, doing so also requires responsibility for attorneys and their law firms.

An attorney must ensure that their firm relies only on ethical, legal marketing practices, including anything on their law firm website. You must be well-versed in your jurisdiction’s rules and look to the American Bar Association (ABA) model rules of professional conduct for guidance. Doing so will help you remain compliant with your ethical obligations as an attorney while continuing to grow your firm.

Remember these ethical considerations for law firm website design and online marketing:

Be familiar with the rules. The easiest way to break the rules is not having knowledge of them— it’s essential to learn and follow the ethics and regulations related to law firm marketing and client communication when marketing your firm online.

Avoid common mistakes in the following areas:

  • Testimonials: Testimonials help you highlight former clients’ positive experiences, but unfortunately, they also create opportunities to break ethical rules accidentally. Many ethics rules govern the use of testimonials, so it’s crucial to ensure you include the appropriate disclaimers for your jurisdiction if you include testimonials on your firm website.
  • Blogs: Law firm blogs are increasingly popular. However, some state bars, including California’s, have issued ethical opinions that they are indeed advertising. This means attorneys are required to label it as advertising and retain copies of their blog posts for two years, along with other ethical requirements.

Whether you are a personal injury law firm, boutique corporate law firm, small law firm, or practice family law, the best law firm websites will improve SEO, garner qualified leads, provide for strong branding, bring in new clients, and establish credibility. While establishing a new website can be challenging, it’s essential in today’s legal industry.

Lessons from DoNotPay: The Ethical Implications of AI in the Legal Industry

Some shortcuts and hacks are worth it in life and business, and some simply aren’t. Some are harmless, appealing, less expensive, and time-saving in the beginning. Yet, they turn out to cause more problems and hassle than the situation presented initially without the shortcut. But, as one previously-aspiring attorney is coming to find out, AI in the legal realm is more of the latter—at least for now. So if you are an attorney or a marketing professional who works with attorneys, you’ll want to make a note of this case and learn from another’s mistakes instead of venturing down that path or similar ones yourself. 

The World’s First Robot Lawyer

San Fransisco’s DoNotPay is “the world’s first robot lawyer,” according to founder, CEO, and software engineer Joshua Browder. The tech company was founded in 2016 by Browder, a Stanford University undergraduate and 2018 Thiel Fellow who has received a remarkable amount of media attention in his short career. Browder says he started the company after moving to the U.S. from the U.K. and receiving many parking tickets that he couldn’t afford to pay. Instead, he looked for loopholes in the law he could use to his advantage to find ways out of paying them.

He claims that the government and other large corporations have conflicting rules and regulations that only stand to rip off consumers. With DoNotPay, his goal is to give a voice to the consumer without consumers having to pay steep legal fees. According to the company’s website, they use artificial intelligence (AI) to serve approximately 1,000 cases daily. Parking ticket cases have a success rate of about 65 percent, while Browder claims many other case types are 100 percent successful.

DoNotPay claims to have the ability to:

  • Fight corporations
  • Beat bureaucracy
  • Find hidden money
  • Sue anyone
  • Automatically cancel free trials

The company has an entire laundry list on its website of legal problems and matters its AI can handle, such as:

  • Jury duty exemptions
  • Child support payments
  • Clean credit reports
  • Defamation demand letters
  • HOA fines and complaints
  • Warranty claims
  • Lien removals
  • Neighbor complaints
  • Notice of intent to homeschool
  • Insurance claims
  • Identify theft
  • Filing a restraining order
  • SEC complaint filings
  • Egg donor rights
  • Landlord protection
  • Stop debt collectors

First Robot Lawyer

DoNotPay: Plagued with Problems

While his intentions might be relevant or even noble to some, they are landing Broward in his own legal hot water for which there may currently be no robot lawyer to represent him. 

State Bars Frown on AI in the Courtroom

In February, a California traffic court was set to see its first “robot lawyer” as Broward planned to have an AI-powered robot argue a defendant’s traffic ticket case in court. If his plan had come to fruition, the defendant would have worn smart glasses to record court proceedings while using a small speaker near their ear, allowing them to dictate appropriate legal responses. 

This unique and innovative system relied on AI text generators, including the new ChatGPT and DaVinci. While in the courtroom, the AI robot would process and understand what was being said and generate real-time responses to the defendant. Essentially, they could act as their own lawyer with the help of DoNotPay’s robot lawyer— a technology that has never been used within a courtroom. 

Many state bars and related entities quickly expressed their extreme disapproval when they learned about Browder’s plans. Multiple state bars threatened the business, even threatening prosecution and prison time. For example, one state bar official reminded him that unauthorized practice of law is a misdemeanor in certain states that can come with a punishment of up to six months in county jail.

State bars license and regulate lawyers in their respective states, ensuring those in need of legal assistance hire lawyers who understand the law and know what they are doing. According to them, Browder’s AI technology intended for courtroom use is clearly an “unauthorized practice of law.”

DoNotPay is now under investigation by several state bars, including the California State Bar. AI in the courtroom is also problematic because, currently, courtroom rules for federal and many state courts don’t allow the recording of court proceedings. Even still, Broward’s company offered $1 million to any lawyer to have its chatbot handle a U.S. Supreme Court case. To date, no one has accepted his offer.

DoNotPay Accused of Fraud

As if being reprimanded by several state bars isn’t bad enough, Broward and DoNotPay are now facing at least one, if not multiple, class action suits. The silver lining is that perhaps Browder will finally get to test his robot lawyer in court. 

On February 13, 2023, Seattle paralegal Kathryn Tewson filed a petition with the NY Supreme Court requesting an order for DoNotPay and Broward to preserve evidence and seeking pre-action discovery. She plans to file a consumer rights suit, purporting that the company is a fundamental fraud.

What’s even more interesting is that Tewson notes in her filing that she consents to Browder using his robot lawyer to represent himself in this case and even seems to dare him to do so:

For what it is worth, Petitioner does and will consent to any application Respondents make to use their “Robot Lawyer” in these proceedings. And she submits that a failure to make such an application should weigh heavily in the Court’s evaluation of whether DoNotPay actually has such a product.

Through her own research, Tewson has accused Broward of not even using AI but piecing different documents together to produce legal documents for consumers who either believe they are receiving AI content or real attorney-generated content. Suppose DoNotPay is actually using AI, as Broward claims. In that case, it’s obviously not producing quality work products, and consumers are starting to notice. 

A Potential Class Action Lawsuit

As if these legal issues weren’t already enough, next on the DoNotPay docket is a potential class action lawsuit. On March 6, 2023, Jonathan Faridian of Yolo County filed a lawsuit in San Francisco seeking damages for alleged violations of California’s unfair competition law. Faridian alleges he wouldn’t have subscribed to DoNotPay services if he knew that the company was not actually a real lawyer. He asks the court to certify a class of all people who have purchased a subscription to DoNotPay’s service.

Faridian’s lawyer Jay Edelson filed the complaint on his behalf, alleging that he subscribed to the DoNotPay services and used the service to perform a variety of legal services on his behalf, such as:

  • Drafting demand letters
  • Drafting an independent contractor agreement 
  • Small claims court filings
  • Drafting two LLC operating agreements
  • An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission job discrimination complaint 

Faridian says he “believed he was purchasing legal documents and services that would be fit for use from a lawyer that was competent to provide them.” He further claims that the services he received were “substandard and poorly done.”

Edelson has successfully sued Google, Amazon, and Apple for billions. The NYT refers to him as the “most feared lawyer in Silicon Valley.”

When asked directly if DoNotPay would be hiring a lawyer for its defense or self-defending in court relying on its own tools, Browder said, “I apologize given the pending nature of the litigation, I can’t comment further.” Even still, he recently tweeted, “We may even use our robot lawyer in the case.”

A POTENTIAL CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

What Lawyers and Marketing Professionals Can Learn From DoNotPay’s Mistakes

Stanford professors say that Browder is “not a bad person. He just lives in a world where it is normal not to think twice about how new technology companies could create harmful effects.” Whether this is true or not remains to be seen. In the meantime, attorneys and marketing professionals have a lot they can glean from Broward’s predicaments. They certainly need to think twice about the potentially harmful effects of AI technology use for several reasons.

DoNotAI

The overarching theme that we can take away from Broward and his business’s legal predicaments is that AI isn’t something that law firms or attorneys (or even those aspiring to be in the legal profession) should dabble in, at least for now. It isn’t worth using AI, such as ChatGPT or Google’s new Bard, whether for online form completion like DoNotPay or marketing content like blogs or newsletters. You don’t want to give the impression that something was drafted or reviewed by a licensed attorney when in reality, it was essentially written by a robot. On the other hand, you also don’t want to be accused of piecing legal documents together or performing shoddy work as an attorney because you are using AI. 

While relying on AI might seem harmless in some areas, it could later prove problematic, as it has for Broward. For example, using AI for any of your work or marketing content could:

  • Tarnish your reputation in your community and with your colleagues and network
  • Have your actions called into question by your state bar association
  • Provide consumers with the wrong or simply invaluable information, proving disastrous for your marketing and SEO efforts
  • Lower your SEO rankings and decrease your potential client leads
  • Cause legal action for malpractice or fraud

Adhere to Professional Standards

Always remember to adhere to your professional standards and codes of conduct. If anything related to the use of AI seems questionable or unethical, treat it as such and steer clear of it. The use of AI as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a bona fide attorney, whether online, in the courtroom, or in representing your clients, isn’t acceptable under any state bar at the current time. Taking shortcuts that rely on AI isn’t worth facing professional consequences up to and including having your license suspended or terminated.

What This Means for Legal Content 

AI is permissible and even valuable for some minor legal content generation tasks, such as determining keywords or composing an outline. However, these new and still emerging technologies shouldn’t be used to draft entire blog posts, white papers, newsletters, eBooks, landing pages, or other online marketing copy. There are several reasons to avoid this:

  • AI-generated content may soon carry a watermark detectable by web browsers
  • We don’t yet know how Google will react to such content—although Google currently claims the quality of the content is more important than how it is produced, AI may not be generating quality content, and Google could change its stance at any point
  • State bars may view AI-generated marketing content as unethical or fraudulent
  • The use of AI-generated content could constitute the unauthorized practice of law in some states
  • AI content may provide incorrect information and come across as cold or impersonal, something attorneys definitely want to avoid when marketing to potential clients

Do You Need Help Producing Original Content?

If you are an attorney or marketing professional who needs help producing legal content, Lexicon Legal Content can help. Don’t cut corners and put yourself at risk by turning to AI-generated content. Our team of attorney-led writers can produce valuable content for your website or other marketing efforts that pass not only plagiarism detection but also AI detection. All content is either written or reviewed by a licensed attorney. Talk to a content expert today about we can meet your legal content needs. 

FAQs: Can Lawyers Use AI-Generated Content for Marketing?

Right now, it’s nearly impossible to have a discussion about digital marketing without mentioning ChatGPT or AI generally. The technology is undoubtedly amazing; it’s capable of answering questions, creating a business plan, and even writing essays. One of the most obvious potential use cases for the newest generation of AI tools is content creation – but is it a good idea to use it? Let’s dig in and see what the issues are….

Can I Post AI-Generated Content on My Website?

Yes, you can. That said , the last thing you should do is post AI-generated content on your legal site without significant oversight and review. On February 8, 2023, Google clarified its position on AI-generated content. In short, it said that using AI-generated content is not against its guidelines. Like other forms of content, it will rank well if it is helpful for people searching for information. Additionally, as clarified in March of 2024, if you use AI to create content in an attempt to “game” SEO, your site will likely be penalized.

Should I Use AI Content?

As the old adage goes, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. If your site deals with topics that can affect your money or your life (YMYL, in Google’s parlance), it will scrutinize your site’s content more closely. Specifically, it will look closely for signals that demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-E-A-T).

YMYL sites include sites that relate to topics like medicine, finance, and law. As a result, it’s critical for lawyers to ensure that the content on their site is accurate, helpful, and in compliance with the rules of professional conduct. If you are using AI to generate content, it’s imperative that you (or someone with the necessary expertise) review every word of it before you post it on your website. At that point, it becomes a legitimate question as to whether using AI to create long-form legal content is truly more efficient than human writing.

If you need 100-word product descriptions for kitchen appliances, you’re likely fine to use AI to generate them and post them with a cursory review. If you are creating long-form blog content on complicated legal topics, you probably want to have more human involvement and oversight in content creation.

How Can AI Help in the Content Creation Process?

That said, there are certainly ways in which AI tools can help content creators make the process more efficient. Some of the ways that you can use AI to help in content creation ethically and without creating more work include:

  • Blog topic ideation
  • Client persona identification
  • Keyword research
  • Content outlining
  • Basic legal research
  • Getting over writer’s block

Is AI-Content Well-Written?

Whether you think AI-generated content is well-written depends on what you believe makes content “good.” To many people, it’s just too generic and “clean” to qualify as good content. The reality is that law firms and other professional service providers have a brand identity that they want their content to reflect, and content generated by artificial intelligence lacks the personality that achieves that goal.

Is AI-Content Bar-Compliant?

There is no guarantee that the content created by AI will be compliant with the rules of your state bar. It may make statements that inadvertently guarantee a favorable outcome, it may suggest that you are a “specialist” or an “expert,” and it may even provide incorrect information. Furthermore, it’s possible that some state bars may hold the position that using AI-generated content without oversight is, per se, a violation of the rules of professional conduct. 

In Conclusion…

If you are a law firm or a digital marketing agency that works with law firms, AI can certainly help you in your efforts. That said, you should be certain that there is a significant amount of expert oversight in the process. Using AI to mass-produce content and posting without review can land you in hot water with Google and even your state bar.

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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