Can You Use ChatGPT to Write Legal Blogs?

Can You Use ChatGPT to Write Legal Blogs?

ChatGPT – the conversational AI model released by OpenAI in November 2022 – has captured the attention of people in every industry throughout the world. According to some, ChatGPT and other generative AIs are about to fundamentally change the world, take our jobs, and usher in a dystopian future. On the other hand, some observers think that ChatGPT is a waste of time that people are going to mostly use as a toy.

As is usually the case, the reality of generative AI’s impact is probably somewhere in the middle of these two positions. That said, one thing is crystal clear – ChatGPT is capable of generating human-like content on a wide range of topics in a matter of seconds. This generative capability clearly has wide-ranging implications in academia as well as the workplace – and these implications are particularly salient for people in white-collar positions in which their work product is typically written material. 

Since ChatGPT doesn’t have a law license (despite doing really well on the UBE), the lawyers are safe for now. That said, law firms and marketing teams are looking into whether it can do other non-practice-oriented tasks, such as creating marketing materials.

So, can you use ChatGPT for law firm marketing? Let’s take a look and find out.

What is ChatGPT?

While you’ve undoubtedly heard of it- what exactly is ChatGPT? One way to find out is by asking ChatGPT itself:

A screenshot of ChatGPT responding to a prompt to explain what ChatGPT is

Okay; here’s the plain English version – ChatGPT is an AI built on a large language model that can provide human-like responses to human inputs. For example, you could ask it to provide information, create a meal plan, plan a vacation – or – answer legal questions.

Spending a few minutes playing with ChatGPT is an eye-opening experience. At first blush, it’s easy to see how generative AI could change everything. For many people, using ChatGPT for the first time results in a series of existential questions – What happens to the college essay? What is the point of learning anything? Will this take my job? Do humans have to do anything anymore?

Undoubtedly, the tech has the potential to be extremely disruptive, but some of the apocalyptic prognosticating seems to already be dying down. For example, rather than banning it, some teachers have started to integrate ChatGPT into their lesson plans. People have realized that students can still demonstrate their knowledge by in-class testing or essay writing. Furthermore, many people now view AI as a way for professionals to improve their efficiency rather than a replacement for human expertise.

So, back to the question – can lawyers use ChatGPT or other generative AI models for legal marketing? The short answer is yes –  provided there is significant human oversight.

In fact, lawyers may have an ethical duty to stay on top of generative AI technology like ChatGPT. Most states have adopted Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which requires a lawyer to “keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education with all continuing legal education requirement to which the lawyer is subject” [emphasis added]. ethical duty

ChatGPT and other generative AI models can help lawyers and their marketing teams accomplish certain tasks more quickly. That said, you should be aware of the limitations of the technology and the ways in which using it may cause problems.

It Can Provide Incorrect Information

ChatGPT can provide incorrect information – a problem that its creators like to call “hallucination.” They are well aware of this problem and even have a small disclaimer at the bottom of the page alerting users of this fact.

A screenshot of a disclaimer explaining that ChatGPT can provide incorrect information

If you are posting content on a law firm’s website, it has to be accurate. Incorrect information could result in significant consequences, including disciplinary action from the bar or even a malpractice lawsuit from a client who relied on it.

The Content May Be Plagiarized

ChatGPT runs on a Large Language Model (LLM), which is a type of AI that uses huge data sets to understand inputs and predict new content. In other words, ChatGPT uses existing content to figure out what word should come next. As a result, there is a substantial possibility that ChatGPT’s output can be extremely similar to existing content on the internet.

Additionally, it can produce very similar-sounding content to similar prompts. So, if you and another law firm (or hundreds of other law firms, as the case may be) ask it to spit out a 500-word legal blog post on “Common Types of Medical Malpractice,” the content it produces will likely be very similar to what other users are getting.

You Do Not Own the Content ChatGPT Produces

According to guidance issued by the United States Copyright Office in March of 2023, content produced by generative AI like ChatGPT is not eligible for copyright protection based on the “human authorship requirement.” In addition, there are multiple lawsuits going on from content creators alleging that generative AI using their works to create content is infringing. As Jonathan Grabb, Ethics Counsel for the Florida Bar, puts it – “utilizing an A.I. program to draft documents may not be risk free” when it comes to copyright and plagiarism issues.

ChatGPT Content Will Probably Not Demonstrate E-E-A-T without Significant Editing

When evaluating the quality of a page, it looks at the extent to which the content demonstrates experience, expertise, authority, and trust – E-E-A-T, in industry parlance. This is particularly true for sites that deal with issues related to the health, happiness, financial stability, and safety of users and society at large, which Google calls Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) sites.

Google makes it clear that the most important element of E-E-A-T is trust, and there is a substantial possibility that posting AI-generated content without any oversight will result in untrustworthy pages. Some of the ways you can ensure that your content demonstrates E-E-A-T include:

  • Ensuring that any facts contained in the output are accurate
  • Linking to authoritative sources
  • Ensuring that the content provides useful information and is not just regurgitating existing content
  • Highlighting your expertise or credentials

Despite the significant issues raised above, ChatGPT and generative AI does have a place in law firm marketing. Some of the best use cases for the technology include the following:

Coming Up with Content  Ideas

When it comes to regular content creation, the hardest part can be coming up with topics to write about. This is true whether you are regularly adding practice area pages, posting blogs, or updating your social media accounts. ChatGPT is great at helping come up with content topics – you just need to know how to prompt it correctly. Fortunately, the team at Lexicon Legal Content has done the work for you. We’ve developed a free, AI-powered Legal Blog Topic Generator that is designed for use by lawyers and law firm marketing companies. 

Outlining Content

A screenshot of ChatGPT providing an outline for a blog about what to do after a bicycle accident

Another part of the content creation process where AI can really help is in outlining a piece of content. It can provide headings and subheadings and can even help to identify ancillary topics that your piece of content could address to make it more comprehensive. Here’s an example of its outline for a blog on what people should do after a bicycle accident:

Of course, not all of these points may be relevant or appropriate to post on a law firm blog, but it’s a good start. Once you have a good outline in place, it can make the process of content creation much faster.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writer’s block is real. Everyone on the Lexicon team has struggled with staring at a blank page and asking, “what the hell should I talk about?” at one point or another. Asking ChatGPT to create an outline or even write an introduction can help get past writer’s block and into the content creation process.

Summarizing Material & Generating Short-Form Content

Finally, another great use case of ChatGPT is summarizing longer content and generating short-form content that you can use for social media posts, meta descriptions, or other areas where you may need one or two sentences., ChatGPT’s generic and terse content is actually a benefit for short-form content blurbs,  as you are often dealing with word count restrictions and need to be efficient as possible.

For more than 10 years, Lexicon Legal Content has been helping law firms connect with legal consumers through the power of content marketing. We’ve developed millions of words of content for law firms and digital marketing agencies throughout the United States and Canada, and we’re committed to staying cutting edge of content marketing trends and tech. To learn more about our services, call our office today or send us an email through our online contact form.

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.

U.S. Copyright Office Issues Guidance on AI-Generated Works

Generative AI is happening, and it’s creating images, text, music, and other forms of content right now, as you read this. Some see this technology as a way to maximize human efficiency and productivity, while others view it as an existential threat to humanity. Regardless of where you come down on the issue, the reality is that generative AI is creating new content every day, and there are significant legal and ethical implications.

One of the most vexing questions is who owns the material generated by AI? In other words, if you use AI to create content, is it copyrightable?  If you ask ChatGPT, it tells you that:

A screenshot of ChatGPT

Not a very clear answer – maybe, and maybe not. Fortunately for content creators, the U.S. Copyright Office issued guidance on the subject on March 16, 2023. The TLDR version is this: works generated solely by AI are not copyrightable, but works generated by humans using AI might be.

The Authorship Requirement in Copyright

In its guidance, the Office reiterated its position that the term “author” excludes non-humans. For this reason, copyright can only protect works that are the result of human creativity.  In Article I, Section 8, The Constitution grants Congress the right to provide “authors” with an exclusive right to their “writings.”

The seminal case interpreting these terms is Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co v. Sarony. In that case, Napoleon Sarony had taken photos of Oscar Wilde, which Burrow-Giles Lithographic Company made copies of and marketed. The company’s position was that photographs could not be copyrightable works as they were not “writing” or produced by an “author” – therefore invalidating the Copyright Act Amendment of 1865, which explicitly granted copyright protection to photographs.

The Court rejected this argument, explaining that visual works such as maps and charts had been granted copyright protection since the first Copyright Act of 1790. In addition, even if “ordinary pictures” may simply be the result of a technical process, the fact that Sarony had made decisions regarding lighting, costume, setting, and other issues indicated that Sarony was, in fact, the author of an original work of art that was within the class of works that for which Congress intended to provide copyright protection.

In the opinion, the Court defined an author as “he to whom anything owes its origin; originator; maker; one who completes a work of science or literature.” Futhermore, as the decision repeatedly refers to authors as “persons,” human,” and a copyright as “the exclusive right of a man to the production of his own genius or intellect.”

Relying on this decision as well as subsequent cases, the Copyright Office has required that work have human authoriship in order to be copyrightable.

How the Copyright Office Applies the Authorship Requirement

When the Copyright Office receives a hybrid work that contains both human-created and AI-generated material, it considers whether the contributions of the AI are the result of mechanical reproduction or the author’s own original idea on a case-by-case basis.

The bottom line is that if a work is the result of simply feeding AI a prompt, it will not be copyrightable. From the guidance (footnotes omitted):

For example, if a user instructs a text-generating technology to “write a poem about copyright law in the style of William Shakespeare,” she can expect the system to generate text that is recognizable as a poem, mentions copyright, and resembles Shakespeare’s style. But the technology will decide the rhyming pattern, the words in each line, and the structure of the text. When an AI technology determines the expressive elements of its output, the generated material is not the product of human authorship. As a result, that material is not protected by copyright and must be disclaimed in a registration application.

Importantly, the guidance acknowledges that some works that include AI-generated material will have enough human authorship to qualify for copyright protection. According to the Office, if the material is sufficiently altered in a creative way, the end result could be a work of authorship subject to copyright protection.

Authors Can Use AI Tools to Create Copyrightable Works

The guidance makes clear that authors can create copyrightable works using AI and other technical tools. That said, people applying for copyright registration should disclose their use of AI and explain how the human author contributed to the work.

The emergence of generative AI has brought with it complex legal and ethical questions regarding ownership and copyright of AI-generated works. The recent guidance issued by the U.S. Copyright Office provides some clarity on the matter, but content creators should make an effort to stay informed on this rapidly-evolving area of law.

Note: ChatGPT was used in the editing process – and helped with the conclusion.