Mastering Law Firm Content Writing: A Guide to Crafting Engaging Legal Content

Mastering Law Firm Content Writing: A Guide to Crafting Engaging Legal Content

In the competitive world of marketing legal services, content writing plays a pivotal role in drawing in clients and establishing a firm’s authority. Below, we’ll guide delve into law firm content marketing techniques, offering insights and strategies to create impactful content that resonates with your audience.

The Importance of Law Firm Content Writing

Content writing for law firms is not just about filling up web pages; it’s an essential part of your marketing strategy. Compelling content can educate clients, build trust, and position your firm as an industry leader. But crafting content that speaks to potential clients while reflecting your firm’s expertise is no small feat.

Understanding Your Audience

Understanding your audience is essential before you start writing. Your clients are looking for reliable information that can help them make informed decisions. They might be stressed, confused, and seeking clarity about their legal issues. Your content should address these feelings directly, offering solutions and reassurance.

Topics That Matter

Choose topics relevant to your practice areas and your clients’ needs. Common content topics for law firms include:

  • Legal process explanations
  • Changes in law
  • Case studies
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Legal advice for specific situations

Each piece of content should be crafted with the intent to inform, engage, and guide your readers through their legal journey.

Crafting the Perfect Article

When writing an article for your law firm, consider these elements to enhance its effectiveness:

  • Title: The title should be catchy yet informative. Include keywords like law firm content writing to improve SEO and attract more readers.
  • Introduction: Set the tone of the article and briefly outline what the reader can expect to learn.
  • Body: Use clear, concise sentences. Break down complex legal concepts into digestible parts. Use Employ bullet points, headings, and subheadings for seamless navigation through the content.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the key points and encourage the reader to take action, whether contacting your firm for more information or reading related articles.

SEO Best Practices

SEO is critical in making sure your content reaches the right audience. Here are some tips for optimizing your law firm content:

  • Create content that demonstrates experience, expertise, authority, and trust (E-E-A-T)
  • Use relevant keywords throughout the article
  • Include internal links to other pages on your website to boost SEO and provide readers with more resources.
  • Optimize your meta descriptions and title tags with keywords to improve your visibility on search engines.

Consistency is Key

Consistency in tone and style helps in building a recognizable brand voice. Whether you choose a formal or conversational style, make sure it reflects your firm’s ethos and meets your audience’s expectations.

Engaging the Reader

Your content should aim to inform and engage. Use real-life examples, tell stories about past cases (while respecting confidentiality), and pose questions that make readers reflect on how the information applies to their situation.

Updating and Maintaining Content

Law is constantly evolving, and so should your content. Regularly update your articles to reflect the latest changes in law and policy. This helps maintain accuracy and boosts your SEO efforts, as search engines favor up-to-date content.

FAQs:

Legal content FAQ: Many question marks on a table top, some of which are illuminated.

Why is content writing important for law firms?

Content writing attracts potential clients, builds trust, establishes authority, and improves search engine visibility for law firms.

What topics should law firm content cover?

Law firm content should include explanations of legal processes, updates on laws, case studies, FAQs, and specific legal advice.

How can I optimize my law firm’s content for search engines?

Optimize content by using relevant keywords, updating meta descriptions and title tags, linking internally, and keeping the content current.

How often should firm content be updated?

Update law firm content at least annually or whenever there are significant changes in the law.

What tone and style are best for law firm content writing?

Use a professional yet accessible tone. Whether formal or conversational, keep the style consistent with the firm’s brand personality.

Effective law firm content writing is a powerful tool for elevating your firm’s online presence and client engagement. By understanding your audience, employing SEO strategies, and consistently producing quality content, your firm can establish credibility and authority in the legal field. Remember, in the realm of law, information is key, and being the best source of this information will set your firm apart. Contact us today to get started.

10 Tips to Help Legal Blog Writers Turn Readers into Clients

Legal blog writing is an extremely effective way to market your law firm online.  It can establish your firm as a leader in your practice area, improve your website’s rankings for various search terms, and lead to new professional opportunities. The return of an investment of time or money on blogging can be substantial – in fact, according to Hubspot, marketers that prioritize blogging see 13 times the ROI than businesses that don’t.

All of that said, law firm blogging is significantly different from blogging for other businesses. Not only is the legal market extremely competitive, but law firms are subject to substantial regulations regarding their advertising and marketing materials. In addition, there is a significant gap between getting people to read a blog post and getting them to become a paying client.  Here are 10 tips to help you do it.

1. Write for Legal Consumers

First things first – remember your audience. Legal consumers aren’t concerned about the newest developments in case law; they are worried about things like how they are going to pay their medical bills or who will get custody of their children after their divorce. Blogging is a great opportunity to target long-tail keyword phrases that consumers are searching for. If you answer legal questions that your clients are asking, there is a good chance that you’ll show up in the search results when they Google their questions. Some examples of blog topics that could answer common questions include:

  • Do I need a lawyer after a car accident?
  • What are the penalties for a first-time DUI?
  • Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 bankruptcy
  • How do I start an LLC?

2. Avoid “Legalese”

People looking for legal services typically are not lawyers or judges and likely have not gone to law school. As a result, you should avoid using legalese in your blog material. While you may know exactly what comparative negligence is, don’t assume your readers do. If you do use legal terms, explain them in a clear and concise way that your readers will understand.

3. Choose Catchy and Intriguing Headlines

Creating content is pointless if no one is reading it. One of the best ways to get people to click on your links is to use catchy and intriguing headlines. The unfortunate reality is that clickbait works. It’s a good practice to create titles and headlines that pique your readers’ interest and leave them wanting to learn more. Some examples of effective headlines include:

  • Don’t Make This Mistake after a Car Accident
  • Why Talking to the Insurance Company Yourself is a Bad Idea
  • Here Are the 4 Things You Should Do Before Filing for Divorce

4. Add Images

A super handsome black dog
Scout (AKA Scooter Libby, Disgraced Former Counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney)

According to digital marketing expert Jeff Bullas, posts with images get 94 percent more views than those without images, and it’s easy to understand why. Blog posts with images tend to receive more engagement for several reasons. Firstly, images capture the attention of readers and make the content visually appealing. They break up the text and create a more inviting reading experience. Additionally, images help to illustrate and clarify concepts, making the content easier to understand. They also evoke emotions, establishing a connection with readers and encouraging interaction.

A super cute tan and white dog
Sadie (AKA Marquis De Sade or Biz Markie)

5. Use SEO Best Practices

Your content isn’t going to convert readers into clients if nobody sees it. In order to maximize the chances of your blog posts ranking well in the SERPs, you should use search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Some of the most important of these include:

  • Using your target keyword at a 2-3 percent density
  • Link to external authoritative sources
  • Link internally to your other pages on your site
  • Use header tags for your subheadings
  • Demonstrate experience, expertise, authority, and trust (E-E-A-T)

6. Write for Digital Readers

People read text on screens differently than they read books or newspapers. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, 79 percent of users scan websites, and only 16 percent read word-for-word. As a result, you should structure your blog posts in a way that makes them scannable. Specifically, you should include:

  • Informative headings
  • Bulleted lists
  • Highlight keywords
  • One idea per paragraph

Importantly, scannable doesn’t mean short or lacking in substance. In a “your money or your life” (YMYL) area like law, it’s important for your content to demonstrate expertise, which often means longer content.

7. Link to Authoritative Sources

It’s a good practice to link to authoritative sources in your blog posts. For example, if you cite a state statute, you should link to your state’s official code. Similarly, if you use a legal term, you could link to Wikipedia (if there is an article on it) or a source like Cornell’s Legal Information Institute. Be sure not to link to seemingly informative websites like nolo.com, which are actually platforms for lawyer advertising. If you link to a source where other attorneys are running ads, you could inadvertently lose potential clients to them.

8. Don’t Focus on Length

Google has made it clear that there is no “right” word count for content. That being said, law is clearly a  YMYL area, which means that your content needs to demonstrate E-E-A-T. Demonstrating experience, expertise, authority, and trust often requires discussing topics in detail, which in turn requires longer form content. For context, we regularly create web pages in the range of 4000-5000 words for clients in competitive markets, and our blogs are typically in the 1000-2000 word range.

9. Focus on How a Lawyer can Help the Reader

Remember that people who are reading your blog likely have a legal problem that they want someone to solve. So, even if you are writing a blog about how much a personal injury case is worth or what the penalties for a first-time DUI are, always bring it back to how a lawyer can likely provide a more favorable outcome. For example, in the personal injury valuation blog, address the factors that determine the value of a personal injury case, but then pivot to discussing how legal representation can maximize a settlement or award. Similarly, in the DUI example, discuss the potential penalties but then explain to the reader how a lawyer may be able to identify potential defenses or negotiate a plea bargain.

10. Include a Clear Call to Action

Your blog should end with a clear call to action. In fact, you should likely have a call to action “above the fold” – the part of your website that is visible without scrolling –  and one at the end of your article. Make it easy for your readers to contact you by including your phone number and a link to your contact us page.

Need Legal Content? Call Us Today

Here’s our call to action – if you need legal content, contact us today. The attorney-led team at Lexicon Legal Content creates blogs, practice area pages, press releases, and other forms of content for digital marketing agencies and law firms throughout North America. Call us at 877-486-8123 or contact us online.  You can also order content online or request a free sample here.

 

 

 

Google Considering Policy on E-E-A-T for AI Content

Roger Monti of Search Engine Journal recently reported that Google is forming a policy on how AI-generated content will interact with E-E-A-T, their framework for evaluating content. What they decide will almost certainly have a significant impact on content marketing, specifically in Your Money or Your Life (YMYL), like law, finance, and medicine.

What is E-E-A-T?

E-E-A-T is an acronym for experience, expertise, authority, and trust. It appears in Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, and Google identifies the elements of E–E-A-T as important considerations in Page Quality rating. While it is not a ranking factor directly, a page’s E-E-A-T will certainly affect its ranking, particularly in areas that can have a significant impact on a person’s health, safety, or well-being.

Here’s what Google has to say in it’s Rater Guidelines about experience as a part of E-E-A-T:

AI Doesn’t Have Experience with Anything

Since ChatGPT went viral in late 2022, people in every industry have been racing to figure out exactly how to integrate it into their workflows. Generative AI can do a lot of things; it can write college-level essays, categorize data, and even act as a chatbot for customer or client interactions. 

One obvious potential use case is using it to create marketing materials such as blog posts or website content. That said, marketers have been wary of AI content, and rightfully so. As recently as 2022, Google said that it categorized AI-generated content as spam and that it may take action against sites that have it. Since then, Google has changed its tune, saying that it is fine with AI-generated content so long as it is helpful.

The problem is that this guidance seems to be at odds with the principles of E-E-A-T. At this point, AI cannot claim to have experience with anything. Presumably, then, AI-generated content cannot generate content that aligns with E-E-A-T.

What Does Google Have to Say?

According to Monti, Google’s Gary Ilyes and others responded to various questions related to AI at Google Search Central Live Tokyo. Presenter and Japanese SEO expert Kenichi Suzuki then blogged about the event. According to the Search Engine Journal article reporting on Suzuki’s blog, Google had the following to say regarding AI-generated content and AI:

  • Google’s algorithms and signals are based on human content and, as a result, human-created content will rank higher than AI-generated content
  • Google is having internal discussions on how to deal with the fact that AI-generated content cannot align with E-E-A-T principles and will announce its policy once they settle on it

All of this uncertainty has many people in the content creation space wondering how to proceed, and the stakes are especially high in the legal industry. As of now, you can use AI to create content, but the last thing you should do is ask ChatGPT to write a blog titled “Don’t Make This Mistake after a Car Accident” and copy and paste the output into a blog. Some of the ways you can safely use AI to speed up the content creation process include:

  • Generating content ideas
  • Rewriting boilerplate sections of text (for example, using it to rewrite an existing call to action)
  • Getting over writer’s block
  • Proofreading
  • Generating lists
  • Outlining content

It’s critical to thoroughly review everything that AI spits out, as it regularly “hallucinates,” which is a nice way of saying it generates false information. As a cautionary tale, all you need to do is consider what happened to New York attorneys Peter LoDuca and Steven Schwartz. The two lawyers were recently ordered to each pay $5,000 and send a letter of apology to several judges named as authors of options after they filed a brief written by ChatGPT that cited fake nonexistent cases.

Lawyers and law firm marketing teams who want to use AI to make the content process more efficient should develop best practices regarding how and when to use it. At Lexicon Legal Content, we’re integrating AI into our process in various ways, from editing to content creation, all with full transparency. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you create content that ranks and generates new clients, call us today or contact us online.

Blogging for Lawyers: Driving Traffic and Boosting Your Reputation

In today’s digital age, establishing a strong online presence is crucial for lawyers. This is particularly true for attorneys and firms in highly competitive areas like personal injury and criminal defense.

Blogging offers an invaluable opportunity to showcase your expertise, engage with potential clients, and elevate your professional reputation. By consistently publishing high-quality content, you can position yourself as a thought leader in your field, attract a wider audience, and drive traffic to your website. In the highly competitive legal industry, blogging can give you a distinct advantage over the competition and open doors to new opportunities.

Understanding the Benefits of Blogging for Lawyers

Enhancing online visibility and brand awareness

Blogging allows lawyers to increase their online visibility and establish a strong brand presence. By consistently publishing informative and valuable content, you can attract the attention of search engines and improve your website’s search rankings. This means that when potential clients search for legal information or services related to your area of expertise, your blog posts are more likely to appear in the SERPs. As your blog gains visibility, it helps to build brand awareness, making you a trusted resource in the eyes of your target audience.

Establishing expertise and credibility

Blogging offers lawyers an excellent platform to showcase their expertise and establish credibility within their practice areas. By sharing insights, analysis, and practical advice through your blog posts, you demonstrate your deep understanding of legal concepts and your ability to provide valuable solutions to common legal challenges. Over time, this consistent display of expertise helps to build trust among your readers, positioning you as a go-to authority in your field.

Blogging allows lawyers to expand their professional networks and strengthen their reputation within the legal community. When you consistently share well-researched and insightful blog posts, you attract the attention of fellow legal professionals, including colleagues, judges, and influencers. This can lead to opportunities for collaboration, speaking engagements, and invitations to contribute to industry publications. By actively participating in the legal blogging community, you can enhance your professional reputation and position yourself as a respected authority in your practice area.

Identifying Your Target Audience and Topics

Before diving into blogging, it’s essential to identify and define your target audience. Consider the specific demographic, legal needs, and interests of the clients you want to attract. Are you focusing on individuals seeking personal injury representation or businesses in need of corporate legal advice? By understanding your target audience, you can tailor your blog content to their needs, making it more relevant and engaging.

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, it’s time to research and identify topics that will resonate with them. Keep up with current legal trends, industry news, and common legal issues your audience may face. Explore the questions and concerns they might have and address them through your blog posts. By providing valuable and informative content that directly addresses their needs, you can establish yourself as a go-to resource for legal information. 

Additionally, you can use blogging as a chance to answer specific client questions (and get your blog to show up for long-tail keywords). Use your experience with your clients to brainstorm ideas for topics based on the questions they often ask. Some examples of blog topics that answer specific questions include:

  • How long do I have to file a car accident claim?
  • Who will get the kids in a divorce?
  • What are the consequences of marijuana possession?
  • Do I need a lawyer to file an insurance claim?

Sometimes, coming up with blog topics is the hardest part of the process. Fortunately, we’ve built a free AI Legal Blog Topic generator that can provide practice area and state-specific blog topics to get you past the blank page.

While it’s important to cater to your audience’s interests, it’s equally important to select topics that highlight your expertise as a lawyer. Identify areas within your practice where you excel and possess specialized knowledge. These topics should showcase your unique insights and perspectives, setting you apart from competitors. By demonstrating your expertise through well-crafted blog posts, you position yourself as a trusted authority in your field and attract clients seeking specific legal expertise.

Crafting Engaging and Informative Content

When crafting blog content as a lawyer, it’s important to write in a clear and concise manner. Avoid using complex legal jargon that may confuse or alienate your readers. Instead, strive for a conversational tone that is easily understandable by both legal professionals and the general public. Break down complex concepts into digestible, straightforward explanations, providing practical examples to illustrate your points effectively.

To engage your readers and make your blog posts more compelling, consider incorporating storytelling techniques. Humanize the legal concepts by sharing relevant anecdotes, case studies, or client success stories. Tell stories that resonate with your audience, highlighting the challenges, solutions, and positive outcomes. This not only makes your content more relatable but also keeps readers engaged and interested in your blog.

While it’s important to avoid overwhelming your readers with excessive legal terminology, there are instances where using specific legal terms is necessary and expected. Be mindful of your audience and the context in which you’re using legal terminology. When necessary, provide clear definitions and explanations to ensure your readers understand the meaning and implications of these terms. Balancing accessibility with accuracy is key to effectively communicating legal concepts.

Conducting Keyword Research

Keyword research is a critical step in optimizing your blog posts for search engines. Identify relevant keywords and phrases that your target audience is likely to use when searching for legal information or services. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz to discover popular keywords with reasonable search volumes and relatively low competition. Incorporate these keywords strategically throughout your blog posts to increase your chances of ranking higher in search engine results.

Incorporating Keywords Naturally into Your Content

When incorporating keywords into your blog posts, it’s important to do so naturally and seamlessly. Avoid keyword stuffing, as it can negatively impact readability and user experience. Instead, focus on incorporating keywords in your titles, headings, subheadings, and within the body of your content in a way that sounds natural and relevant. This helps search engines understand the context of your content and improves your chances of ranking for targeted keywords.

Writing Compelling Meta Descriptions and Titles

Meta descriptions and titles play a crucial role in attracting users to click on your blog post when it appears in search engine results. Craft compelling and concise meta descriptions that accurately summarize the content of your blog post while enticing users to click and read more. Similarly, create attention-grabbing titles that include relevant keywords and pique curiosity. A well-optimized meta description and title can improve your click-through rate and drive more traffic to your blog.

Optimizing Images and Headings

In addition to textual optimization, it’s important to optimize images and headings within your blog posts. Use descriptive file names for your images and include alt text that describes the image content using relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand the visual elements of your blog post. Similarly, utilize headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content and make it more scannable for both readers and search engines. Incorporate keywords naturally within your headings to further optimize your blog posts.

Promoting Your Blog and Driving Traffic

Sharing Blog Posts on Social Media Platforms

One effective way to promote your blog and drive traffic is by sharing your blog posts on social media platforms. Create social media accounts for your legal practice or personal brand and actively engage with your audience. Share snippets or teasers of your blog posts, along with captivating captions and relevant hashtags. Encourage your followers to visit your blog for the full content. Additionally, participate in legal discussions and engage with other professionals and influencers in your field to expand your reach.

Participating in online legal communities and forums is a valuable strategy to promote your blog and drive traffic. Seek out platforms where legal professionals and individuals seeking legal advice gather to exchange knowledge and information. Share your expertise, offer valuable insights, and provide links to relevant blog posts when appropriate. By establishing yourself as a helpful and knowledgeable contributor, you can attract the attention of potential clients and drive traffic back to your blog.

Backlinks are links from other websites that direct users back to your blog. They not only drive direct traffic but also improve your blog’s search engine rankings. Actively seek opportunities to incorporate backlinks to your blog in relevant content, such as guest posts, industry publications, or legal directories. Ensure that the backlinks are natural and contextual, adding value to the content in which they are placed. This helps to increase your blog’s visibility, credibility, and traffic.

In Conclusion

Blogging for lawyers offers numerous benefits, including enhancing online visibility, establishing expertise, building relationships with potential clients, and strengthening your reputation within the legal community. By identifying your target audience and selecting relevant topics, you can create valuable content that resonates with your readers. Crafting engaging and informative blog posts, optimizing them for search engines, and actively promoting your content through social media, online communities, and collaborations helps drive traffic to your blog.

As you embark on your blogging journey, remember that consistency, quality, and relevance are key. Regularly publishing well-crafted blog posts, engaging with your readers, and staying up-to-date with legal trends and industry developments will help you maintain a strong online presence and solidify your reputation as a knowledgeable and reliable legal professional.

Embrace the opportunities that blogging provides to connect with a broader audience, showcase your expertise, and differentiate yourself from competitors. Whether you are just starting or looking to enhance your existing blog, the strategies and best practices outlined in this guide can help you drive traffic, boost your reputation, and achieve your professional goals.

Start leveraging the power of blogging for lawyers today, and see how it can transform your online presence and contribute to your long-term success.

As a busy practicing attorney, there is a good chance that you just don’t have the time to consistently write, publish, and optimize blog posts. Fortunately, we’re here to help. The attorney-led team of professional content writers at Lexicon Legal Content has helped hundreds of law firms with their content marketing efforts over the past decade. To learn more about how we can help you, call our office today or contact us online.

What Lawyers and Marketing Teams Should Know about Google’s Upcoming Helpful Content Update

Google is updating its search algorithm – again. While the company isn’t overtly saying that the change is in response to a potential flood of mediocre content created by generative AI, it isn’t hard to read between the lines. In its announcement, Google shared that it will be rolling the update out in the coming months. Specifically:

  • A  greater focus on content with unique expertise and experience
  • The update to the system will more deeply understand content from a personal or expert point of view

In addition, Google is looking into displaying content in the SERPs found in “unexpected places” like forums or blogs. Here’s what Google’s Danny Sullivan had to say about it on Twitter the other day:

So, how does this impact lawyers and their marketing teams? Can they use generative AI to create marketing content? We all know that Google looks to experience, expertise, authority, and trust (E-E-A-T) when it evaluates the quality of a page. We also know that Google’s systems evaluate content for “Your Money or Your Life” sites – such as law firm websites – much more closely for E-E-A-T than others.

Putting this all together, it is more critical than ever for law firms to create and post content that demonstrates a unique perspective and expertise in a particular matter. In addition, it increases the likelihood that a well-maintained blog or engagement in forums will result in content that appears in users’ search results.

How Can Lawyers and Law Firm Marketers Create Content that Ranks Well in the Helpful Content Update?

If you’re wondering how to create content with a good chance of getting Google’s attention, you’re in luck. Last August, Google provided guidance on how to create content that will be successful within the Helpful Content System.

First and foremost, you should be creating content for people, not for search engines. People-first content focuses on satisfying the reader and using SEO best practices secondarily. Some of the specific ways you can ensure that you are creating people-first content include:

  • Providing content that is useful for your intended audience
  • Creating content that clearly demonstrates first-hand expertise and depth of knowledge on the topic
  • Ensuring your site has a primary focus
  • Providing enough information to help consumers achieve their goal (which, for law firm websites, is connecting with a lawyer that can help them

Google is updating this guidance to focus on the importance of experience as an element of helpful content and helping users find “hidden gems.” What does this mean for lawyers, specifically?

Have a Robust About Us Page & Attorney Bios

Your about us page and attorney bios are a great place to showcase your firm’s expertise and experience. Make sure that you discuss the firm’s history, experience, and successes (if allowed in your jurisdiction). Also, be sure to highlight individual attorneys’ educational achievements, professional affiliations, accolades, and anything else that demonstrates expertise and experience.

Post on Your Blog Regularly

Blogging has always been an essential part of a comprehensive content marketing strategy, but this update may make it even more important to cover topics of interest to your potential clients in your blog posts. A blog is a great place to target specific questions your clients may be asking – also known as long tail keywords. Some examples of specific search phrases you could target in your blog include:

  • Who Will Cover My Medical Bills after a Car Accident?
  • Is Student Loan Debt Dischargeable in Bankruptcy?
  • What Do California Courts Look for in Child Custody Cases?
  • How Does a Plea Bargain Work in a DUI Case?

By posting content that answers questions like these on your website, you are more likely to connect with legal consumers looking for the same legal services you provide.

Creating helpful, accurate, and compelling content takes significant time – as does staying on top of Google’s content guidelines. If you are a busy practicing lawyer, it’s extremely likely that you don’t have time to do it.

Fortunately, the attorney-led team of professional legal writers at Lexicon Legal Content is here to help. We are obsessed with creating captivating and optimized legal content for lawyers and marketing agencies that work with law firms. To learn more about our services, contact our office today or email us through our online contact form.

Florida’s New Tort Reform

The Florida Legislature has changed the tort law in an effort to reduce frivolous lawsuits by limiting personal injury cases, insurance litigation, and attorney fees. These sweeping changes are uprooting the landscape of Florida’s civil litigation and, among other things, will make it more difficult and expensive to sue insurance companies.

In short, the tort reform:

  • Decreases the statute of limitations from four to two years in general negligence claims.
  • Modifies Florida’s comparative negligence system from a “pure” comparative negligence system to a “modified” system (with the exception of medical negligence cases). As such, plaintiffs over 50 percent at fault for their own damages aren’t generally entitled to damages.
  • Establishes standards to assist in jury calculations of the actual amount of medical damages in both personal injury and wrongful death cases.
  • In negligent security cases, the business’s insurance company may be able to make the criminal entirely liable and not on the business that failed to protect customers.

The new law also does the following regarding bad faith claims:

  • Provides that negligence in and of itself is insufficient to support a bad faith claim. Instead, the insurer must not act solely based on their own interests in settlement.
  • Allows the bad faith or unfair actions of the claimant and their legal counsel to be considered when examining the insurer’s actions.
  • Makes insurance companies immune to bad faith actions if they tender either the amount demanded by the claimant or the policy limits, whichever is lesser, within 90 days of receiving actual notice of a claim, provided there is adequate evidence to justify the disputed amount.
  • When multiple claimants and limited policy limits exist in a single claim, the insurer can now file an interpleader action or use binding arbitration to determine how the limited policy limits are split up among the claimants to prevent bad faith claims.

Tort Reform Fast-Tracked in Florida

Governor Ron DeSantis proposed the tort reform changes in February before the new legislative session began. Florida’s new tort reform law was then presented at the beginning of Florida’s current legislative session, and, as expected, DeSantis swiftly signed it into law. 

In the Florida House, the bill passed with an 80-31 vote. The only member to cross party lines was Rep. Paula Stark, a Republican from St. Cloud who voted against the bill.

The Florida Senate voted 23-15 in favor of the bill. These Republicans voted no: 

  • Jennifer Bradley of Northeast Florida
  • Jason Brodeur, representing Seminole and part of Orange counties
  • Erin Grall of East Central Florida
  • Joe Gruters, representing Sarasota and part of Manatee County
  • Jonathan Martin, representing part of Lee County

The single Democrat to vote in favor of the bill was Linda Stewart of Orange County.

Opponents of the new tort reform argue that it won’t help lower insurance premiums. Instead, they will hurt people seeking compensation from businesses that have harmed them. DeSantis said the tort reform was essential “to protect Floridians, safeguard our economy and attract more investment in our state.”

Now effective, the law “returns Florida’s tort system to fundamental American judicial principles that the most responsible pay for the damages they caused,” Representative Tommy Gregory said.

Leaders from both Florida Legislature’s chambers supported the reform effort, which was similar to the strategy used for property insurance reforms from the legislative December special session. Leaders predict the bill’s impacts as a boon to the state’s economy. However, many opponents to Florida’s new tort reform are concerned about consumer and plaintiff rights. 

Changes Under House Bill (HB) 837

House Bill (HB) 837, titled Civil Remedies, according to Gov. Desantis’ office, modifies the “bad faith framework, eliminates one-way attorney’s fees and fee multipliers, and ensures that Floridians can’t be held liable for damages if the person suing is more at fault.” The hope is that insurance rates will decrease, although there is no mandate providing for this in the bill.

“Florida has been considered a judicial hellhole for far too long, and we are desperately in need of legal reform that brings us more in line with the rest of the country,” DeSantis said. “I am proud to sign this legislation to protect Floridians, safeguard our economy, and attract more investment in our state.”

Changes under the legislation will apply to causes of action accruing after the effective date of March 24, 2023. The significant changes include:

Decreased Statute of Limitations

HB 837 also amends section 95.11, Florida Statutes, regarding the statutes of limitations for various civil causes of action. The statute of limitations for general negligence has decreased from four to two years. 

As a result, plaintiffs and their attorneys will prepare their cases and assess the validity of their claims at an earlier point in the case. The change may also increase the ability to gather evidence closer to the date of the alleged incident in many cases.

Additionally, plaintiffs may be deterred from filing suit sooner in contested liability cases. The new two-year statute of limitations could also help leverage earlier settlements and resolutions of claims, especially during the pre-suit phase.

A Modified Comparative Negligence Standard

This law changes Florida’s comparative negligence standard from “pure” comparative negligence to “modified” comparative negligence. Florida joins the majority of the other states that already subscribe to a “modified” comparative negligence standard. However, this doesn’t apply in medical negligence cases.

Before this round of tort reform, plaintiffs could recover a percentage of their damages proportionate to the defendant’s degree of fault. Now under “modified” comparative negligence, if a plaintiff is more negligent than the defendant, they can’t recover anything. So, for instance, if someone is 51 percent at fault for causing a car accident, they can’t recover damages from it. Previously, if they had been 99 percent at fault, they were still entitled to recovery for the other one percent of their damages. 

Evidence Admissibility for Medical Expenses

HB 837 also modifies evidence plaintiffs rely on to establish their past and future medical expenses in a civil injury claim. Under the previous law, plaintiffs were allowed to claim the total amount of medical bills charged for services rendered outside of services paid by Medicare or Medicaid. They didn’t need to show evidence of adjustments or reductions made by their insurance company. Plaintiffs covered under Medicare or Medicaid could only use the amounts actually paid by Medicare or Medicaid as evidence of past medical expenses. 

Under the new tort reform, the evidence proving the amount of damages for past medical bills that have been paid is limited to the evidence of the amount actually paid, no matter the source of payment. Admissible evidence for unpaid past medical bills will depend on if the party bringing the legal action has health care coverage, Medicare, or Medicaid as follows: 

  • If they have health care insurance but obtain treatment under a letter of protection or they don’t submit charges, they can admit evidence of the amount that health insurance would have paid to satisfy charges, plus their share of medical expenses. Reasonable amounts billed to the plaintiff for medically-necessary treatment or services are also admissible as evidence. 
  • If they don’t have health insurance, or they have Medicare or Medicaid coverage, they can admit evidence of 120 percent of the Medicare reimbursement rate.
  • If there is no applicable Medicare rate, 170 percent of the applicable state Medicaid rate is admissible as evidence.

Damages can’t include any amount exceeding the evidence of medical treatment and services expenses admitted. Claimed amounts also cannot exceed the amounts actually paid, amounts necessary to satisfy charges due, and those essential for reasonable and necessary future medical treatment and care. 

For future medical expenses, the “usual and customary” sum will depend on whether the plaintiff has health care coverage as follows: 

  • Suppose the plaintiff has health care coverage outside of Medicare or Medicaid. In that case, they can admit evidence of the amount that could be satisfied if charges were submitted, along with the portion of medical expenses under the insurance contract.
  • If the plaintiff doesn’t carry health insurance or has Medicare or Medicaid, evidence of 120 percent of the Medicare reimbursement rate in effect is admissible. 
  • If there is no applicable Medicare rate, 170 percent of the applicable state Medicaid rate is admissible as evidence.

In essence, there are now uniform standards to help juries calculate the actual amount of medical damages in civil personal injury and wrongful death cases. If an insurance company has paid a full medical bill for past services, the actual amount they paid is the only amount admissible at trial.

Disclosure of Letters of Protection and Referrals

If a plaintiff receives medical treatment under a letter of protection, an agreement to defer collection on a medical bill until the plaintiff recovers in a lawsuit, it must be disclosed, along with all bills for medical expenses. The new law also requires them to be itemized and coded. Plaintiffs must also disclose if they were referred for treatment under the letter of protection and who referred them.

If the plaintiff was referred for medical treatment under a letter of protection by their legal counsel, disclosure of the referral is allowed, notwithstanding the attorney-client privilege. Why? Because the financial affiliation between the law firm and the medical provider pertains to the issue of bias of the testifying medical provider. This portion overturns the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Ass’n, Inc., 228 So. 2d 18 (Fla. 2017).

Changes to the Law for Bad Faith Actions

The new laws also address bad-faith actions. For example, the insured and their representative now have a duty to act in good faith to attempt to settle a claim. If it goes to court, the trier of fact (judge or jury) can consider if good faith efforts were made. If they determine they were not, then they can reduce the amount of damages. In addition, negligence alone is insufficient for bringing a bad faith claim against an insurer.

Bad faith actions aren’t viable if the insurance company pays the lesser of the policy limits or the damages demanded by the plaintiff within 90 days after receipt of a notice of claim with sufficient evidence. If the insurance company doesn’t pay, the 90 days won’t be admissible in court for bad faith actions, and the statute of limitations extends for 90 days. 

If one occurrence leads to multiple claims, the insurer isn’t liable beyond the policy limits for failure to pay within 90 days as long as one of the following applies:

  • The insurer files an interpleader to identify rights of claims, and if they are in excess of the policy limits, claimants can then receive a pro-rated amount
  • The insurer provides the full policy limits available at binding arbitration, which provides a pro-rata share of the funds as the arbitrator decides, who should include comparative fault and the potential trial outcome in their decision. 

Negligent Security

For negligent security actions against owners or operators of real property brought someone legally on the premises who suffered harm by the criminal act of a third party, the judge or jury in the case now must consider the fault of all individuals who contributed to the injury or death, including the criminal. As such, the property’s owner or operator can’t be held liable for damages caused by a third party attempting to commit, or while committing, any criminal act on the property. 

 This bill also establishes a presumption against negligent security liability for “multifamily residential property” owners or operators if they meet the burden of proof demonstrating “substantial compliance” with such things as crime assessments, employee crime and safety training, and safety and security measures to include:

  • Active security camera systems at places of exit and entry that maintains retrievable video for at least 30 days
  • Lights in the parking lot from dusk to dawn
  • Lighting in common areas, walkways, proches, and laundry rooms from dusk to dawn
  • A deadbolt in every door that measures a minimum of one inch
  • Locking devices on every sliding door and window
  • Locked gates at pool fence areas 
  • A peephole or viewer on a door that doesn’t have a window or window next to the door

Changes to the Contingency Fee Multiplier

Under previous tort laws, courts could consider and award contingency fee multipliers to attorneys’ fees based on various factors such as:

  • The applicable market if contingency fee multipliers were required to obtain competent counsel
  • If the attorney mitigated the risk of nonpayment
  • The amount of fees involved
  • The final results obtained
  • The fee arrangement between the lawyer and client
  • The chances of success at the outset of the action

The new law creates a “strong presumption” that the “lodestar” fee, the number of hours a lawyer would have reasonably spent, and multiplying it by a reasonable hourly rate, is sufficient and reasonable. Only in rare and exceptional circumstances can this presumpting be overcome and the evidence must show that competent counsel couldn’t otherwise have been retained. 

Limited Applicability of One-Way Attorney Fees

Before the new law was enacted, “one-way attorneys’ fees” applied when the insured prevailed in an action against an insurance company. Since the law went into effect, they only apply to declaratory judgment actions for determining insurance coverage against an insurer after coverage is denied for a claim, excluding a defense under a reservation of rights. Suppose a declaratory judgment is granted for the insured against the insurer. In that case, the court shall award reasonable attorneys’ fees; however, they are still limited to those incurred in the action. 

Furthermore, section 768.79, Florida Statutes, the “offer of judgment” or “proposal for judgment” statute, applies to any civil action involving an insurance contract.

What Critics of Florida’s Tort Reform Say

Opponents of this year’s tort reform argue that it won’t lead to lower insurance rates and may negatively impact policyholders and their lawyers. Instead, they say that insurance companies will have an easier time avoiding or defending against lawsuits by policyholders claiming denial or low-balling of benefits. 

In addition, ordinary Floridians will face higher risks, less safety, and fewer options to hold wrongdoers accountable as the law removes the incentive for private businesses to take the necessary steps to keep their customers safe. The measure might also discourage trial attorneys from representing clients against insurance companies as it stands to constrain what they can garner in attorney fees sharply.

The legislation lacks any requirements for insurance companies to decrease their policyholder rates as a result of the substantive changes. This is only one reason the legislation has been criticized by trial attorneys and their clients, who argue that this reform goes too far and will cause a windfall for insurance companies.

Critics of the newly signed legislation also say the new law itself will likely face a lawsuit.

Florida’s Civil Courts Inundated with New Case Filings

Plaintiffs in recent civil cases were in a race against the clock when the legislative process wrapped up on March 24th when the governor signed the bill into law, which took effect immediately.

Last year in March, Orange County reported under a thousand circuit civil lawsuit filings. Contrastly, 9,194 cases were filed before Florida’s governor signed the new bill into law before the end of March this year. As of March 28, 2023, 4,097 were still being processed.

In Seminole County, 285 circuit civil suits were filed last March, compared to 1,856 this March. Osceola County’s civil lawsuit filings increased from 158 in March of 2022 to 1,679 this March. Some lawyers estimate that 100,000 civil cases were filed statewide in March alone, mainly because the new law is considered unfavorable to attorneys and their clients.

Statewide, data from the Florida Courts E-Filing Portal (responsible for maintaining a statewide court registry) show that a total of 90,593 circuit civil cases were filed between March 17 and March 22 in Florida. This figure equals 77 percent of the 118,179 cases filed between January 1 and March 22.

Meanwhile, in South Florida’s tri-county area, 23,666 circuit civil cases were filed between March 17 and 24, representing 71 percent of the 33,315 filed in 2023 through March 22. The dramatic rise in case filings has caused staffers throughout the state to work overtime and administrators to implement measures to limit expected delays. 

Attorney and founder of the personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan, John Morgan, shared with the South Florida Sun Sentinel that his legal teams filed about 25,000 of these civil suits before the bill took effect. He described it as “a Herculean effort” and then went on to express that not to do so would have been “legal malpractice.”

A civil defense lawyers association requested Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz in a letter dated March 23, 2023, to issue an emergency declaration providing defendants additional time to respond to the downpour of litigation. Supreme Court spokesperson Paul Flemming told the public a few days later that Muñiz knows about their issues and “is trying to decide what the best course of action would be.”

HB 837 immediately took effect upon becoming law. However, it should be noted that many of the changes will apply only to causes of action filed after the law’s effective date, which is why so many were in a hurry to file cases earlier in March. 

The change to the statute of limitations for negligence actions also applies to causes of action accruing after the effective date. Regarding insurance contracts, the law may not be used to impair consumer rights under insurance contracts arising before the effective date. However, the legislative changes will only apply to insurance contracts issued or renewed after the law’s effective date.

What’s Next?

Whether the new law faces legal action is yet to be seen. There’s no denying that some parties will benefit more than others from these changes. Still, the full effects of changes and their benefits or consequences won’t be known for some time. No matter how courts, attorneys, lawmakers, consumers, policyholders, or businesses think about Florida’s new tort reform, the fact remains that the change has happened, and they must move forward together. All involved parties will need to make some adjustments to their practices, some more than others. Consumers and policyholders should seek counsel from an experienced attorney as soon as they suspect they have legal matter on their hands.

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.

Why Lawyers Should Promote Their Awards in their Blog Posts

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

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

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

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

Awards Set You Apart from Other Attorneys

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

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

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

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

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

Awards and New Attorneys

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

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

Highly Decorated and Experienced Attorneys

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

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

Tips for Writing an Award Blog Post

Follow the Award Advertising Guidelines

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

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

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

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

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

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

Include All Recognitions Awarded to Lawyers in Your Law Firm

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

Comply with Your State’s Ethics Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Forget Local or Regional Awards

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

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

Stay Away from Paid Recognitions

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

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

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

Don’t Just Post Award Announcements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Google Issues New Guidance on AI-Generated Content

Earlier today, Google issued guidance on how it views AI-Generated content. The TLDR version is that AI content is not inherently against guidelines and can be used effectively, provided that it is helpful and is not created in an attempt to manipulate search results. According to Google’s blog, this clarification does not reflect a change in its long-standing policy:

When it comes to automatically generated content, our guidance has been consistent for years. Using automation—including AI—to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies.

In addition, Google points out that AI-generated content can be helpful:

This said, it’s important to recognize that not all use of automation, including AI generation, is spam. Automation has long been used to generate helpful content, such as sports scores, weather forecasts, and transcripts. AI has the ability to power new levels of expression and creativity, and to serve as a critical tool to help people create great content for the web.

What Does This Mean for Legal Content Marketing?

While Google is claiming that its position on AI-generated content has been consistent, the fact is that this policy is in direct opposition to Search Advocate John Mueller’s April 2022 statement that AI-generated content is spam. Clearly, AI-generated content can be created faster and more cheaply than hiring a team of specialized copywriters – so should law firms and legal marketers rush to mass produce AI content now that Google has explicitly said it’s not against its guidelines?

AI-Content Tools Provide a Good Starting Point

The fact remains that there are significant issues with using AI tools like ChatGPT to generate content. It can hallucinate facts and may not be aware of current events. That said, it’s a good tool for ideating blog topics, creating outlines, and even conducting basic legal research. The fact remains that any content generated by AI needs to be reviewed by someone who is familiar with relevant law and the ethical rules regarding attorney advertising.

Google Treats YMYL Content Differently

Google has overtly stated that certain sites – those that deal with issues related to “your money or your life” – have a extremely high Page Quality rating standard. This means that content on topics that have a high risk of harm to someone’s health, financial stability, safety, welfare, or well-being is more closely scrutinized for it’s E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authority, and trust). In Google’s own words:

On topics where information quality is critically important—like health, civic, or financial information—our systems place an even greater emphasis on signals of reliability.

As a result, if you are publishing legal content – which falls into the YMYL category – it’s especially important to demonstrate E-E-A-T. As a result, any content that you publish on your legal site should be thoroughly reviewed by a human being who has expertise in the area.

Ultimately, Google has this to say about whether you should use AI to generate content:

If you see AI as an essential way to help you produce content that is helpful and original, it might be useful to consider. If you see AI as an inexpensive, easy way to game search engine rankings, then no.

We’re On It

At Lexicon Legal Content, our team has been integrating AI into our processes for several years, and we’re committed to staying on the cutting edge of how AI tools can improve our content and deliver more value to our clients. To learn more about our offerings, call us today to speak with a legal content marketing expert.

Google Update Impacts Legal Content Marketing

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

2024 Update: Google added another “E” to E-A-T, for experience. This move come just weeks after the release of ChatGPT and the rise of AI-generated content.

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

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