Several pundits declared 2017 “the year of artificial intelligence,” and with good reason. AI has entered our lives in so many ways, from how we interact with our phones to Amazon knowing what we’re likely to buy. But when it comes to legal marketing, 2017 was in many ways “the year of AI hype.” Nonetheless, I am confident that AI will transform much, much more in our lives and businesses for many years to come.
Five Ways to Get Ready for the AI Transformation
For 2018, I suggest five imperatives for legal marketers.
1. Implement AI in your legal marketing per se. Other industries are far ahead of us in terms of AI-driven content; use of AI in websites, chatbots and social media; AI for boosting CRM; incorporating big data into pricing decisions; programmatic ad buying; and predictive pitching. These are all relevant to legal marketing, and taking the lead from other industries can make us much more effective marketers.
It’s all about the data. As with everything AI-related, these applications require first getting a handle on your firm’s data and making sure it’s clean, comprehensive, current and connected. This includes data from within your firm (like your CRM and billing systems) and from external sources such as LexisNexis and ALM.
2. Encourage your firm to implement AI in parts of its practice of law. It’s not too late for your firm to be perceived as an early adopter of AI, and lots of clients will appreciate working with a firm that “gets it” regarding this intimidating new technology.
Some components of law practice where external vendors offer AI-based products or services are:
- Contract analysis and drafting
- Legal research
- Analytics and prediction
- Expertise automation
Implementing in these areas can help firms get a significant leg up on other law firms, alternative legal service providers and even in-house legal departments.
3. As your firm implements AI, become conversant with how its use serves clients (i.e., better, faster and cheaper legal services). You can’t effectively sell what you don’t understand. So you will need to learn exactly how the firm uses AI in its practice, and develop a benefits statement to use in your marketing. Whenever the firm begins to work with an AI vendor or successfully uses AI in a client engagement, issue a news release showing the world that your firm “gets it” and is using this technology for the benefit of your clients.
4. Encourage the firm to launch an AI-related industry group. AI and related industries are generating a large amount of legal work, and this will not abate in the foreseeable future. A Google search should convince you that currently, few law firms are focused on this industry. The opportunities for legal work arise in several ways:
- More AI companies are springing up every week, and successful ones are being acquired. Each startup and transaction requires deal work and involves associated tax, contracts, real estate and executive compensation issues.
- Laws and regulations are trailing significantly behind the technology. This means work for government relations practices as the bills and regulations are drafted.
- As AI plays an increasing role in our lives and the business world, conflicts will arise. Until the laws and regulations catch up, these conflicts will require sophisticated, often precedent-setting dispute work. Even when the laws and regs are in place, the amount of AI-related litigation is projected to be substantial.
- Everything AI-related entails intellectual property (mainly patent) work.
5. Become an AI expert. Learn about AI generally and especially as it’s used in the business and practice of a law firm. Many attorneys have been hearing about AI but few understand it. Show your firm’s leadership that you’ve got a solid grasp of a subject that’s probably scaring the heck out of them. It might just earn you a seat at the table when the firm gets serious about AI.
2018 has the potential to be a big year for legal marketers who understand AI, so get to it!
(I provide more detail and daily updates on my blog Legal Artificial Intelligence.)
Mark Greene is a business strategy and marketing consultant at Market Intelligence LLC, with over 30 years’ experience in the development and deployment of marketing strategies, particularly in professional services sectors. Mark was inducted into the Legal Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame in 2008 and is President-Elect of the Board of Trustees of the College of Law Practice Management. Follow him @MarkTGreene.
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