And How Much Should You Pay Attention to It?
While less than a year ago it was noteworthy to see law firms issuing press releases announcing their adoption of AI tools, today several such announcements are released every week. And whereas in mid-2016 the number of companies offering AI services to law firms was in the dozens, today that number of players is well over 100.
Most importantly, the buyers of legal services are leading the charge. The best evidence of this comes from the CLOC conference recently held in Las Vegas where in-house counsel clamored for “better, faster and cheaper” services from their law firms. AI tools were frequently cited as a means to that end.
Still, there is a great deal of hype concerning AI. Most law firms have made little progress beyond eDiscovery in their adoption of AI tools. But, they are in good company, as only the most forward-thinking corporations have made major changes or pressed their outside counsel for progress. Still, there is little doubt where this is headed as AI infiltrates virtually every aspect of our lives and businesses.
In contracts, eDiscovery and regulatory compliance AI is already making substantial impact on the practice of law. But when it comes to marketing and AI, the progress is slower. One of the fundamental obstacles is that most law firms don’t have their data in order. And since billing data and marketing data have often lived in silos, it can be intense just matching up information to avoid duplicates. AI simply won’t work if it is basing conclusions on bad or incomplete data.
Once you have your data under control, what’s next? Remember, the first step is to define the business problem. AI can be employed to answer these marketing challenges:
- Lead scoring – Is this prospect worth spending time on?
- Content creation – How can we quickly analyze new laws and get a first draft of an alert for a lawyer to review and provide commentary?
- Predictive analytics – How can we determine which clients are most likely to leave, and intervene early to retain them?
- Voice search – How can we make it easy for a visitor to our website to find the information they want?
- Propensity modeling – How can I make sure I am serving up the right content at the right stage in a buyer’s journey when they visit our website?
- Ad targeting – How can we buy ads for a very targeted audience?
So, is AI going to radically transform the practice and business of law? Absolutely.
Are you too late? Should you panic? Absolutely not. Instead, become familiar with AI basics, make friends with the folks in your firm who control the data, and establish yourself as someone at your firm who “gets it.” Then you’ll have a seat at the table as your firm becomes a leader (or at least player) in the brave new world to come.
This content was originally published in the November/December 2017 issue of Strategies magazine. Strategies magazine is the leading legal marketing publication for all professionals in legal marketing and business development. Its bimonthly issues are a valuable source of industry-specific knowledge and tips, and the key information channel for thought-leading marketers who are on a path to revolutionize the legal industry. Strategies is the flagship publication of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA).