Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Strategies magazine. Access the archives here. Although this technology has (and continues to) evolve since publishing, the heart of this content — best practices for using AI — remain constant.
By Mark Greene, President of Market Intelligence, and Elonide Semmes, President of Right Hat
While less than a year ago it was noteworthy to see law firms issuing press releases announcing their adoption of artificial intelligence (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 a player) in the brave new world to come.
Mark T. Greene, Ph.D. For three decades, Mark has been one of the pioneers in legal marketing and business development. He is a frequent speaker and writer regarding Market Research, Competitive Intelligence, Branding, and Business Strategy for professional service firms.
Mark was inducted into the Legal Marketing Association's Hall of Fame in 2008, is a Distinguished Graduate Alumni of the University of North Carolina, is the President-Elect of the College of Law Practice Management, was named in the inaugural list of "Business of Law Trailblazers & Pioneers" by the National Law Journal/ALM, and was a 2014 winner of "Nashville Business Journal’s" CMOs of the Year Award. Mark was trained by GE as a Six Sigma Black Belt and Champion, and is certified by the Academy of Competitive Intelligence as a "Master Level Competitive Intelligence Professional."
Elonide Semmes founded Right Hat specifically to help professional service firms better articulate their intangible value. Where many branding agencies are hyper-focused on the design of marketing materials, she marries exceptional design with deep thinking on the business-development process. Elonide maintains an ongoing dialogue with legal buyers including General Counsels and C-Suite executives, and brings the voice of clients into every conversation.
Elonide is a recognized leader in legal services marketing. She has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the International Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. In 2016 and 2017, she co-led the LMA’s task force on Artificial Intelligence and the Business of Law. She is a frequent speaker on the subject.
Check out more AI-related resources in the LMA Learning Store here: