Enhancing Efficiency: Leveraging the Power of AI for Writing Associate Bios

Enhancing Efficiency: Leveraging the Power of AI for Writing Associate Bios

By Rachel Wisdom
March 21, 2024 | 4-minute read
Communications Website Design and Content
Technology Management
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Every summer, many firms face the massive task of onboarding the year’s fall associate class, with dozens of fresh law school graduates joining the firm on a single day. At Husch Blackwell, this means a need for more than 50 new attorney website biographies in a short amount of time, while normal lateral hiring continues. In 2023 alone, the firm also added 111 lateral attorneys, the equivalent of a mid-sized law firm.

In addition to their high volume, fall associate bios tend to be temporary. These attorneys are at the beginning of their careers with limited legal experience, and bios written when they first join the firm are generally updated or replaced entirely within the next two years. This left the marketing team wondering if artificial intelligence (AI) could help.

Identifying the Right AI Tool

With an in-house data science team and a firmwide emphasis on technology and innovation, the marketing team was empowered to consider AI solutions. Senior Manager of Channel Marketing Stephanie Dorssom and Content Strategist Rachel Wisdom met with Thom Hutchinson — Husch Blackwell’s director of data science and artificial intelligence — to draft a prompt for ChatGPT 4.0 to create bios for fall associates. This was an in-depth process requiring trial and error before the AI system could produce suitable bios, but eventually, the team settled on a usable prompt. It was also quickly determined that while ChatGPT 4.0 drafted acceptable copy, a similar in-house tool developed by the data science team called HB Prompt Composer created far superior bios, thanks to its understanding of Husch Blackwell's style and the legal industry.

Wisdom then created customized questionnaires for each new hire. Associates were encouraged to write answers in bullet points or note form rather than as full paragraphs, which was easier for the AI tool to process. Once associates completed their questionnaires, these documents were fed to HB Prompt Composer along with resumes and the prompt, producing 55 completed bio drafts. While many drafts still needed light editing before being added to the site, the new AI approach cut the time the marketing team invested in the process by 70% when compared to previous years.

Tips for Developing Usable AI Prompts

  • You may have to repeat yourself. Phrasing the same guidance in multiple ways led to better compliance from the tool.
  • Sometimes, AI has a tendency to sound like a high school student trying to impress its teacher, or like it's writing a movie trailer. We addressed this directly by saying that bios needed to be simple, conversational and readable. We also added in all caps, "DO NOT SOUND DRAMATIC."
  • Have an outline in mind for the finished product. The tool responded well to a bulleted list of what points to talk about.
  • Tell it you're serious about your rules. The AI tool started following instructions much more consistently when we added the following line at the end: "Make multiple passes over this guidance and the provided information to ensure that ALL of this guidance is followed."

Best Practice Findings

Husch Blackwell’s success illustrates several principles for firms beginning to work with AI:

Think small at first. The Husch Blackwell marketing team didn’t begin by attempting to have an AI tool draft bios for equity partners. Instead, they identified a single pain point — fall associate bios — that was well suited to AI because of its formulaic nature and high volume.

The prompt is key. Busy staff are often inclined to rush through the prompt composition process to get fast results from an AI tool. However, it takes time to craft a prompt that will create quality responses. The Husch Blackwell team devoted significant time to determine which language and commands most consistently resulted in acceptable bios — a worthwhile investment when the overall volume of bios was considered.

In-house tools can create better customized results. While ChatGPT 4.0 did offer workable bios, Husch Blackwell’s own HB Prompt Composer consistently produced higher quality text. That’s not surprising — an in-house tool is built with a firm’s own style in mind. An added benefit is reduced confidentiality concerns.

Successful results require collaboration. Firms are often tempted to leave AI solely in the hands of the IT team, or conversely, leave marketing teams to navigate AI tools on their own. Husch Blackwell’s success relied on input from both the marketing and data science teams, with Hutchinson recommending best practices for communicating with the tool and Wisdom and Dorssom offering their insight into bio drafting.

Even with AI, writing projects still require human writers. Writing and communication skills were essential in crafting an appropriate prompt, as well as in polishing the final text. Artificial intelligence remains artificial and requires a human eye before a draft can be published. New hires appreciated the personal human touch as well — they interfaced directly with Wisdom, rather than the AI tool.

In the right context and with the right approach, AI tools can work alongside marketing professionals, reducing time needed for certain tasks and freeing up staff for more strategic efforts.

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Rachel Wisdom
Husch Blackwell

Rachel Wisdom is an experienced marketing professional and serves as content strategist for Husch Blackwell, one of the fastest growing law firms in the Am Law 100. As a member of the firm's channel marketing team, she helps drive digital content strategy for both firmwide content and individual attorney marketing that aligns with business development goals. Wisdom holds an MBA from Saint Louis University and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis.