Maxine Harrison on Revolutionizing Legal Content: Bridging AI and Human Insight for Law Firm Success

The legal industry, traditionally viewed as conservative and slow to adapt to digital trends, is undergoing a transformation. Law firms now recognize the need to innovate their content marketing strategies to stay relevant and competitive.

Welcome to our latest podcast series, where today’s focus shines on pioneering content marketing strategies tailored for law firms as we go through 2024. Joining us in this enlightening dialogue is none other than Maxine Harrison, a vanguard in the realm of legal marketing strategy.

Maxine Harrison is the Director of Content for Juris Digital. “Max” is a purveyor of all things content, including writing, deployment, and ongoing optimization. She’s worked directly with attorneys to establish their brand voices online, implement SEO best practices, and contour channel-specific content for maximum conversion and success. As a seasoned copywriter and marketing strategist, Max understands the pivotal impact that SEO and effective messaging have on the success of a brand.

Max brings over 15 years of content marketing experience to Juris Digital, promoting more efficient content throughput, quality, and diversification. Max has written dozens of articles covering tax and legal matters in the captive insurance industry and beyond.

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Interview Transcript

Casey: Welcome to the Lawyer Mastermind podcast. I’m thrilled you could join us today. We’re honored to have a very special guest with us today, Maxine Harrison, affectionately known as Max. Max is the Director of Content for JurisDigital, where she’s the mastermind behind the content strategies for the firm. With over 15 years of content marketing experience, Max has revolutionized how legal brands engage with their audience. Thanks for joining me today, Max.

Max: Thanks for having me, Casey.
Casey: Of course. So, well, welcome. We’re very excited to have you on the show. Like I already mentioned, we’re going to dive right in and we’re going to be talking about content today, since that’s your area of expertise, right?
Max: Awesome. Awesome. I can’t wait.
Casey: All right. So what did I think one of the first questions that I have for you that seems to be on people’s minds is because it’s a question that I get asked often, is chat GPT or AI large language models
the right way to go for creating content for your law firm website?
Max: Well, that is a great question. And I do know it’s on everyone’s mind. It’s a common conversation that we’re having, you know, within my content marketing team.

Casey: So for, you know, the quick answer is we’re still testing, right?
Max: We’re still learning. And I think that chat GPT is great. Like you just, you know, put in your prompts
and it’s like magic, the tech just goes to work, right? But we’re at the precipice, right? Like we need to be there and we have like a first row seat to this. And we’re trying to understand how it works and how we can leverage it in ethical ways and in ways that are the most effective. So currently we leverage human minds and human hands, you know, primarily, but you know, we are not ignoring it. We are testing, we are using it to some degree. We’re seeing how it’s working and how it can really help us. I will say that it’s, I think it’s important for humans to be there, you know, sort of, you know, holding hands with the tech to make sure that everything is legally accurate and SEO friendly, because, you know, we just, you know, it’s a robot. So, you know, we have to, you know, be able to trust it but we also need to make sure that what we’re providing is valuable and effective for sure.
Casey: Very good. Well, you know, I guess we shouldn’t trust robots after Skynet and that whole thing. I know you mentioned, and I want to talk about, spend a little bit more time on this because like kind of in my experience, it was big right away. We’re like out of the gate and you could see that even from like a staffing perspective, I saw a lot of like, kind of like content jobs disappear overnight for certain agencies and things like that. And then it seemed basically that there was a lot of like low quality content flooding the website, not so much on attorney’s websites that I noticed but I had seen some of it. And I’ve definitely seen some attorney’s websites go from like a 10 page website to a 200 page website overnight. So obviously we know what they did there. But now I’m kind of seeing the other side of it too where people are really asking about the quality. Are the people that you’re speaking to, I don’t know if this has come up at all. I haven’t asked you this before, but are people asking for a non AI content essentially or is that not really been a question that’s come up?
Max: It’s absolutely been a question. I don’t think that a lot of people trust it yet. Like I think there’s a fascination with AI. I think they’re like, oh, that’s cool. But when it comes to my own website, can we have a human in there please? You know, so I totally get it. You know, it’s a catch 22. People are cautiously optimistic about it. And you know, we are too, you know, we can’t ignore it. It is transformative. It’s the way our industry is going. But I think most people, you know, understand that it’s not foolproof just yet. And I agree. You know, we do see some things here and there that aren’t quite right. So again, we are working in tandem with the tech, but first and foremost, we are using professionals. You know, they are at the helm, you know, at JurisDigital. You know, we actually have attorneys, you know, working and creating the content. So I think that’s really important, you know, we don’t wanna jump the gun or anything like that. We wanna make sure that we’re putting out quality stuff. And I think that attorneys, you know, primarily understand that too, for sure.
Casey: Yeah, and that kind of leads me to my next question. Probably one of the problems that I’ve seen
with AI content is, at least in the SEO side of things, that’s kind of my realm of marketing experience, right?

Max: That’s my background. And I’ve seen for the past couple of decades, a lot of tricks or quick ways to do things, fast ways, and SEOs, for whatever reason, always jump on those. And they’re like, hey, this is easier, this is better. Let’s take this and multiply this times a thousand. Why? Well, because we can. And when they do that, they miss something very important. And I think the thing that they’re missing is finding the right way to connect with their actual clients, like actually making that connection with them.

Casey: So given all this that’s happening with AI or not with AI, what is the best way, if I’m an attorney
and I’m looking to connect with my clients, not just spew crap on the internet, what’s the best way to do that through content?

Max: Right, that’s another great question, Casey. So I think for lawyers and really anyone who’s writing content, for those who are seeking legal representation, we need to understand what their pain points are, AKA we need to listen. It’s what I tell my children all the time. It’s listening, we have two ears and one mouth. So let’s go ahead and listen more intently. And then from there, we need to position the messaging to alleviate those pain points, right? We need to cut to the chase right away, right? I think that in years past, there was an emphasis on, let’s keep the reader on the page for as long as possible. Let’s stuff it with keywords. Let’s do whatever we, let’s throw a video on there. Oh no, we’re not talking about you, Casey. But yeah, way back when I started my career in the early 2000s, I mean, that’s what it was.
It was keep the reader on there because the Google bots are watching. We’ve got to impress them, right? But I think ultimately we’ve learned that we need to connect, right? We need to understand what the algorithms are, sure. Put the right keywords on there, sure. But we need to connect with readers in genuine ways. And I think in terms of like our legal or the legal sphere, folks are not feeling good. They want answers right away. So let’s not dilly dally. Let’s give them the answers that they’re looking for. If they’re saying, hey, what do I do after a car accident? Let’s not drone on about our law firm and what have you. Let’s tell them this is what you need to do right now. They may be on the scene of the accident. So let’s give them those answers. And I think when we speak to those pain points, when we speak to those challenges, it makes the content that much more valuable, for sure.
Casey: Yeah, and that’s like real marketing that you’re talking about. I think that there’s a big disconnect
between some people, especially, again, I’m harping on my own industry, the search engine optimization industry, but a lot of people may have entered from non-marketing backgrounds and so while they can be good at SEO in general, there is a shockingly high disconnect between that ranking well and actually like signing clients too, right? So I think you bring up a good point there talking about the client’s pain points because that’s a journey that it looks and feels and seems like a lot of law firm websites don’t spend really any time on. Instead, they’re more concerned about ranking for that really high valuable keyword, which is awesome. And that will be beneficial, right? But how much more beneficial would it be
if they could actually connect with their clients? So I just love those tips that you shared with us and come to think of it, I’m like thinking about this right now only from the SEO, the search engine path, the way that people would find content, but there’s tons of other content, like even email marketing. Is that, for example, is email marketing self-active and how can law firms utilize that?
Max: So in a word, yes, Casey, email is absolutely still a thing. However, I mean, think about your own inbox, right? It is bubbling over with promotional material and we all are like another promo, you know, what is this, right? So we all know those frustrations, right? But I think that email starts to become effective and it really is effective when we are providing the information that people wanna consume, right? So you have to ask yourself, you know, a few questions, like has the person or has the reader opted in? Have they reaffirmed that they wanna consume your content? You know, it’s not just, you know, having someone fill out a form and then them happenstance, you know, or inadvertently, you know, are subscribed to your newsletter. It’s like, you need to ask them the question, hey, would you like to receive these emails on an ongoing basis? And if you receive that confirmation and that overwhelming yes, then I think it’s okay for you to connect with that person via email. The other thing that I think is really important, you know, to be successful is, or using email as a medium is to understand who your audience is. And if you are providing like different services to different groups of people, send the relevant information, right? You need to segment as much as you can. So, you know, in the case of an attorney, if you are, you know, if you’re a personal injury attorney and then you do some estate planning, you know, on the side, you don’t want to just blast out one email to the entire lot, you know? You wanna be able to segment and tailor that messaging to, you know, so that it’s relevant, absolutely. But, and, you know, other than that, just make sure that you’re following all of the email guidelines, all of the can spam, you know, guidelines. And if you’re doing, you know, European email, if you’re doing European email, adhering to the GDPR rules, you know? But once you have that down, I think that email can be absolutely powerful. It really can be.
Casey: Sure, no, and that makes a lot of sense. And I love that you talked about audience segmentation because we hadn’t really talked about anything like that yet. And that’s, again, just that other mistake
that you see so often is that you’re sending one message to everyone. It’s like that shotgun Walmart approach, whereas you’re gonna be a lot more effective in your marketing if you know who your audience is and you are addressing their pain points, and you already mentioned that, solving their problems, getting in front of them. And so I think maybe what you’re saying, and I’m gonna rephrase this, but all of this together sounds like rankings may not be the most important metric. Is that right?
Max: I would say so.
Casey: Like, I mean, you’re talking to a lifelong marketer here, so it is a little difficult for me to talk about, but rankings are important, but they’re not the most important, right? It is the relationship. It really, really is. You know, anyone who advertises is naturally going to be concerned with rankings. You know, it’s that age old saying is, you know, a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one there to hear it, it doesn’t make a sound. Well, no one’s gonna read your content if it’s on page 50, you know, the search results. So yeah, rankings are important, right? But you have to think about it’s those people, the readers, the people who are sitting at their computers Googling, those are the people who are informing those results, right? So the more it’s viewed, the more it’s clicked, you know, engaged with, that is what’s going to yield success. And so I think that real connection is going to be your most important metric. Is that measurable?

Max: I think so. You know, are people talking to you? Are people calling? You know, are they emailing? Are they reaching out? So look at those things rather than just the rankings. Like, hey, I’ve been, you know, number five for a month or two months. It’s okay. It’s okay because the phone is ringing. People are talking about you and referring your firm to others, right? I think that that’s what’s important here.

Casey: Yeah, I think a lot of brands, well, a lot of law firms don’t think about their brand, I guess is a way to say it. But, you know, people are probably talking about you. And, you know, I think one of the overlooked goals for lawyers or law firms as well is that they don’t really put that attention into their brand. They’re not really focused on getting people talking about their brand. And really that’s their main, that can be their biggest differentiator, right? If you communicate to the world continually kind of what you do and what sets you apart, you are gonna stand out. I think there’s some really good marketers and we’ll have some on the podcast here soon too that I’m gonna be speaking with that are really gonna dive into that. But it’s just so overlooked for most of the small law firms. It’s just like, hey, how do I get a case tomorrow? Not how am I going to get cases tomorrow and next month and in a year and keep building on that, you know, building the systems around that. So I think it’s important to maybe take a step back and talk a little bit about that. Let’s say that you’re a law firm that’s just starting out and you’re trying to make a name for yourselves online through effective content. How could I do that? How could I start building that brand? So if you think about attorneys who have been around a while, you know, they have their reputation to stand on, right? They’re like, hey, I’ve, you know, garnered, you know, these settlements at these amounts. You know, I know what I, you know, what I’m capable of because I’ve done it before, right? But if you’re just starting out, you’re scrappy, you’re hungry, you know, taking a cue there from Hamilton. But I think the most important thing if you’re just starting out is to build trust. And how do you do that? Well, it’s first of all, like leveraging, hey, I know the law. These are the things that I know. These are the precedents that I know about. You know, that’s just out there. And then again, it’s that relationship building. It’s actually listening to the person and, you know, addressing the exact things that they care about, right?
Max: Sure. It’s talking about, you know, but it’s also about what you know and providing an effective path forward. Like what’s the course of action? You know, again, folks are not feeling good if they need an attorney, right? They’re like, hey, I don’t know what to do here. If you provide like, hey, these are the things you need to do step-by-step, it’s just a sigh of relief. And I think that if you’re just starting out, that should be your main focus for sure.

Casey: I love that because for years, I’ve been telling people that you need to become the expert in your industry, kind of like the known expert. And that’s advice that I only give because even getting started in digital marketing in general, the way that I really grew my reputation and my company and just time and time again, if I look back to it, it’s not necessarily the conference that I went to or having a booth or something like that. It was the information that I gave away that shows, hey, this guy probably knows what he’s talking about, right? And that developed a lot of trust with people. And that’s something that I still do to this day, not at the same level, but you see it, whether you’re on TikTok or you’re reading content, you know, you said it yourself, people are already in that like kind of painful situation. They’re looking for an answer. You’re solving it for them. And the thing that I found is that even if you give away
everything about your secret sauce, people still don’t have the expertise necessarily to act on that or the willpower, maybe more importantly, they want that problem solved. They want you to solve it. And so by showing them that you can get them there, I think that’s huge, Max. So I really appreciate you sharing that tip and I can just relate to that so much. I’m obviously very excited about that. So, and you know, there’s tons of different ways to do content marketing. And that’s just the way that I’ve always kind of niched in and instructed others to do. But in what ways is content different from content marketing from, or sorry, like content marketing for law firms different than content marketing for other industries?
Max: Right. So I think that, you know, industries like retail and others like that, you have the luxury of time. You know, people are, you know, might wait for the holiday season to go shopping and use their coupons. And, you know, it’s like, oh yeah, I’ll get my, you know, my landscaping done or my reno done, you know,
in six months. Folks who are looking for an attorney need help now. So there is a, that we can’t ignore, right? So the content needs to be timely. It needs to be comprehensive and clear. And, you know, just a little stat for you, 57% of people find their attorneys online. They’re not talking to family or friends. It’s not through a referral. They are going, you know, to Google and just going website by website, trying to find the best person who can help them. You know, and depending on their socioeconomic background, they’re looking at the cost as well. Hey, can I afford a lawyer? I really, really need one, right? So when you think about those, you know, different factors, you know, it’s really important to say, hey, here I am for you right away, right? Like, I don’t think that it’s, hey, you know, I’ll give you a call next week. Like you need to be available. You need to put out content that’s going to, you know, alleviate any sort of apprehension from the get-go and it needs to be urgent. So other industries, you know, they can keep putting out coupons and they may get people who bite. This is not it. And I, you know, I think another industry that’s similar, probably the medical industry, but same thing, right? Like you can’t wait to get surgery. You can’t wait for that sort of thing. Same with law firms. So is your content timely? Is it relevant, you know, to new year? You know, can we, you know, put out information that’s relevant right now? Or is your content stale? You know, can you update stuff? So having all of those things in mind, you know, the law firm industry is unique for sure.
Casey: Sure, yeah. And, you know, you’ve already touched on like the pain point side of that, you know, numerous times. But I think that, yeah, that call to like action that like, hey, that sense of urgency, you know, that’s a big one too that you don’t read about in a lot of websites, or at least a lot of the content
that I see when I’m checking rankings or doing things like that. You know, you’re just seeing a generic article that doesn’t really set their expertise apart. It doesn’t have that like sense of urgency. And it’s not talking about their brand really either. It’s just like generic and that’s boring. And is that, you know, I have a question related to that actually. Because with ChatGPT or Gemini, Bar, whatever you’re using, you can create content. That’s how we started this conversation for next to nothing. But even then, like, let’s say that I’m going to, and the quality is probably gonna reflect that. So my question is, I’m getting to it eventually, I promise, is that why does content pricing vary so much? It seems like I could go out and spend, you know, $50 for an article or 300 or 3000. Why does that vary so much? And why is there so much like bad content out there?
Max: So Casey, anyone who invests in marketing wants to be profitable. It’s a fact, right? None of us are doing this, you know, on a volunteer basis, right? So I would say that a large majority, you know, of those folks want their money quick, right? They’re looking for a quick payday and they’re not putting in the work, you know, to garner success, you know, the way they need to, right? They’re looking for quick answers. They might be, you know, hiring someone fresh out of high school because they’re cheap, you know, per hour, perhaps they’re using chat GPT with no professionals vetting the information. And in those ways, they’re keeping their overhead down so they can afford, you know, to keep their prices low.
I don’t think that that’s the right approach. You know, I think that sometimes you have to put in the legwork to make sure that the strategy actually comes to fruition in genuine ways. You know, that’s how the big bucks, you know, get made. And that’s how you, you know, strengthen relationships and, you know, get to understand who your clients are. It is the long game and you have to put in the work. Sometimes it may take six months, it may take a year, you know, but that said, you’ve done it the right way. You’ve, you know, created content that’s relevant, timely, and people are going to get excited.
People are going to, or at least they’re going to feel heard, right? As opposed to, you know, just reading something generic or something that’s just not, you know, the nuances aren’t there, you know? We need to understand, you know, the legalities of it, making sure that nothing is, you know, misstated, all those types of things. And all of that takes time and it takes appropriate resources, you know? Quick fixes, out the door, at least as far as I’m concerned. No, I think that’s wise because the other, there’s a lot of different sides to that. But another one that’s really talked about is it’s your brand, you know? Like if you are putting crap out there, people are going to see that. And, you know, anytime people talk about your brand or any interaction they have with your brand is what your brand really is. So if you’re putting crap out there, you’re going to get crap. And, you know, same with like the way you mentioned some other things while we were talking that just kind of got me thinking as well about like gearing that content to the right audience, you know, that can go in other ways too, where you can weed out those clients
that you don’t actually want to talk to or waste time on because they’re not going to be a good fit
just by the way that you communicate. And so having these brand guidelines and creating content that’s in line with that and in line with your brand and your ICPs, your ideal clients, you can really make a big difference. And a lot of that goes overlooked when there’s a shiny object and you just want those quick SEO rankings. So I know that having been in the industry for such a long time and just talking to so many attorneys that think, hey, I need to get five links. That’s more important than creating this long form
piece of content on my blog, or, you know, maybe judging marketing campaigns based on those metrics, when really those are bad metrics. Like the metrics you need to care about are ultimately probably cases signed. But, you know, if you have another goal, those brand interactions, I mean, that’s huge. I mean, if you build that positive reputation over time, that’s going to have a snowball effect and help you grow.
Casey: So enough of my tangents, Max. We’re running out of time here, but I do want to end with just something. I’ll give you a second to think about here. What’s a tip that you would give anybody that is new to content or maybe they have an existing website? What should they do kind of moving forward? What’s one tip or trick or anything like that that they should have on their radar to see success in 2024, given there’s algorithm updates, this and that, all that crap. What’s the most important thing to you?
Max: Right. So again, I think that we all need to have an open mind, right? We need to understand what value means and what quality means. I feel like there are a lot of agencies out there that talk about quality and they don’t define it. You know, they’re like, hey, we do quality content. And then, you know, they have a nice elevator pitch, but they’re not actually putting in any strategy that’s actually going to be effective. So I think that in 2024, we have to understand there’s a lot of competition out there. So how can you put forth your own value proposition in a way that’s going to resonate with people, right? Yes, use technology, understand how you can leverage it, but understand who you are as a firm and as a person, as a brand. Because I think it’s only then you know who you are and you know what you bring to the table that it will really be valuable. I think that there is, you know, just a lot of crap out there, you know, like Google anything right now, you know, and you will get a ton of stuff that’s just not relevant, you know, and it’s disheartening, right? So in that way, understand who your audience is, understand what you bring to the table and bring that forth every single time. I don’t think that not to be confused with like talking about yourself a lot, but understand what you bring to the table so that you can actually solve problems, right? Think about the client, think about the reader. What are they going through? I think 100% that’s going to work every single time.
Casey: Yeah, I love that. And I just love that thinking about that way in business too because that’s what’s gonna drive all the other interactions like positive reviews, happy clients, referral business, the things that are actually gonna be sustainable to grow you and taking shortcuts just never works. It might work for a little bit, but it doesn’t ever work out in the longterm from what I’ve seen. So Max, thank you so much for joining us today. I found this very insightful. I know that I’m gonna get a lot of good feedback from this. You are so knowledgeable and I appreciate you taking the time to share your expertise with us.
Max: Thank you so much for having me, Casey.
Casey: Absolutely, have a great day.