Automating copywriting with AI

Duncan Anderson
July 23, 2021

All ideas grow out of other ideas

Humanise for Law is a website assistant for law firms. We're getting great results – clients are seeing a 2.5x increase in the number of leads they generate from their websites and the level of effort needed to handle those enquires reduces by two-thirds. But we wanted to make it easier and quicker for law firms to get started...

Part of the setup process for Humanise for Law is that we need to tell the system all about the law firm – what areas of law it works in, what makes it special, etc. We have a wonderful online portal for specifying all this information, but it needs knowledge of the law firm and a bit of copyrighting skill to set things up. Add to that, there's a certain art to writing words for a website assistant. They need to be accurate, but also short and to-the-point. Two sentences is typically as much as you want in one go – sending big paragraphs of text in a messaging app quickly overwhelms the user.

So, what if we could use AI to set things up and write the copy for us?

That's exactly what we've now built! With the help of some very exotic AI, our system is able to read a law firm's website, work out what areas of law it specialises in and write its own copy.

Watch the video of it in action, or read on to learn more.

To make this work we're using a very special AI algorithm called GPT-3 from OpenAI. GPT-3 is really good at writing copy. In fact it's so good that for a period, OpenAI was reluctant to release it to the wider world, for fear that it might be used for nefarious purposes.

"Any socially harmful activity that relies on generating text could be augmented by powerful language models... Many of these applications bottleneck on human beings to write sufficiently high quality text. Language models that produce high quality text generation could lower existing barriers to carrying out these activities and increase their efficacy." — OpenAI

It turns out that initial concerns about how GPT-3 might be misused haven't emerged in practice. Instead, people like us are able to use it for far more mundane purposes, like writing copy for law firms.

This is how we go about using GPT-3...

First, we scan the law firm's website for existing copy. We use this to prime GPT-3 – essentially giving it the facts and language style this law firm deploys.

Then, we're able to ask GPT-3 to write the copy we need. It does this by writing entirely new words – not by extracting existing words, but instead by using those words to inspire itself to answer the questions we pose of it. For example, we might say to GPT-3 "Explain how this law firm can help a client looking to sell a house."

We then process what GPT-3 gives us through our own proprietary algorithms to clean up the text and resolve some of the common issues that we've seen with GPT-3 generated copy. GPT-3 isn't perfect – most of the time it generates really good copy, but it's an AI and sometimes makes mistakes and that's where we step in to clean up what it generates.

Tuning the parameters of the GPT-3, getting a balance between writing inspiring new copy and being accurate, we important. Get too inspirational and the algorithm has a tendency to make up facts from thin air, but dial that down too much and it tends to just return extracts from the existing website copy. We think we've got the balance about right. Inspirational but grounded in reality.

But it's OK if GPT-3 makes a mistake – we're not letting it chat with clients, but instead capturing it's output and letting the law firm edit that and improve it if need be. Us humans are in control and GPT-3 is just trying to help us do our jobs better by suggesting ideas for our copy. If we don't like what it produces we can ask it to try again, or ignore it altogether and write our own.

It turns out that this approach works really well. Here's a few examples of what GPT-3 has written for clients:

"We're an independent law firm with recognised expertise in specialist market sectors. We have an extensive client base, many of whom are high profile, and we cover a broad range of industry sectors within the UK."

"If you have been a victim of medical negligence and are seeking legal help, you should speak with us."

"We are a small, friendly and efficient law firm in Kent. We are experienced in all aspects of law and our clients find that we provide a professional, friendly and efficient service."

"We have a team of solicitors providing a complete service for the purchase and sale of property. We offer all the services you need when buying or selling a property including a conveyancing service which has been awarded a Legal Aid Certificate."

Automating the setup of Humanise for Law with AI is a huge productivity boost and co-opts a machine to help introduce creativity and inspiration in how we use words to describe a law firm and the services it offers.

If you'd like to see it in action, check out this video.

ℹ️ Can we help?

If you’d like to know more about our Humanise for Law or are interested in adopting our technology, please get in touch