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| 17 minutes read

CMO Series EP144 - Tracey Whyte of Piper Alderman on Getting the Most Out of AI in a Lean Marketing & BD Team

The impact of AI in legal marketing and business development is still relatively unknown. While we hear professionals are adopting AI to achieve impressive results, we rarely see examples of successful outputs.

On this episode of the CMO Series Podcast, Tracey Whyte, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Piper Alderman, joins Charles Cousins to share some of the practical applications of AI she has been driving at the firm and the challenges she's overcome on that journey.

Tracey and Charles discuss:

  • Why legal marketers and BD professionals should be looking at AI for their roles right now
  • How Tracey came to her role at Piper Alderman
  • What the early steps towards AI adoption looked like
  • What the current AI use across the marketing/BD function looks like and what it is being used for what purpose
  • How to construct effective prompts for AI during the writing process 
  • Advice for others on how to get the most from AI

Charles: While AI's potential to revolutionize marketing and business development is often discussed, we wanted to move beyond theory and explore some tangible examples of AI being utilized by a law firm's marketing and BD function. Today we're thrilled to introduce Tracey White, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Piper Alderman and the innovative mind behind the firm's use of AI for marketing and BD. Join us as we delve into the exciting applications and hurdles she's encountered along the way. 

Charlie: The CMO Series podcast is brought to you by Passle. Passle makes thought leadership simple, scalable and effective, so professional services firms can stay front of mind with their clients and prospects when it matters most. Find out more and request a demo at Now back to the podcast.

Charles: Tracey, welcome to the podcast. 

Tracey: Thanks so much, Charles. Great opportunity to be involved. 

Charles: And today we're going to be talking all about AI and really in the last year it's it's really become a hot topic not just in in the legal space but again people are trying to find out everyday applications of how they can make their life easier and I guess more exciting I was listening to a podcast yesterday where they were using AI to get different people to sing songs by other people which is quite interesting and so you've got like Johnny Cash singing a rap song or something like that. So yeah, it's an interesting topic. But really to set the scene of today's podcast, why should marketers and BD professionals at law firms be looking at AI for their roles right now?

Tracey: Well, the rate of AI adoption has been faster than any new technology over the last 20 years, according to the Gartner AI hype cycle in 2023. So at Piper Alderman, we like to be early adopters of innovative ways of working, aligning with our firm values of innovation and forward-thinking. A recent study of professional services firms by a Melbourne-based agency called Umbrella Group identified that 72.9% of law firms are using AI for sales and marketing right now. And in a report by the Hinge Research Institute on high-growth firms, 42.9% of the high-growth law firms said that automation and AI were their biggest challenges for the future. So if you're not adopting AI in your role now, you're likely to be left behind.

Charles: That does make sense. Maybe if we rewind a little bit now and just cover how did you come to be in your role at Piper Alderman?

Tracey: My journey with Piper Alderman started back in 2011 when I was consulting with the firm on a contract for six months. And two years later, I was asked to come back to the firm in a part-time managerial role. And then in 2018, I was promoted to the director of the BD and marketing team working full-time. I have built a dynamic and high-performing BD and marketing team at the firm, and I'm really proud of what we accomplish each day as a team, kicking goals across BD, marketing, comms, and events.

Charles: And how big is your team? 

Tracey: At the moment, there are seven of us in the team and currently recruiting for a marketing assistant to join us in the Brisbane office. 

Charles: And for context, what's the total headcount of Piper Alderman? 

Tracey: Yeah, so we're sitting at close to 90 partners at the moment and just probably over 420 people in total. So quite a big firm with five offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Charles: And is your team all in the same office or are you spread across?

Tracey: We are spread across. So there's some of us in Brisbane, some in Sydney and some in Adelaide. we don't currently have anyone in our Melbourne or Perth offices.

Charles: Yeah, I guess for people not familiar with the geography of Australia, obviously that's working across several time zones, hey?

Tracey: It is. During Daylight Savings, we're actually across four different time zones. So it does make interesting work for our events and how we set them all up. So I'm always glad when Daylight Savings is over.

Charles:  Yeah, real. Brilliant. So going back to the AI, what were the early stops towards adoption? How did you get it started? Who initiated it? Who led the charge? Where did that come from?

Tracey: So, I guess the adoption of AI within the firm has been driven by our Chief Operating Officer and IT Director. Both could really see the benefits of early adoption, encouraging others to use AI. So, in the early stages, members of my team were all trying to open source ChatGPT to help with various tasks, usually to draft, copy or do some market research. Search. We were even using ChatGPT to create trivia questions for our fortnightly quiz Wednesday that we do as a remote national team to stay connected. And then after that, a pilot group was created for various members of the firm with access to a closed portal ChatGPT, where we could upload more sensitive content and tailor some of our searches.

Charles: Yeah. And do you feel it being led by the COO and IT Director from the top meant that more people were sort of bought in or do you think that just the excitement around AI meant people were happy to get involved?

Tracey:  I think, yeah, it does help when it's coming from the top. Even our managing partner has seen the benefits of using AI with our co-pilot license that we have now. And yeah, I think that there is some resistance with some people to use AI, but when they see the benefits and the time savings, it's, yeah, it's a no-brainer for a lot of them.

Charles:  And looking at specific examples, how is AI currently being used across marketing and BD function? What does it look like? What specific task is using it and who's using it?

Tracey: Yeah, so earlier this year, I was really lucky to join the firm's pilot group to use Microsoft Co-pilot with access to Co-pilot in the Microsoft Office suite. So it allows me to use the AI in Outlook, Teams, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. So on a daily basis I'm using Co-pilot in Teams meetings recording the transcript and then prompting the AI to generate notes and action items from each meeting. I've also used Co-pilot in Word documents to edit, copy, summarize documents and identify action items. In Excel I can analyze data very easily by hitting a button called Show All Data Insights. And this creates six pivot tables and graphs, analyzing data of large spreadsheets and showing trends in the data. But one of my favorites though is in PowerPoint. I can upload a Word document in PowerPoint, like an article that has been written by a partner and published on our website and ask Co-pilot to create a slide deck from the content. And this will generate a PowerPoint presentation that can be used as a draft for the presenter to edit. A few members of my team, they're also using Co-pilot in the pilot group, trialing various prompts to get the best results. And those without the license are using Co-pilot Bing. In addition to Co=pilot, we also have an AI package with On24, which is our webinar platform. And we generate various content following a recorded webinar. So this could include key takeaways, a blog that the speaker can use on their LinkedIn profile to generate discussion, an e-book that can be edited and created into an insight to publish on our website. So lots of different ways that we are looking at using AI at the moment. 

Charles: And we actually, when we were doing the preparation for this podcast, after our initial meeting where we were discussing topics and themes, you sent me a list of questions that were prepared using one of those tools. Is that similar to what you use for those meetings that you mentioned?

Tracey: Yeah, so that was actually using Co-pilot Bing and I put in prompt to say something along the lines of prepare a list of questions that could be asked to talk about AI and law firm marketing. And yeah, that's how those questions were generated.

Charles: Oh, fantastic. And it sounds like you're still sort of discovering new ways and new use case that can be used. How does the sort of onboarding and training of these tools work? Is it informal? Is it people figuring it out for itself? Or is there some sort of official training happening?

Tracey: Yeah, I think at the moment, it's very much a… it is a pilot group. So each of us taking, you know, the time to, I guess, look at different ways on how it can be used. We do have a training program that is being developed at the moment by our training manager. And I actually just saw him when I was traveling last week and sort of told him about some of the ways I've been using AI and he was really interested because it helps him set up his training package that we're sure to roll out in the next month or so.

Charles: Yeah, and I guess there's different use cases. Obviously, the lawyers will use it for doing one thing, but actually marketing BD might use it for other tools, other functions. In terms of challenges and limitations, have you faced any of these challenges? I know a lot of AI involves writing the right prompts. I wonder if you could deconstruct your prompt writing process and look at what makes a good prompt and how are you getting folks up to speed with this?

Tracey:  Yes. So definitely one of the biggest challenges I have faced with the AI is knowing how to write a prompt that will give you the most accurate and detailed information. In Excel, there are various prompts available to get things started. However, sometimes you will need to be really specific about which columns you want to analyze and how it really can be trial and error with the prompts. There's nothing more frustrating than when you're writing a prompt and getting an error message saying that's not available right now I guess you know as an example if you're wanting to drill down into a team's meeting on what each person covered in the meeting you will need to write the prompt for the AI to summarize the update from John Smith etc so I tend to do this during the team's meetings so that I'm keeping on top of the minutes and still staying engaged in the conversation when I generate notes from co-pilot I'll always advise the attendees that I'm recording and using their technology so I'm trying to create that awareness of the effectiveness of using the tool understand the investment the firm is making in AI adoption and want us to be market leaders by using AI to its full potential so I'm really fortunate the number of my partners have access to co-pilot and they can see how easy it is to use. There is a top-down strategy with adoption of AI within the firm.

Charles: Yeah, and I guess one of the things getting those folks on board is you create those advocates. And if you create a few champions in your fee-earning team, then it sounds like it might be an easier thing to get the rest of the firm to adopt. So with that in mind, how do you measure the success and impact of your AI-driven marketing initiatives? Have you got any examples where AI helps you achieve your marketing goals or any idea of how much time it's saving your team?

Tracey: Yeah, so I do have quite a few examples I can touch on here. I guess since adopting Co-pilot, I've definitely been the biggest advocate in the team for using the technology. I can already see a lot of time saving and efficiencies when using AI. And I regularly report these back to my team to demonstrate how Co-pilot can be used. For example, we regularly host panel discussions with external speakers. We will always have a pre-panel briefing to discuss content for the presentation. So I will record the meeting and then based on the transcript, I'll ask Co-pilot to generate a list of questions that the moderator could ask the panelists. This list can then be reviewed by the moderator and tailored to suit their style of questioning. So, using the AI, this task takes longer than, probably no longer than 15 minutes, where in the past it would have taken a few hours to review the minutes and generate the questions. So, that's probably a really good example of something that several members of my team can do because of the number of events that we run. With our various webinars that we host throughout the year, we will ask for feedback at the end of the webinar on suggested topics. So, to ensure that our upcoming webinars are addressing the needs of our audience, I will use Co-pilot to analyze the suggestions and then feed the data into Co-pilot Bing, prompting the AI to generate a list of proposed topics for a webinar series, feed this back to our presenters, and we tailor the webinars to best suit our audience. So this saves myself and the partners a few hours to plan the series. And then I guess the other one would be the AI technology for our webinars. It's really still to be tested to its full potential. However, we've always advocated for presenters to follow up with written content after a webinar. So this new technology now gives the presenter a draft and they can review and edit before we publish on the website. Site. So, this is saving the presenters hours of time as a draft is obviously much easier to edit than starting the content from scratch.

Charles: Yeah. So, is that it basically takes the content of the webinar and writes them a sort of insight and an article around what they covered? 

Tracey: Exactly. So, all of our webinars are recorded and during that recording, the AI transcription is turned on. And then it will generate a list of key takeaways, an ebook, and also a blog. So they're really, I guess, content that we would have produced anyway, but it would have taken a lot longer to put that together if we'd had to start from scratch with the presenters reviewing their webinar and putting that into the written word.

Charles: Yeah. I mean, that sounds like it's going to save for you a lot of time, particularly for your team that would always do that manually, it wouldn't just be writing it they'd I guess they'd have to go back and re-watch the webinar make their notes and then draft any articles from scratch staring at a blank page of writing so yeah I guess that makes sense in that they can get a starting point and it I'm guessing it won't be a finished article there'll always be a bit of tweaking but as you mentioned starting with with something a bit of text, then I guess it's easier than starting from scratch.

Tracey: Yeah. And I guess the other really important thing to remember with AI is that the content can be punished by SEO. So search engine optimization. So SEO will recognize if it's AI-generated. So it's really important if you do have that content and you're publishing it on your website, that you need to edit it as much as possible so that it is tailored and it doesn't have that AI flavour to it. So that is something that our lawyers are very good at doing and recognising that it is a starting point, it's a foundation for them, but it's not the final product.

Charles: Are there any other examples you've got of how you're measuring the impact and success of your AI-driven marketing initiatives?

Tracey: Yeah, so on the BD front, our bids and proposals manager has started using Co-pilot for a couple of recent tenders to draft descriptions of capability and areas of law that are very niche within a broader area. They've also used Co-pilot to provide a structure of a relationship management plan and a service delivery plan. So, these provide really useful headings and guidance that could then be populated with some of our existing content. Other members of my team have used AI to draft event invitations, translations from one language to another, creating run sheets based on pre-event discussions and the Teams meetings, creating event theme descriptions. Finding correlations in data in Excel with various reports, and also refining copy for our LinkedIn posts. So lots of different ways that the team is starting to use AI and Co-pilot. 

Charles: Do you think you're coming to the sort of end of use cases, or do you think more and more are just going to keep popping up as you go along? 

Tracey: I definitely think there are more ways to use it. Even just last week, when I was doing the interviews for our marketing assistant, I thought, surely there's a way that I can just put together a list of questions that I could ask the candidates. And so what I did was I put the job description into like the Word document and turned Co-pilot on and prompted it to say, you know, using this content and this job description, generate a list of questions that I can ask candidates at an interview. And it gave me 10 questions, which were all very valid based on the content that was in that job description. So that's not my usual job of having to interview candidates and that took me you know two minutes to get those questions that I could ask at the interviews.

Charles: Yeah I guess that's one of the exciting things about this is we're still trying to work out new ways and innovative ways that it can be used to make our job easier and it's not about handing your job over to AI it's about making what you do more time efficient so you can focus your energy on the stuff that I guess AI can't handle. So yeah, it's brilliant that you'll find in new ways each week. So it's great to hear that. And we're now at the point in the podcast where we're going to jump into the quickfire round and we're going to ask you a few questions, Tracey. So the first thing that comes to your mind, and we'll go from there. What are you reading or listening to at the moment?

Tracey: A good friend of mine, Sally King, recently sent me a copy of her book, The Marketer's Guide to Law Firm. So I'm reading that at the moment.

Charles:  Wonderful. And what does that cover?

Tracey: Very much focuses on the culture between lawyers and marketers within a law firm. And I guess the fee earner versus fee burner mentality and how to overcome that as a marketer in a law firm.

Charles: Oh, brill. I'll have to check that one out. 

Tracey: It's very good.

Charles:  What is one thing you couldn't live without in your working life?

Tracey: Definitely my laptop. Take it with me everywhere. I am very much a paperless person. Don't print anything. Don't use pen and paper. Yeah, very much digital with everything I do.

Charles:  Fair play. Are there any habits that you think helped you, particularly in your career?

Tracey:  Being organized has always been my key strength. And one simple trick I have implemented is to color code my various meetings in my calendar. So at a quick glance, I can see what my week ahead looks like. And I've tried to instill that in some of my team members as well so that they can get on top of their workload and time management.

Charles: By color coding, what do you mean?

Tracey: So I have various categories of color coding. So, if I have an external meeting, I'll make it green. If I have a meeting with a partner, I make it blue. If I have a meeting with my team, I make it orange. So, then I look at my calendar for the week ahead and I can see, you know, do I have multiple external meetings that I can't move? Do I have internal meetings that have a bit of flexibility in them? And that sort of sets me up for the week.

Charles: That's a great idea. 

Tracey: Thanks. 

Charles: What's your favorite way to unwind?

Tracey:  I absolutely love the Formula 1 and look forward to the GP weekends where I can sit and watch all the practice sections qualifying and the race so that's that's my idea of a relaxing weekend even though it is a fast-paced sport.

Charles: And you went you went to see it live didn't you when it was in Australia?

Tracey:  I did it was my very first time going to the Formula 1 in Melbourne in March and yeah Yeah, after watching the F1 for close to a decade, it was definitely a great experience and one I'll never forget. 

Charles: Fantastic. To wrap us up, we always like to ask our guests a similar sort of question, and that's what would be your top advice in marketing and BD to get the most from AI?

Tracey:  Well, AI is a new technology. So it's really about trial and error. Sometimes just knowing the right prompt can make all the difference to get the answers that you need. Not all law firms will adopt Co-pilot due to the investment. However, if you've got access to ChatGPT, that's a start and can be very effective in saving time for simple tasks in your day-to-day work life. So my key advice would be just try it because you just don't know what it's capable of. And yeah, it's really a time saver.

Charles:  Yeah, I think those examples you've given have already started to stir a few thoughts in my head of how actually can I be saving time. So I think that seems to be one of the use cases. It's going to make your job easier and save you time. So do get stuck in and test it out.

Tracey: Exactly. 

Charles: Tracey, well, thanks for coming on today and sharing some insight around how your firm is using AI. It's been really great to hear some actual practical examples. And I'm sure the folks listening to this episode can go away and test out some of those ideas. What i think would be really great is if we touch base in maybe uh six months 12 months time and here if you've found any other new and innovative ways of how you can use ai so and it sounds like you're constantly working out ways of of how to leverage this tool so we wish you all the best of luck and look forward to checking in in the future and hearing new use cases and new ways you're using AI.

Tracey:  Thanks so much Charles, it's been a pleasure being on the show.







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