The latest hire at Baker & Hostetler simply goes by the name of ROSS. And while ROSS isn’t exactly a lawyer in the traditional sense – he didn’t go law school or take the Bar – by all indications he would do well. He is currently involved in bankruptcy cases, but given his ability to learn and adept he might move up the ladder quickly.
No, ROSS is not human. He is an AI attorney, a software program built on IBM’s cognitive computer Watson, the computer that trounced its human competitors on the game show Jeopardy a few years back. ROSS is being marketed as “the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney.”
But ROSS is not alone out there.
Linklaters and Pinsent Masons have also moved into the AI sphere. Linklaters has developed Verifi, a computer program that can sift through 14 UK and European regulatory registers to check client names for banks. The company said it could process thousands of names overnight. Other similar systems are also in the works.
This is potentially bad news for law school grads and paralegals that used to make a lot of money upon graduation to do similar work. Or is this just way to make them more efficient and really focus on being lawyers?
So far ROSS seems to be leading the way with a reported 20 firms on board. Dentons is reported to have invested in the technology.
Developed by ROSS Technologies in Canada, this new type of lawyer helps a firm power through legal research. And, according to the company, more firms are signing up.
“ROSS improves upon existing alternatives by actually understanding your questions in natural sentences like – ‘Can a bankrupt company still conduct business?’” ROSS then provides an instant answer with citations and suggests highly topical readings from a variety of content sources, the company claims in a statement.
So what can ROSS do? According to the company:
Provide a highly relevant answer, not 1000s of results, to a question posed in natural language, not keywords; monitor the law for changes that can positively/negatively affect a case, instead of flooding you with legal news; learn the more lawyers use it and; offer a simple, consistent experience across all your devices and form factors.
Andrew Arruda, the CEO and co-founder of ROSS, has said many times in public that more and more firms are catching on to the idea of AI as a cost-saving effort and a means to alleviate lawyers from spending countless hours of billable client time on research.
And the more work ROSS handles, the smarter it becomes.
The company is confident. “With ROSS,” Arruda says, “lawyers can focus on advocating for their client and being creative rather than spending hours swimming though hundreds of links, reading through hundreds of pages of cases looking for the passages of law they need to do their job.”