Andrew Arruda: “Top 20 Legal IT Innovators of 2016” by American Lawyer Media & Legal Week

Kathleen Killin
December 29, 2016

In November 2016, American Lawyer Media and Legal Week published a report that profiles law firm leaders, in-house lawyers and those in legaltech who are shaking up the legal industry. Find excerpts from Arruda’s interview below and the full article here.

He explains: “ROSS harnesses the power of natural language processing. When a user asks a (hypothetical) legal research question, just as they would ask a lawyer, it analyses, compares and contrasts the words and sees the relationships those words have on each other, much like humans do, and therefore it uncovers the intent of the question itself.”

ROSS is ‘the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney’ …it understands natural language legal questions and provides expert answers instantly. ROSS can therefore “understand what you’re asking, and it’s trying to aim at the why you’re asking it”.

After layering on machine learning, it continues to learn — “essentially try to mimic the way we as humans learn things”.

As to how ROSS has the capacity to draw inferences and formulate hypotheses, the answer, says Arruda, “is a very complicated process that uses hundreds of different algorithms”. He adds: “The way to boil that down simply: what it is trying to do is decipher different things and add on a different weighting system.” Going back to the hypothetical question, “it brings back the passages of law it feels most confident answer your question”…

… He sees ROSS and AI more broadly “as a really powerful tool for positive change in society”, because it will save money on legal research time. He points to the 80% of Americans “who if they need a lawyer, can’t afford one”.

As a legal tool, ROSS is sold as a cost and time saver. It is being rapidly developed and has already been tested by hundreds of lawyers in multiple law firms. BakerHostetler was one of the first big names to sign up, followed more recently by Latham & Watkins.

In terms of cost, there is no published fixed tariff. But Arruda is keen to point out: “We made Ross to be able to be used by solo practitioners, small, medium and large law firms — so it’s very affordable. We like to peg the monthly charge at roughly what it would cost for an hour of a lawyer’s time on average, with the logic that using Ross is going to be saving you countless hours a month.”

For a technical innovation to work commercially, the market has to buy. Arruda is confident that they will:

“I like to think that ROSS will certainly become a ubiquitous piece of technology for the law firms that exist in the future. Our goal right now is to put ROSS into the hands of every lawyer across the world.

Kathleen Killin