Robot "ROSS" hired by major law firm

The news this past week is that a major law firm has hired a robot to do legal research. The robot in question is ROSS. Of course, ROSS is not, in fact, a robot. ROSS is a research tool that relies on artificial intelligence. Baker & Hostetler has "hired" ROSS to assist with research in the area of bankruptcy. The firm has approximately 50 lawyers in the bankruptcy practice, out of a total of 900 lawyers.

ROSS is the creation of Ross Intelligence, and is built upon Watson, IBM's cognitive computer. There's little novelty in the fact that the researcher can form queries using natural language rather than key words.

The big thing is that this is artificial intelligence. That means that ROSS improves its work based on experience. It "learns."

Here's how the creators explain it:

ROSS is an artificially intelligent attorney to help you power through legal research. ROSS improves upon existing alternatives by actually understanding your questions in natural sentences like - "Can a bankrupt company still conduct business?"

ROSS then provides you an instant answer with citations and suggests highly topical readings from a variety of content sources.

ROSS is built upon Watson, IBM's cognitive computer. Almost all of the legal information that you rely on is unstructured data—it is in the form of text, and not neatly situated in the rows and columns of a database. Watson is able to mine facts and conclusions from over a billion of these text documents a second. Meanwhile, existing solutions rely on search technologies that simply find keywords.

So what can ROSS do?

  1. Provide you a highly relevant answer, not 1000s of results, to your question posed in natural language, not keywords.
  2. Monitor the law for changes that can positively/negatively affect your case, instead of flooding you with legal news.
  3. Learn the more you and other lawyers use it.
  4. Offer a simple, consistent experience across all your devices and form factors.

Some predictions:

  • ROSS will quickly branch out into legal realms other than bankruptcy.
  • Firms that use this technology will be way more competitive.
  • Other firms will rush to get this stuff. Or perish.
  • Efficiencies will reduce the need for new BigLaw lawyers. This will reduce job opportunities for the highest flyers at the most elite law schools.
  • ROSS will be exempt from time and a half for overtime.

Read more about it here: