A law firm recently announced that are employing IBM’s Ross to work in their bankruptcy practice, which currently consists of 50 lawyers. What is interesting is that Ross is “the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney” combining apple’s Siri voice technology with IBM’s Watson cognitive computer. According to the firm’s website, “You ask your questions in plain English, as you would a colleague, and ROSS then reads through the entire body of law and returns a cited answer and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources to get you up-to-speed quickly.” Ross will be able to eliminate some of the preliminary research done in cases within 30 seconds.
Artificial Intelligence in law has become a larger topic in the last decade. The first sighting of Artificial Intelligence in law was in 1999 when Jay Leib and Dan Roth created “Discovery Cracker’ which helped lawyers manage electronic documents for litigation. Instead of sifting through piles of paper, lawyers now deal with terabytes of data. E- Discovery is now becoming more sophisticated due to this massive amount of data. Then in 2013, Jay Leib once again saw a need in the market. He and Dan Roth created NexLP, a company that used artificial intelligence to analyze data and identify trends. NexLP uses predictive coding, where the computer is able tell which documents are useful and which ones aren’t. This process reduces the time needed for e-discovery and document review since the program is looking for actual concepts and not just keywords.
Currently, nearly 80% of all Americans who need a lawyer cannot afford one. This is despite the United States having a mass amount of attorneys. With Ross, attorneys currently out of work will be able to use the AI’s services to create a lower barrier of entry into the market, and will create cheaper and more affordable options for prospective clients. On top of this, the addition of Ross into a law firm will enable the firm to lower some of its fees as they wouldn’t be paying humans for cases. When it comes to opposing law firms battling, it doesn’t matter if there are 30 associates researching a case, or one Ross, the result will be the same. Artificial intelligence will allow the human attorneys to think of creative solutions or focus specifically on the client’s needs instead of leafing through textbooks and clicking hundreds of links looking for precedent or an obscure court ruling. Ross will also keep you up to date on court rulings to do with the case that is currently being worked on. It can also narrow down the results to the most relevant answers and presents the answers in an understandable language as opposed to passages of law spoken word for word.
The effectiveness of Ross taking up an entire section of a law firm is still to be seen, but the firm is fairly enthusiastic about the addition of AI Ross. Their Chief Information Officer explained “… we believe that emerging technologies like cognitive computing and other forms of machine learning can help enhance the services we deliver to our clients.” He also states we “have been using ROSS since the first days of its deployment, and we are proud to partner with a true leader in the industry as we continue to develop additional AI legal assistants.”
Ross, for law firms as a whole, seems to be a helpful tool. But, it also means the loss of jobs for a number of lawyers. Also, Artificial Intelligence, as of now, cannot compete with humans in creative thinking or originality. Artificial Intelligence, in its current state, is good for looking up facts and researching but is nowhere near the point of creating solutions and thinking of new ideas.
Ross will be seen one of the biggest steps in artificial intelligence in law. The future of artificial intelligence in law is unclear, but one thing that we know for a fact is that if an AI like Ross becomes implemented everywhere, who will be left to wear high heels at the office party?