First firm to hire a virtual attorney. It’ll be handling bankruptcies….

The American Lawyer reports on Ross, the newest legal mind to join Baker & Hostetler – despite being an artificial intelligence programmed to analyze bankruptcy law and talk about it in plain English:

Marketed as “the world’s first artificially intelligent attorney,” ROSS Intelligence uses International Business Machine’s Watson technology to allow users to ask natural language questions and get answers. The process not only constantly monitors the law, but more importantly uses “machine learning” capabilities to continuously improve its search results.

ROSS Intelligence CEO and co-founder Andrew Arruda said that a few other firms have also signed licenses, and those announcements will come shortly. Arruda first mentioned that Baker & Hostetler had signed on as a client at Vanderbilt Law School’s Watson, Esq. conference in April….

At Vanderbilt, the 27-year-old Arruda predicted that the technology could be a game changer, noting that the flattening demand for legal services signals turbulence ahead. “We’re standing on day one of artificial intelligence in law,” he said at the conference. On Friday, he told The American Lawyer that his team is working on expanding ROSS’ application to other practice areas, including criminal, tax, employment and intellectual property.

“Our aim is to have ROSS on the legal team of every lawyer in the world,” he said.

It’s somewhat surprising that Baker & Hostetler is ROSS Intelligence’s first public licensee, given that another firm, Dentons, has been financially backing the venture. Last May Dentons launched NextLaw Labs to develop new technology to “transform the practice of law.” NextLaw Labs’ first investment was ROSS Intelligence. Over the last year, ROSS Intelligence has been operating a pilot project with more than 20 law firms that lets the firms test the software for free.

Dentons’ U.S. chief innovation officer, John Fernandez, who is also the global chairman of NextLaw Labs, said the firm is continuing an active pilot initiative with ROSS and “is very pleased to see ROSS hit this important milestone.”


Of course, Ross has his own website, if you’ve got more questions.

No word on how many future clients will be former bankruptcy lawyers and legal researchers….