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AI attorney to join US law firm

18 May 2016

Big 940-lawyer US law firm Baker & Hostetler has announced that it has licensed ROSS, an "AI legal assistant" created by ROSS Intelligence, for work in its bankruptcy practice. 

The 50 or so bankruptcy lawyers will be able to ask ROSS a research question in natural language (eg, "can a bankrupt company still conduct business?") and receive an instant answer, with citations and topical readings from legislation, case law and secondary sources. ROSS will also keep on the job, providing updates on any relevant changes in the law.

ROSS Intelligence CEO Andrew Arruda says other law firms have also signed licenses to use ROSS – which he describes as "the world's first artificially intelligent attorney".

ROSS is built on IBM's cognitive computer, Watson (named after IBM founder Thomas J Watson and said to have similar thought processes to a human). IBM Watson is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. 

According to IBM, 80% of all data today is unstructured. Watson learns after all related materials are loaded in – Word documents, web pages, PDFs. It is then "trained" by adding question and answer pairs.

Watson searches millions of documents to find thousands of possible answers. It collects evidence and uses a scoring algorithm to rate the quality of this evidence, and then ranks all possible answers based on the score of its supporting evidence.

ROSS draws upon Watson's cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities. Like any lawyer, it needs to be taught a field of law. ROSS Intelligence began teaching ROSS bankruptcy law in June 2015. It is now learning a variety of other practice areas.

Last updated on the 18th May 2016