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Andrew Arruda, CEO of Ross Intelligence, Discusses AI in the Legal Profession

November 10, 2017

Andrew Arruda at Northwestern Law
Andrew Arruda, CEO of Ross Intelligence, discusses the use of AI in legal services

On November 6, Dean Daniel B. Rodriguez hosted Andrew Arruda, CEO of Ross Intelligence, at a packed fireside chat in Aspen Hall. Faculty, students and staff filled the room to learn more about one of the leading providers of artificial intelligence-based research tools. The presentation was part of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s recently announced partnership with Ross Intelligence, focused on teaching law students how legal technology can facilitate the provision of legal services and address widespread access-to-justice issues. At the event, Arruda shared his thoughts on how technology can further the goals of the legal industry, what AI can do for legal services, and also provided a demonstration of ROSS’s cutting-edge technology.

Arruda began the presentation by explaining what Artificial Intelligence actually means. AI is the process of training computer systems to recognize certain patterns so they can later simulate specific tasks, he said. In the last few years, there has been a surge in AI capabilities. Arruda listed the rise in computing powers and the increase in digital data as instrumental to testing out the necessary algorithms for AI. Though this may sound complicated to non-computer scientists, the way computers are used by the average person is critical to the development of AI, Arruda said. Take, for example, the photos feature in Facebook. When it first appeared, Facebook users had to painstakingly tag people that were featured in each photograph. But over time, and with every repeated tag, Facebook picked up a pattern. Now the social media platform automatically recognizes people in photos. “Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence is not deprived of human intervention,” said Arruda. “In fact, it’s through human intervention that we are training computers to get smarter every day.”

How does this apply to the technology developed by Ross Intelligence? Since law includes tasks that follow a certain structure, computers can be engineered to automatize them. Ross Intelligence automates data retrieval and organization, Arruda explained. By cutting down the hours of legal research involved in a case, lawyers can deliver better and faster legal services.

As part of his presentation, Arruda demonstrated how Ross technology works: He began by typing a legal question into the program’s search box. With one click, a list of pertinent citations popped up. Arruda then selected one of the results, to show how users can filter citations according to date and jurisdiction, save passages, and provide feedback on the results. One of Ross Intelligence’s most exciting capabilities may be that it can automatically write a legal memo from the selected results.

From a business standpoint, Ross Intelligence can help speed up the process of preparing for a case. For Arruda, though, there is a larger goal in sight. “Technology for technology’s sake means nothing,” he said. “Everything has to have the client in mind. Anything we can do to deliver legal services to our clients should be what we do. It’s what we signed up for.” 

Social justice is one of Ross Intelligence’s main concerns and it’s one of the reasons they decided to partner with Northwestern Law. Students will get experience applying their technology to the legal practice through internships with legal services organizations that address access-to-justice gaps. Mark Marquardt of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois and Lisa Colpoys from Illinois Legal Aid Online expressed their excitement at helping students leverage legal tech.  “The introduction of AI will only exponentially allow us to do more,” said Colpoys. “We’re very excited about the law school taking this step. We need to be providing the classes and expertise so they can go out and have a 21st Century practice.”

Though an advocate for AI in the legal industry, Arruda also stressed that these technologies are not meant to — and cannot — replace lawyers. “The human lawyer never leaves the loop,” Arruda said. “It doesn’t make sense even from an AI perspective to completely remove humans. You can train AI programs, but not perfect them. We think of it as allowing humans to do more of what’s humanly possible.”

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