A law firm has hired an AI “lawyer” to cut through the drudgery of corporate law

AI can make quick work of the mountains of research needed to put together a legal case.
AI can make quick work of the mountains of research needed to put together a legal case.
Image: Reuters/ POOL New
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The first job after law school can be horrendous—not simply because of the intense workload and long hours, but also the drudgery. A huge amount of legal work given to those on the lowest rung of the ladder consists of reading through hundreds of pages of notes, articles, and case precedents, to provide senior lawyers with legal details that can help build their case.

Fortunately, artificial intelligence is up to the task. So much so that century-old law firm BakerHostetler has formally hired its first “digital attorney,” ROSS, as an artificially intelligent legal researcher.

ROSS is working with BakerHostetler’s bankruptcy team as part of a partnership first announced last month, at Vanderbilt Law School’s “Watson, Esq.” conference on law and artificial intelligence. Andrew Arruda, co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, the company behind the AI lawyer, said in an email that other law firms are also planning to sign licenses with ROSS.

Built on IBM’s Watson computer, ROSS responds to questions by analyzing billions of documents to come up with a precise answer. ROSS provides citations for its response, and improves the more it’s used, according to its website. ROSS can also keep track of any changes in the law that will affect an ongoing case.

Bob Craig, chief information officer at BakerHostetler, said in a statement that the firm believes “emerging technologies like cognitive computing and other forms of machine learning can help enhance the services we deliver to our clients.”

Of course, since an AI researcher can’t take on new clients or put together cases, it doesn’t strictly qualify as an attorney. But ROSS is still likely to be a welcome reprieve for recent grads at BakerHostetlerunless, of course, these young hires are ultimately replaced by AI.