ROSS, the artificial intelligence serving lawyers

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Startups continue to change the legal world landscape with innovative services. Born in Toronto University in 2014, the app Ross Intelligence answers lawyers’ legal enquiries live.

Startups continue to change the legal world landscape with innovative services. Born in Toronto University in 2014, the app Ross Intelligence answers lawyers’ legal enquiries live. 


Who are you ROSS?


Developed since 2014 at Toronto University and now present in the Silicon Valley, ROSS is a digital legal expert who knows statute and case law like the back of its hand. Its unhuman capabilities allow him to analyze every legal source at once and give an instant reply. These skills do not come out of nowhere, ROSS is built on the well known artificial intelligence system : IBM Watson, based on the understanding of the colloquial language and notoriously known for winning the American TV Show “Jeopardy!” against human contenders.


It is not about simple keyword search. The lawyer sollicitates ROSS the same way he would ask an associate. On its side, the app analyzes the legal data and keep the relevant elements in order to build a reasoning. The result is a structured and well argued response, enclosing legal sources, answering the legal issue. The AI even include links to articles related to the issue to go further.

Each day I am more impressed by the quality of our team and the progress they make, while we continue to grow, improve and multiply the features of ROSS” says Thomas Hamilton, VP Strategic Partnerships and first employee of the startup.


Despite being artificial, ROSS also has the ability to learn. By using it, it is trained and becomes more efficient thanks to the machine learning system[1]. In other words it becomes a better partner the more you use it, able to deliver quality work. Andrew M.J Arruda, CEO and co-founder of Ross Intelligence, dreams of creating the smartest lawyer in the world. ROSS is more than a simple research assistant as its incredibly fast data analysis allows the AI to reveal new texts and cases that may affect an ongoing case. He holds all the qualities the perfect lawyers.


Nonetheless, a robot has its limits. Companies such as Google are trying to develop a system able to make connections and interpret information in order to give an independent point of view. Being able to think like a human being and therefore much like a lawyer seems achievable according to the internet giant. For the moment, ROSS has not reached this level. It is still an assistant or a first-choice junior partner, able to go through the time-consuming task of legal research in milliseconds, without missing a single information. A precious tool for research and monitoring, it is useful to lawyer in order to « improve their own productivity and efficiency » as Thomas Hamilton precises. “Even though we saw a lot of progress in AI, we’re still very far from the day when humans won’t be a central element of every AI product in the ‘legaltech’ ”.


Dentons’ and NextLaw Labs’s support


Having the support of the startup accelerator Y Combinator since 2015, ROSS also has the help of NextLaw Labs, the business accelerator of the law firm Dentons. NextLaw Labs is investing in innovative businesses, with the goal of helping new technologies to revolution Law practice and improve client services.


Nearly a third of the billable time of partners comprises of legal research, explains Dan Jansen, CEO of NextLaw Labs, in an interview given to Carriè ROSS’ purpose is to facilitate that task and allow lawyer to spend more time on their cases. This service (...)  is the perfect illustration of the different types of solutions we are working on, and we are looking forward to handing it to Dentons’ clients.


Promising commercial starts


Since the beginning of its commercialization, three law firms took ROSS as partner. “ROSS creates value for firms and allows them to improve the efficiency of their research” points out Thomas Hamilton.

A month ago BakerHostetlern was the first firm to acquire it to celebrate its hundreth anniversary. “At BakerHostetler, we think that new technologies such as cognitive computing tools and other forms of machine learning are a way to improve the services for our clients” explains Bob Craig, of the information departement of the firm.


More recently, Latham & Watkins and Brieson & Roper were seduced by this new tool. “We are exploring many interesting applications for AI, machine learning and other cognitive computing tools which we are excited to pilot and deploy in the service of our clients.” stated Kenneth Heaps, CIO of Latham & Watkins, to American Lawyer[2].


Will it be released in Europe?


Our goal is for every lawyer to have Ross as a partner, and we are excited about the prospect of releasing in Europe!

So, see you soon ROSS!


Original article written by : 

Valérie CROMER



Translated by



[1] Development of methods allowing a machine to evolve and improve itself by a systematic process. Hence it is able to do tasks hard or impossible to do with more classical algorithms.

[2] Jennifer Henderson, Latham, Wisconsin Firm Reach ROSS Intelligence Partnerships, 20 mai 2016,