After having worked at a Toronto litigation boutique, Andrew Arruda wanted to change the way legal services are delivered and so he co-founded ROSS Intelligence, a tech company that leverages the power of artificial intelligence to improve legal research. With a vision of creating the world’s smartest lawyer, it landed an $8.7 million Series A funding in October 2017.
Leaders League. How has your recent funding impacted the company’s daily management and future development plans?
Andrew Arruda. Our Series A announcement was big news in legal technology circles as it marked ROSS Intelligence stepping into the next era of our company history. The additional funds have allowed us to attract great talent, such as Scott Sperling, our new VP of sales, who was previously head of sales at WeWork, as well as Graham Toppin, our new head of engineering who was previously with Helpful. As for our future development plans, the additional funds were always in our plans so it hasn’t necessarily changed anything, but it has accelerated things, as evidenced by the release of our new AI product EVA, which we released completely for free for everyone to enjoy.
Sophisticated software or applications for legal searches already existed before the emergence of AI. How is what ROSS Intelligence offers different from other existing tools?
There is a tendency of some folks who are part of new technological developments to dismiss the tools that came before, this is not the case with ROSS. The sophisticated software that came before ROSS, which now may not be sophisticated anymore due to outdated infrastructures, set the stage for what we do at ROSS.You don’t need AI enabled software for everything you do. What ROSS brings to the table now is the ability to do things that were never before possible with technology, and we are proud to be leading the way in the legaltech revolution when it comes to AI-enabled technology in law.
How would you rank the importance of legal knowledge, technology, funding, communication and education of the public in the success a legal tech company?
I think of the factors listed, first and foremost, communication and education of the public is the most important factor. The reason: people won’t use software they have never heard of and don't understand. After that, I think technology is vital as if you pique folks' interest, you better back it up. After this, I would say legal knowledge as you don’t just want to have great technology that isn’t solving a real problem the legal market is suffering from. Lastly, I think funding is important because no matter how fast you sell, the additional capital influxes allow you to do much more than just operating off of your revenues from the sale of your core technology.
Other factors would be the tenacity of the founders and early employees which I would rank first overall if given that choice – it’s a hard world out there when you are getting a tech company off the ground, you want to find the smartest, hardest working, and adaptable people you can find. I’m lucky because I think ROSS Intelligence has the best team in the world to do what we are doing.
In his book HomoDeus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari challenges accepted wisdom regarding the workings of the human mind. Is your company trying to do the same for the legal profession?
Certainly, but I think any company that is out there trying to get folks to adopt a new product which goes along with a complete change to how business was conducted before is doing this. Folks didn’t just tie up their horses and start buying cars, it took time, education and a whole lot of work – that’s something we do every day at ROSS. This being said, I was recently speaking in Miami at the University of Miami Law School, and American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass delivered the keynote, in it she told all the students that they would all practice alongside AI in the future. We are extremely proud at ROSS to have introduced and promoted the use of AI and will work tirelessly to ensure that President Bass’ prediction becomes a reality not just in the US, but around the world.
What advice do you have for paralegals or young associates whose work is the most impacted by legal AI?
There likely isn't one area of the legal industry (ex. paralegals or young associates) that will be more affected than other groups. The entire profession, along with the hundreds of crucial support roles, will undergo some change. But this is a good thing - it means less time spent on repetitive tasks and more time on the sort of exciting and creative work that attracts people to the law in the first place. My advice to everyone in law would be to educate yourself on all the exciting things happening both in AI as a whole, as well as legal technology specifically. The folks that will be having the most exciting careers in 5, 10, and 20 years from now will be the ones that seized the opportunity to grow their careers through AI.
Jeanne Yizhen Yin
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