This week’s interview subject perhaps needs little introduction. Andrew Arruda is a well-known and often-quoted co-founder of ROSS Intelligence. He is also a leader in the legal tech world. He is a member of the Forbes 30 under 30 Class of 2017 and was a 2016 TED speaker. 

1) How did you first get started in the world of legal tech?

I found my way into legal technology very serendipitously. I had been working at a law firm for about 8 years and continuously saw from the inside that technology could go a very long way in law, not just to make lawyers’ lives easier, but to ensure our clients received better service. I met ROSS’s CTO / co-founder Jimoh Ovbiagele at a social event and as someone plugged into the AI community at UofT, Jimoh told me what he and others were working on – I was hooked and shortly after was sitting in a basement as a founder of a legal tech company.

2) AI seems to be something of a buzzword these days, especially in the legal sector. How would you define it?

I define AI pretty simply, as the teaching of computer systems to do things that were thought to require human intelligence. Defining AI is a huge Pandora’s box that I like to stay away from so instead, I put together a piece using the opinions of experts in the fields so that folks can check them out themselves, ”“Defining Artificial Intelligence with AI pioneers Bengio, Hinton, Ovbiagele & PM Trudeau.”

3) For those who do not know, what does ROSS intelligence do?

ROSS Intelligence is an artificial intelligence company that builds solutions in the legal space, which allow lawyers to scale their abilities and do more than they ever could do before. We started building tools in the legal research vertical and will be expanding from there until every lawyer in the world has ROSS on their team.

4) Where do you see legal tech and AI applications taking us over the next five years? Some say that AI will eliminate a lot of legal work while others say that AI will simply make us more efficient performing such work. Where do you stand?

I stand on the side where I believe, as historical data would suggest, that technological advances lead to more jobs overall – but maybe not the same jobs. What it means to be a lawyer will change but lawyers will not be out of work. I wrote a fun piece that explores this called, “Relax, humans. Robots are not going to take your jobs” which highlights such things as the fact that one-third of new jobs created in the United States in the past 25 years were jobs that didn’t exist or barely did before then – I feel the same will occur with legal jobs due to the rise of AI.

5) How should lawyers feel as legal tech gains greater and greater prominence as well as greater use in the legal field?

Lawyers should feel happy and relieved now that legal tech continues to gain ever greater prominence. In the past, it was very hard to bring in good engineers to the legal technology field, which is why most legaltech looks like it’s stuck in the 90’s and hasn’t changed in decades. With the rise of world-class legaltech, comes better technology, which means a more efficient practice and better client service – it’s a win-win-win.

6) What do you see as the biggest challenges that legal tech and AI face currently?

The legal technology community is still up against a culture of reluctance against change and innovation within the legal community as a whole – this being said, the tide is turning dramatically. If you look at the successes of companies like Avvo and Clio for example, who were amongst that first wave of legal technology change, the future is very bright and we at ROSS are happy to be part of this exciting legaltech revolution – my favorite metaphor to explain it to friends and family is that everyone involved in legaltech right now is the crowd at Woodstock, the future is very bright and we will be rocking on.