The legal profession as a whole tends to resist adoption of new technologies that can save on lawyer time and enhance the accuracy of work product.
This is because the legal profession’s prevailing business model is based on the following:
- Hourly billing, rather than pricing according to the task performed;
- Multiply the lawyers assigned to a task; and
- Assign recent law grads to do legal research and document review —training junior lawyers on the client’s dime.
But there are exceptions.
Consider Salazar Law, a boutique commercial law firm, founded by Luis Salazar, who practiced bankruptcy law for over 15 years as a partner at a large and prestigious international law firm.
He says this about why his firm adopted ROSS Intelligence — an artificial intelligence-driven legal research platform:
” … We were still practicing law … in the same way that we’d practiced for a hundred years, the same way Charles Dickens had written about it ….
“We really wanted to establish a new law firm that took advantage of new technology ….
” … We came across ROSS [Technologies] … ROSS is really our bread and butter for what we do. We do a lot of bankruptcy ….”
According to a profile in the legal press last fall:
“The firm relies heavily on technology to streamline the workloads Salazar says would normally be given to tens of people at larger law firms.”
How, exactly, does that work?
What ROSS “streamlines” for Salazar Law is legal research. In bankruptcy practice, legal research is time-consuming.
It means pouring through hundreds or thousands of court opinions to find some vital judicial ruling that supports your client’s interests – and negates your opponent’s position.
It’s time-consuming when done manually, by lawyers reading text.
And it’s one of two staple, repetitive, routine activities of lawyers who are a few years out of law school. (The other staple is manual review of documents in litigation discovery process and in M&A-related due diligence investigations.)
For each of these staples, conventional law firm employers bill client companies for their junior attorneys’ time at hundreds of dollars per hour.
An AI-based system like ROSS costs a small fraction of what manual inspection costs, because it — rather than those junior attorneys — “reads” the bulk of the necessary texts.
Salazar Law’s use of ROSS Technology amounts to a two-step sequence:
- ROSS “reads” the bulk of relevant texts — the sort of “first pass” that a junior lawyer in a conventional law firm does for a senior lawyer — and it performs this “reading” by AI-based automation; then
- A senior, experienced attorney takes what ROSS has produced via AI — a small subset of the initial research — and applies the advanced legal judgment to it.
Luis Salazar puts it this way:
- “I’m a bankruptcy lawyer with 20 years of experience and if I spent the time and had done my own research, ROSS’s responses would be about the same as I could do.”
- “ROSS is the firm’s legal researcher for US bankruptcy law. We go to ROSS first and then if we need to we can go … deeper ….”