ROSS Gets a Dose of Reality: Legal Technology and AI Trends

Sorry, ROSS, you’re not just on a break – this appears to be for good…

As covered here by Bob Ambrogi’s excellent LawSites blog and also here by Artificial Lawyer, ROSS Intelligence, a company that sought to innovate legal research using artificial intelligence built upon Watson, IBM’s cognitive computer, and that helped to raise awareness of AI throughout the legal industry, announced that it is shutting down its operations.

“We have made the difficult decision to shut down operations at ROSS Intelligence,” the company said in a statement issued this morning. “As of Monday of this week, we have no longer been accepting new customers. As of January 31, 2021, the ROSS platform will no longer be available. Between now and then, our priority is to help our current customers transition to other services.”

Even as it ceases operations, however, the company vows to continue its legal battle with Thomson Reuters, using insurance funds to pay its litigation costs.

“The company will continue as a going concern so that the facts at the heart of this lawsuit are brought to light and so that Westlaw’s tactics — using litigation as a weapon and stifling competition — do not succeed,” the statement said.

Thomson Reuters sued ROSS in May, alleging that it stole content from Westlaw to build its own competing legal research product. ROSS did this, TR alleged, by “intentionally and knowingly” inducing the legal research and writing company LegalEase Solutions to use its Westlaw account to deliver Westlaw data to ROSS en masse.

Within a day of the lawsuit, ROSS responded with a vigorous denial of the allegations, asserting that TR’s lawsuit was nothing more than an anticompetitive tactic by TR to squelch an up-and-coming competitor.

In its announcement, ROSS cited inability to raise funding to “fuel” development and marketing efforts because of the lawsuit as the reason they are ceasing operations.  ROSS has made arrangements for current customers to transfer their accounts to one of three other legal research platforms: Fastcase, vLex or Casetext.

In the Artificial Lawyer account of the announcement, the authors speculated that ROSS wouldn’t have survived as an independent business regardless of the TR lawsuit as “much of what they did in legal research using NLP/ML {natural language processing/machine learning} techniques to get a better result for lawyers was cutting edge. It has not been cutting edge for a couple of years now.”

I covered the announcement when ROSS landed its first big law firm clients, including BakerHostetler, back in May 2016.  Did the TR lawsuit doom ROSS or was it trying to compete with large companies like TR and LexisNexis?  Either way, it’s hard to be a small company in an industry dominated by bigger players.  Too hard for ROSS, as it turned out.

Speaking of AI, just a reminder that, this Wednesday(December 16th), The Corporate Counsel Business Journal (CCBJ) will conduct the webcast Jumpstarting AI – Understanding Uses, Breaking Barriers at 1pm ET (noon CT, 10am PT).  Join Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft; Zain Dhanani, Director of Analytics, GoHealth; Bobby Malhotra, E-discovery Counsel, Munger, Tolles & Olson, Jeff Grobart, Associate Director, Professional Services, H5 and me as we discuss AI use cases, means and methods for implementation and more.  It’s going to be a great discussion of “other” uses of AI to support legal objectives.  Don’t miss it!

So, what do you think?  What do you think the announcement that ROSS is shutting down means for AI in legal?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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