I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Arruda, CEO and Co-founder of ROSS Intelligence, a new legal research tool that improves its intelligence with each lawyer interaction. He had the recently privilege to speak at a TED talk, which can be viewed here.
What do you do for a living and where do you work?
I am the CEO/Cofounder of ROSS Intelligence which builds artificially intelligent systems for lawyers. ROSS Intelligence is based out of San Francisco with a few satellite offices across North America. I’m usually on a plane though!
When did you decide to “leave” law, and was it a difficult decision?
In many ways, I do not think I truly left the law as ROSS Intelligence operates within the legal vertical but I did leave being a “lawyer.” I decided to leave after meeting up with Pargles Dall’Oglio and Jimoh Ovbiagele, my fellow ROSS Intelligence cofounders, and seeing the early ROSS prototype. I just knew that together, we could make it happen and so I left my job at the law firm I had been working at for about 6 years at that point.
What made it difficult wasn’t really leaving behind being a lawyer, but leaving behind the amazing folks I worked with during my time at the firm. I started working at the law firm in my first year of college and worked there to pay my way through college and law school so it was tough saying goodbye, but I still visit when I’m back in Toronto!
How did you and your co-founders at ROSS meet?
I met Jimoh Ovbiagele (ROSS Intelligence’s CTO) at an event at the University of Toronto. We struck up conversations about law, technology, and everything in between. A few years after our first meeting he called me and asked if I wanted to get involved in bringing artificial intelligence to the law. I met Pargles Dall’Oglio through Jimoh and together we got started on building ROSS, which went on to become the world’s first A.I. lawyer.
Do you have a coding background?
I don’t. What is interesting though is that when I started with ROSS, artificial intelligence’s new wind was just starting so a lot of the new concepts and training techniques were new to everyone, even those with a more traditional coding background. I learned on the job. I don’t really code but artificial intelligence isn’t really about telling a system to do something but teaching a system how to do something and letting it then learn and get smarter on its own.
What advice do you have for law students or active lawyers who are looking into software development, either as an engineer or an entrepreneur?
The advice I would say is that if you’re interested in doing it, start doing something with that interest. Our legal background does provide us with a fantastic base when it comes to working hard, applying ourselves etc. and you can really use this to your advantage.
When it comes to advice on “becoming an entrepreneur” I’m from the school of thought that entrepreneurs are born not necessarily made. I think you need that spark from within that you can then build on through education etc. but for me, the difference between an entrepreneur and anyone else, boils down to the fact the entrepreneur jumped into it, feet (or head) first.
Where do you hope to see ROSS and the way law is practiced in the future?
We hope to see a ROSS A.I. working alongside every lawyer in the world. When it comes to the future of law, we hope to see a world where everyone can afford legal representation and a reality where justice for all isn’t a catchphrase but a real thing. ROSS Intelligence has pledged to provide free access to deserving organizations which is something we are very proud of and a policy which we hope other legal tech companies also begin to adopt.