February 2017


The future of legal search will be embedded in artificial intelligence.

The future of legal search will be embedded in artificial intelligence.

Bob Ambrogi is an experienced and talented journalist who covers the legal profession. And all of that means he has the essential element of skepticism. So when he covers the evolving horse race in legal research, I tend to trust his takeaways.

Oh, you didn’t know there’s a horse race? Well, that could be a problem. Because strategic thinkers are assessing the best and most efficient ways to do legal research. Time was, we’d all sit at tables with mounds of books. And don’t forget your Shepard’s, unless you like malpractice claims.

We’ve advanced, of course, and most all of us know the ins and outs of some legal software, be it Lexis, Westlaw, Fastcase, Casemaker … what have you.

But the world is not standing still while the Lexises of the world (Lexii?) run the board. Instead, ROSS has entered the scene.

You may know ROSS Intelligence as the artificial-intelligence tool that has become adept at beating world-class chess pros. Bored, or something, ROSS has turned its attention to the legal field. I’m guessing there may be a few extra dollars in the legal field rather than in board games.

It was bound to happen, but someone has made a head-to-head (byte-to-byte) comparison of Westlaw, Lexis, and ROSS.

The takeaway: In certain areas, those first two had better get to the gym, because they are being outpaced by their artificial intelligence cohort.

You can read all of Bob’s takeaways here.

Part of the research into ROSS Intelligence included the user experience. (Source: Blue Hill Research)

Part of the research into ROSS Intelligence included the user experience. (Source: Blue Hill Research)

As you’ll see and maybe appreciate, he couches his conclusions with a number of caveats—not the least of which, the test was performed in a practice area—bankruptcy—in which ROSS was initially developed. So maybe that robot intelligence simply is most at home on that playing field.

But its competitors probably should not reside in that comfortable excuse. Clearly, the search landscape is changing.

And of course, in that change may be opportunities for lawyers. Especially those who are forward-thinking and recognize the strategic advantage in better, more efficient search.

Meantime, if you want an even deeper dive, here is the report from Blue Hill Research, the company that did the comparison tests, and detail from the ROSS folks themselves.

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state-bar-of-arizona-dementia-program

Every 66 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease.

That stunning fact—and its impact on our personal and professional lives—drove the creation of a special State Bar of Arizona program on dementia and its impact on lawyers and judges.

The free live webinar will be screened one week from today, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 10 am to 11:15 am.

More information and free registration are here.

The program is being produced by the State Bar and the Arizona Supreme Court, in cooperation with InReach.

As organizers say, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is rapidly growing in part due to the aging baby-boomer population and increased life expectancy. Currently, an estimated 5.4 million Americans are living with the disease.

The Bar’s hope for the program is to:

  • share information about the signs of dementia
  • provide links to help navigate the available resources
  • highlight the responsibilities and opportunities for lawyers and judges.

The program is not intended to offer CLE credit as it has not been developed with MCLE rules in mind. Instead, it is available as a service for members of the bench and the bar.

(The Bar will offer a follow-up three-hour CLE program in April that addresses Arizona-specific duties and opportunities.)

State Bar of Arizona logo 

asu-law-and-science-mock-trial-competition-header

Today I share an opportunity to participate in moot court—as a judge.

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board seeks volunteer judges for its competition on February 17 and 18. Here is the news from Tyler Carlton, the Chair of the Hosted Competitions Committee:

The ASU Moot Court Executive Board is looking for volunteers to judge the ASU Law and Science Mock Trial Competition on February 17 (Friday) and 18 (Saturday). We are looking for volunteers for all times slots, which are provided below.

Trials will be about three hours longs. We are very excited to host our competition this year in the new downtown Phoenix building with teams from Arizona, California, Colorado, and Texas. Volunteer judges will also be provided both breakfast and lunch. Volunteers can sign up for any times slots that they are available.

First day (2/17):

  • Judge Orientation: 9:00
  • First trial: 10:00-1:00
  • Lunch: 1:00-2:00
  • Judge Orientation: 2:00
  • Second trial: 2:30-5:30

Second day (2/18):

  • Judge Orientation: 8:00
  • First trial: 9:00-12:00
  • Lunch: 12:00-1:00

For more information or to sign up, contact Tyler at tdcarlto@asu.edu.

ASU Law School logo

Winding canal of the Central Arizona Project (Wikimedia Commons)

Winding canal of the Central Arizona Project (Wikimedia Commons)

If you live in the American West and are a person who uses water, or if your body is approximately 70 percent water, you may need to be interested in the state of water resources.

Fortunately, a program this Thursday provides a clear-eyed view of the issues.

This Thursday, February 9, a panel discussion will examine the “Arizona Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan: Arizona Water Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty.” All the detail is here.

It begins at 1:00 p.m., and will also be available via live simulcast.

Here is more background about the program from its organizers:

The State Bar of Arizona CLE Department, Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section, and Environmental & Natural Resources Sections are sponsoring a water program on February 9, 2017.

Of the 7 million acre-feet of water Arizona uses annually, 40 percent is Colorado River water. Arizona water managers predict Colorado River water shortages for Arizona may be as early as 2018 with the water in Lake Mead and Lake Powell now at historic low levels.

Bill Ralls, former federal water regulator of the Environmental Protection Agency and Chair of this water program, says, “With documented significant imbalances between future demands and water supply in Arizona, the time for action is now to find state and regional solutions to realize growth potential. The solution will likely be regional. The first chapter in this historic effort is now focused in the current negotiations to develop a regional drought contingency plan in the lower basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona.”

A distinguished panel of regulatory and water experts will analyze the current status of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency; Plan and Contingency Plan Plus of the Central Arizona Project.

The Colorado River cuts a pathway of 1,450 miles from the mountains of Colorado and Wyoming to Mexico, providing a water supply to nearly 40 million people in seven states. The Central Arizona Project currently transports Colorado River water several hundred miles to Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties, since 1986 to Phoenix, and 1994 to Tucson.

Map of the Central Arizona Project

Map of the Central Arizona Project

In addition, the panel of legal and hydrogeology experts will analyze the Arizona water regulatory framework:

  • The Arizona Corporation Commission regulation of water utilities
  • The Arizona Department of Water Resources regulation of groundwater
  • Pending Arizona wastewater reuse rule-making of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
  • Recent important water court decisions

Chair and Moderator:

  • William R. Ralls

Faculty:

  • Jay M. Johnson, General Counsel, Central Arizona Project
  • Kenneth C. Slowinski, Chief Counsel, Arizona Department of Water Resources
  • Timothy J. Sabo, Snell & Wilmer LLP
  • Charles S. Graf, R.G. Principal Hydrogeologist, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality