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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Citrix Sharefile logo

Citrix ShareFile wondered how lawyers use the cloud. So they looked into it.

I occasionally share information and tools from member-service providers. Today, let’s think about … the cloud.

Citrix ShareFile was curious about how many lawyers are using the cloud for their work. And being helpful people, they provided their findings in an easy-to-digest infographic.

Being helpful myself, I’ve parsed it out for you down below.

Please note that Citrix understands lawyers and their needs. How do we know that? Well, they’ve even got footnotes—7 of them—in their infographic. How lawyer-friendly is that?

And as long as we’re on the subject, I urge you to read Bob Ambrogi’s insightful article here. It discusses the fact that many lawyers still say they are hesitant to operate their law practice in the cloud. But one of the unique findings is that lawyers may already be operating there and don’t even know it.

As Bob reports:

Lawyers remain conflicted (surprise!) over using the cloud for legal work.

Lawyers remain conflicted (surprise!) over using the cloud for legal work.

“Every year, the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center publishes the Legal Technology Survey Report, a survey of the legal profession’s use of technology. The 2016 survey is now out, and it contains some surprising findings about lawyers and the cloud. (The full survey costs $1,995 and separate volumes cost $350 each.)”

“According to the survey, only 38 percent of lawyers say they have ever used cloud-based software for law-related tasks. That percentage is only a slight budge from the prior three years, during which the percentage hovered around 31 percent. Fifty-three percent say they have never used cloud-based software, and 10 percent have no idea whether they have or not.”

That’s right: 10 percent do not know if they have used the cloud.

Maybe we need to understand what the cloud is before we go dissing it, eh?

Before I forget, here is the great resource Bob Ambrogi named, the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center.

And, finally, here is what Citrix can tell us about our complicated relationship with the cloud. (As always, click to biggify.)

ABA blog question and data (Chart via Bob Ambrogi's Law Sites Blog.)

(Chart via Bob Ambrogi’s Law Sites Blog.)

Recent data from the American Bar Association suggests that fewer lawyers are blogging than have in the past. What this means … well, it could mean a few things.

Many folks—myself included—have advocated for the power of a blog to alter an attorney’s work life. Will a blog transform your law practice and rake in the clients? Probably not. Just like any tool at your disposal, this one can serve your particular needs—but you still have to identify what those needs are.

The hard work of determining your blog’s goals may have resulted in disappointment in the results—which were never clearly aimed for in the first place.

A very good roundup of the ABA’s new data is written by Bob Ambrogi. Among his mentions:

“Blogging was down among lawyers in all firm sizes except those in firms of 10-49 attorneys, where the percentage of lawyers who blog rose a point from 5% in 2013 to 6% this year. Among solos, the percentage who blog dropped from 12% to 10%; among those in firms of 2-9 attorneys, the percentage dropped from 11% to 8%; and in firms of 100 or more attorneys, the percentage went from 10% in 2013 to 9% this year.”

One interesting element of the ABA’s queries relates to its asking lawyers whether they “personally” maintain a blog (see chart above). Well, what else would they do?

As I have mentioned before, a debate exists over whether a lawyer’s blog is just another marketing tool, which no one (let alone potential clients) expects is penned by the lawyer herself.

Others (like me, for instance) see the blog as an opportunity to share your own thinking. It is not just like a lawyer bio, which we know a PR pro wrote. Neither is it like a brief, which everyone understands was drafted with the assistance of partners, associates and clerks.

As long as lawyers believe they can “farm out” the drafting of their own insights and legal perambulations, I’d wager that the decline in blogging may not be a bad thing.

What do you think?