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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Fastcase logo

Time to get your Boolean search skills up to snuff, with Fastcase.

Two items to add to your calendar, each from companies that are State Bar of Arizona member benefit providers (see the complete list here):

1. On Thursday, Oct. 20 (10:00 a.m. MST), Fastcase offers its “Introduction to Boolean (Keyword) Searches (2016),” which is part of your legal research member benefit.

2. And on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 (11:00 a.m. PT | 2:00 p.m. ET), Clio offers a free webinar titled “The Shift to Mobile Legal Services.”

As Clio describes:

Clio logo

Mobile + lawyering? Yes, say Clio.

Mobile devices have fundamentally transformed consumer behavior across a number of industries—and legal is no exception. Today’s legal client expects on-demand service and a seamless client experience, and modern lawyers are harnessing mobile technology to help deliver. Are you? Join us to see how attorneys can utilize smartphones in their everyday practice to great benefit, and how to address the inherent security concerns that come from mobile lawyering, including:

  • Ethics to keep in mind when accessing client data in public
  • How to setup your mobile phone for secure access
  • What apps to choose for legal practice, including a sneak peek at Clio’s new app
  • How to protect yourself and your clients while practicing on the go

(These are the same folks who brought you the well-regarded Clio Cloud Conference. Read about it here.)

The challenges that solo practitioners face are legion. And although the playing field may have been somewhat leveled over the past decade through widespread access to technology, the sledding may still be rather tough.

One Arizona development aims to make things a little easier, for solos or for any lawyer who may require access to legal research. This week, the Phoenix School of Law announced its Law Library Bar Access Program. Through it, lawyers and judges may gain “access to [the school’s] physical and online collections,” both at its downtown Phoenix location or via their own computers.

More detail on the Bar Access Program is here.

And here is a list of those who may apply for membership in the program:

  • Active members of the State Bar of Arizona
  • Active members of any tribal bar
  • Inactive members of any state or tribal bar engaged in pro bono service or scholarship
  • Employees of active members of the State Bar of Arizona under supervision per Rule 5.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

There are some modest fees involved: an annual registration fee of $120, and $30 “to defray the cost of the identification card.”

Phoenix School of Law Dean Shirley Mays said, “We are quite proud and excited to offer such an incredible resource such as our Law Library Bar Access Program housed here at Phoenix School of Law to the legal community in Arizona and beyond.”

Is this a benefit you may use? When I had my own law practice, I definitely would have made use of this, both for the resources and the support and insight a law librarian can provide. Today, however, is that still the case? Librarians, of course, can still be worth their weight in gold. But are the legal resources far more available than ever before—and at a good price?

Please let me know what you think of this offer. Or send me your own story about using it.

If you have questions about the program, contact Lidia Koelbel, Access Services Manager, at (602) 682-6899. The complete list of available resources and materials for on-campus and off-campus access is here.

Finally, don’t forget to bookmark the PhoenixLaw Library Blog, called Footnotes.

Phoenix School of Law Library