Bryan Cave has become the latest US law firm to sign up to IBM Watson-backed legal research tool ROSS Intelligence, Legal IT Insider can reveal, as the Missouri-headquartered firm also launches an internal ‘tech forward’ legal team called TechX to advance its use of and thought leadership around new technology.

Bryan Cave has been piloting ROSS in its bankruptcy team since October 2015, making it one of the earliest firms to start trialling the software. Led by chief innovation officer Katie DeBord, the firm signed with ROSS in November 2016.

With the support of Watson’s cognitive computing and natural language processing capabilities, lawyers ask ROSS their research questions in normal speech. ROSS then runs through available case law and legislation, gathers evidence, draws inferences and returns evidence-based answers. ROSS also monitors the law to notify users of new court decisions that can affect a case.

Bryan Cave will use ROSS in its bankruptcy department, however DeBord says that one of the key drivers for signing up to the new technology is to be part of the dialogue in how the technology can be used going forward.

“We signed up with ROSS as part of a broader initiative in the firm,” DeBord told Legal IT Insider.

“We’re creating a group called TechX and the idea is to proliferate thought leadership as to future forward legal technology among our attorneys.”

She adds: “I want our attorneys to know what the current stage of technology is and what the use cases are and to be involved in the discussion about how technology can be used.”

ROSS, co-founded in 2014 by CEO Andrew Arruda and CTO Jimoh Ovbiagele, both formerly students at the University of Toronto, has now signed eight US law firms including Dentons (which invested in ROSS through its innovation arm NextLaw Labs), BakerHostetler, Latham & Watkins, Womble Carlyle, Salazar Jackson, Dickinson Wright and vonBriesen.

The technology is currently live within bankruptcy and intellectual property teams but that will expand out in 2017.

DeBord said of the ROSS team: “They are listening to their law firms and building a product around the feedback and the iteration of ideas that are coming from the law firms. That’s exciting to me and I want to be part of the dialogue.”

Aside from Bryan Cave’s bankruptcy team, it will be the newly-formed TechX group that has access to and uses ROSS.

TechX is currently comprised of 20 lawyers from across all practice areas, all levels of seniority and almost every office of the firm. It also includes CIO Connie Hoffman and director of knowledge management Scott Reid, who joined the firm in September from Littler Mendelson.

The team will be the first port of call when Bryan Cave brings on new technology in a pilot and will be charged with thinking about and testing new use cases for that technology.

DeBord said: “The primary purpose of TechX is to engage lawyers, tap into our lawyers’ expertise in a coordinated way, and to enable them to build their thought leadership around technology.

“At legal technology conferences it’s fairly rare to have a practising partner on the panel but my strong desire is to get more attorneys included in these discussions, because they should be. We want them to be able to put themselves forward as tech forward attorneys and be a valuable resource.”

See also: BakerHostetler signs up with ROSS Intelligence as Dentons launches free global referral network

And: Womble Carlyle partners with ROSS Intelligence