02/24/14-- Coral Gables-- Luis Salazar, of Salazar Law. J. Albert Diaz

Law firms have increasingly turned to artificial intelligence software platforms to cut research time and expenses.

Among the early adopters of AI at the boutique firm level is Luis Salazar, founder of Coral Gables-based firm Salazar Law.

Salazar’s firm serves individuals and businesses dealing with financial difficulties, complex commercial litigation or government investigations, and those looking to seize financial or business opportunities. He saw artificial intelligence software as an opportunity to help his own business.

As it has turned out, he says the software has saved him more than 100 hours of research man-hours in the last year.

“We’re using it to produce more efficient and relevant research for our clients,” said Salazar, who started using ROSS Intelligence software in August 2016. “We pay a periodic flat fee that is competitive with other legal research platforms such as Westlaw.”

With just over a year of experience using ROSS Intelligence services to research legal questions and write memos related to a variety of legal practice areas, including bankruptcy law, Salazar described the technology’s strengths and weaknesses to the Daily Business Review.

His comments have been edited for length and clarity.

How long did it take to learn how to use the software effectively?

Not long at all. The interface is intuitive and if you know how to use Google, you can use this easily. Great thing about it is that you don’t need to know the right language or code words. You plug in your query and it finds the answer for you.

What are the software’s strengths?

I’d say that the strength is in efficiency in finding answers to legal questions. When we analyzed the ROSS software versus similar services, we saw 20 percent to 30 percent greater efficiency in finding highly relevant results in less time. A search that would take 10 hours using other services would take about seven hours using Ross.

And it’s an easier process. ROSS finds the most relevant section in the most relevant case and throws it in front of you. The software’s memo writing tool is also quite good; in 24 hours it can produce a two-page, very crisp and concise memo that answers the questions that you’re asking.

In what way is it not as useful as you had hoped?

At this point, ROSS has a database limited to certain case law. We got it because it includes bankruptcy law, and it is very good at that. But it still doesn’t have a Florida state law search, for example. So you still need to have other services like Westlaw or something else.

How many clients are you using it with?

We’ve used it with every client who has needed legal research as part of the engagement.

Has it saved you on lawyer or paralegal work hours?

Yes, it is a time saver because it gets answers more directly, faster. It’s a money saver and a money maker. Since we do a lot of work on a flat-fee basis, getting faster results makes my flat-fee arrangement more profitable for all involved.

How reliable is it? How much time do you have to spend monitoring output and making sure it is accurate?

We’ve had no issues with reliability. I tested its reliability when we first subscribed by running searches on legal issues where we had done research using other tools. It produced the same results but just faster.

Who is liable if something is inaccurate?

It’s our responsibility to make sure it’s all accurate. The buck stops here.

Is AI use disclosed to clients when they sign on? Are the clients receptive?

I’ve found great reception across the board, but especially with general counsel. They are excited and curious and want to know how it works. I use it as part of my presentation of the benefits of hiring Salazar Law as an illustration of the kind of firm we are. More sophisticated clients want to see how it works and how it saves them money.

Who in the firm is using this day-to-day?

Everyone has access to it, from me to paralegals to associates. Our mission and culture is to innovate and improve our process and deliver for our clients. This is the future and we want to be ahead of it.