A Conversation with Andrew Arruda

How can we lead change in the legal industry? The Legal Innovation Zone at Ryerson University hosted a chat with legal tech expert Andrew Arruda to discuss this topic.

Andrew Arruda and Chris Bentley talk about legal innovation at the Legal Innovation Zone.

Andrew Arruda and Chris Bentley talk about legal innovation at the Legal Innovation Zone.

Written by Deborah Jesus.

Last Monday, February 4th, the Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) welcomed Andrew Arruda, CEO and Co-Founder of the artificial intelligence company ROSS Intelligence, for a conversation about innovation and technology, opportunities we all have to lead in the industry, and ways to foster growth in the Canadian legal tech ecosystem. As part of the event, the LIZ invited Toronto’s community of legal innovators to watch a live product demo of ROSS Intelligence and to engage in a Q&A session.

There was a conversation between Andrew and Chris Bentley, Managing Director of the LIZ, followed by a lively discussion. We’ve put together some of the main takeaways for you.

How to get buy-in from lawyers?

Many Canadian legal tech entrepreneurs find it challenging to sell their products to law firms and lawyers. As Andrew mentioned, lawyers are known for being highly skeptical professionals. The industry has relied on the same processes and methodologies for decades. How might one persuade them to adopt technology in their practice? Education is the missing link.

“We’re seeing law firms genuinely try, but they don’t know what to do. It’s a transitional period. It’s up to us, as a community, to step in and help them,” said Arruda.

Legal innovators have the opportunity to educate the market about their products’ capabilities and potential. Automation, blockchain, and machine learning are popular terms, but not everyone is aware of what these technologies do or how they can help lawyers improve their services. It is up to legal tech professionals to explain and demonstrate the possibilities.

Does Toronto have an opportunity to lead?

The short answer is yes. “100%. The LIZ is an example in Toronto. Singapore is also doing amazing stuff around innovation.” Arruda explained. “Startups are working very closely with different levels of government and getting access to diverse spaces.”

With a focus on the development of solutions using AI, the city of Toronto has become a hub for companies and skilled professionals working with this technology. The Toronto legal tech community is well positioned to tap into these opportunities and lead in the global arena.

Regulation and its challenges

In addition to industry resistance, entrepreneurs also face challenges from regulatory bodies: both are reluctant to accept professionals with no legal background. Andrew remains optimistic. “I do think there has been an openness towards deregulation in the space,” he affirms. The sector is becoming more accepting of non lawyer ownership and having different professionals in the industry.

Practitioners in North America may benefit from examining international approaches. Andrew highlights, for example, the case of England, where we witness an increased openness to multi-disciplinary practices and alternative business solutions. The English experience shows that providers can maintain their ethical duties just as legal professionals do. “I look forward to the day when legal tech entrepreneurs will need no formal legal background,” he adds.

Collaboration is key

The time is now. “We are entering this amazing golden age for legal innovation and technology. We all need to start collaborating more and working together as one,” said Andrew. He sees the lack of collaboration in the community as a setback for legal tech entrepreneurs.

Lawyers, engineers, law firms, and regulators all stand to benefit from a more cooperative effort. A wide combination of professionals bringing diverse perspectives to the table will also ultimately serve consumers of legal services more comprehensively and effectively.

There is so much we can learn with Andrew! For a better understanding of his product and how it is helping lawyers in the United States, we invite you to watch the live demo and Q&A session below.


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