Are we getting closer to machines in the practice of law? In his blog post “Meet your new lawyer, IBM Watson,” Ron Friedmann describes a meeting between IBM senior management and top-tier law firm CIOs at last week’s ILTA conference. He says:
It sounds like IBM intends Legal Watson to replace junior associates or at least perform much of their work (see also The Future of Law, American Lawyer, Aug 2014). Legal Watson’s success depends on the answers to three questions:
- What information – and how much – does Watson need to ingest and, to the extent necessary, who will tune or train it?
- If Watson ingests enough and is tuned, will it exercise good legal judgement? That is, can it actually replace some or all of what junior associates do?
- If its judgement is good, what is the market strategy? That is, who will use it and why?
It was only about 3 1/2 years ago that Simon Fodden talked about Watson here on Slaw. I wonder if he had any thought about Watson having a role in the practice of law? It would have seemed so unlikely.
Friedmann does a good job of speculating whether this would be possible and what it would take. What do you think–how far will automation go?