Augmenting the Practice of Law

In a response to comments in my last blog post about IBM Watson I mentioned a presentation that Kyla Moran gave at the last American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) conference. The presentation was called, “Contestant, Doctor, Lawyer, Chef: IBM Watson Moving from Jeopardy to the Legal Landscape,” and if you’re an AALL member you can watch the recording if you click that link.

For non-AALL members Jean P. O’Grady, Director of Research & Knowledge Services, at DLA Piper in Washington D.C., reports on this session in the recent AALL Spectrum: “Hand in Hand with IBM Watson: How Will Augmented Intelligence Transform the Way We Work?

O’Grady describes Watson like this:

“Watson learns from an expert’s experience but has the advantage of being able to absorb what Moran referred to as ‘obscene’ amounts of data. According to Moran, 98 percent of the data in the world today was created in the past two years. Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. We have a filter problem that Watson hopes to solve.”

And she describes a few “augmented intelligence” scenarios that would be useful in the context of legal practice:

  • The Smart Wall. Here Watson acts like a consultant
    responding to questions and providing information while
    lawyers explore new business possibilities in merger and
  • The Law Firm Context. Watson is trained like an associate,
    but an associate that never leaves the firm.
  • Access to Justice. Watson could improve access to justice if
    trained to “build low-cost access to justice systems for the
  • Legal Process Efficiencies. Watson might improve contract
    negotiation process reducing client costs.

It’s a good overview of the session which she concludes with the following advice:

“Take a deep breath; we are living in a post-Watson world. Everything is about to change.”

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