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If Watson Can Win Jeopardy!, Could He Do Our Legal Research?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 23, 2011 5:50 AM

If you haven't heard, Watson is the newest threat to mankind's continued domination of planet earth. IBM's supercomputer recently became a superstar as it faced off against Ken Jennings, Jeopardy's current record holder. Watson more than doubled Jennings' winnings, igniting panic amongst lawyers everywhere.

Wait, what?

Watson can clearly play Jeopardy, but can he do anything else? How are Watson and lawyers connected? Legal jobs are being outsourced to India, are they now going to be outsourced to a computer?

It's possible.

IBM has announced partnerships with eight universities in hopes of finding ways to leverage Watson's intelligence in a variety of industries, reports USA Today. The company's General Counsel, Robert Weber, has indicated that the company is actively seeking ways to integrate Watson into the legal field. Watson is a deep, vast database, that, in seconds, can pull up and analyze content for facts and answers, details The Wall Street Journal. This could change legal research.

Weber thinks you shouldn't worry too much about Watson. Legal questions are complex and require a set of skills no computer has yet to match. Watson can be rational, but he can't be reasonable. Clients would need Watson and lawyers, not just Watson.

Still, Watson could lead to the hiring of less first year associates, posits The Wall Street Journal. With Watson, legal research would be a cinch, and no longer necessitate associate attention. Or, if you prefer to be positive, maybe they'll just start giving first years real work. Well, in addition to checking Watson's research. After all, he didn't get everything right on Jeopardy.

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