Every Watson Needs A Holmes

IBM has come up with “Outside Counsel Insights,” a new way for Watson Legal, its specialized cognitive computing system, to benefit clients’ bottom lines. This tool can save up to 30 percent on annual spending for outside counsel, according to an article published by Law.com.

So far it’s been embraced only by legal departments in the financial services industry, according to the article. Don’t count on that exclusivity lasting.

What lawyer with business to distribute wouldn’t welcome very specific feedback on how much time an outside counsel spends completing a task, or how the lawyer prioritizes each phase of the work?

With such information handy, a fixed fee practically sets itself.

The technology could even help strategize. For example, Watson’s OCI can recall which motions worked with which judges. It can remind an interested observer how a lawyer scored on cross-examination—even if the cross-examiner would much rather forget.

Watson OCI can be a wonderful addition to a law firm’s toolbox. One size doesn’t fit all, so it may not apply to every client. But some certainly will benefit from it. While a traditional client might be reticent to try something like this, think of a savvy millennial entrepreneur. That client might well hire a mid-size firm or a boutique that not only has the best specialist for the job, but keeps up with technology usually associated only with Big Law.

A smaller law firm can only enhance its competitive advantage by availing itself of tools once thought cost-prohibitive and out of reach. Over time, as the market has developed artificial intelligence, it has become more affordable. Now everyone has a genuine shot at using AI to grow and to run a profitable business.

By giving the client the ability to see the steps and the amount of time it takes a lawyer to carry out a task, you’re educating your target audience. If the client hasn’t performed a task herself, it’s hard for him or her to guess how long it should take.

Importantly, the process delineates the case’s roadmap. It provides a 360-degree view of the lawyer’s theory of the case and why the task was addressed from one perspective and not from another.

This can foster long-term relationships because you’re able to build trust based on your expertise, which you’ve laid out for the client to see.

It’s all about creative thinking. We all want the secret sauce, when in fact there is no secret sauce. The real secret is hard work. So if the client sees a lawyer exploring different scenarios before settling on one, the client begins to trust the process and understand tactics that may at first seem eccentric or “out there.”

Watson OCI should not only be understood and accepted, but appreciated for all it can do. Some lawyers might be put off by the idea of measuring metrics without applying a human factor, but that’s a phantom fear. The technology can’t operate effectively without human intercession and oversight.

You always have the ability to say to a client, “I, the empathetic, passionate and zealous litigator, will represent you and Watson will parse out the matter at hand.” That’s a winning combo.

The advantage is obvious to the client, who gets the personal touch and nuance that only a human being can deliver, with the backing of a proven tool that can distill every figure, byte and word.

There will still be omissions that a machine would not pick up but a lawyer can and will. That’s the power of the human touch that can only be enhanced by a robot—not replaced by one. This should be every lawyer’s mantra: Keep up or become obsolete. Offer your clients customized solutions or they’ll look elsewhere to find them.

For more on Watson OCI click here.