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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

WatsonLaw and the MIT School of Law – Science and Law Intersections

How will massive computing power change the practice of law? The ABA Journal for October 2014 includes discussion of IBM’s Watson supercomputer intersecting with law, and 10 related (and interesting) predictions. The article is by legal technologists Paul Lippe and Daniel Katz. Also interesting is a link within it to the MIT School of Law idea,  which is here and is a concept presentation by Mr. Katz.

One part of the ABA article is especially interesting as it focuses on predictive legal modeling that has achieved a 70% success rate:

“Watson, as well as other forms of machine learning, are likely to make further breakthrough in the direction of “quantitative legal prediction” in the years ahead. Forecasting is an important part of what many lawyers do. As an example, please consider a study [hyperlink omitted] recently released (by Dan and colleagues Josh Blackman and Mike Bommarito) that applies sophisticated techniques from machine learning to predict the voting behavior of the U.S. Supreme Court. Using only information available prior to the court’s decisions, their model was able to correctly predict 70 percent of the court’s ultimate outcomes.”

With that thought in mind, consider again the importance and power of the ongoing work at That company is using machine learning to think extensively about foreseeing “the next asbestos,” to oversimplify.  Their work is and will be a key to future toxic tort analysis, and hopefully to avoiding or reducing the future occurrence of mass torts.

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