General counsel Weber says IBM won’t be rolling out legal applications in the next quarter, but he believes they aren’t far off. To encourage innovation, IBM has opened up the technology to private equity firms and small entrepreneurs. Ferrauiola says Watson won’t replace lawyers, at least not most of them. “Folks who don’t understand the technology could be afraid of it,” he says. “This is not displacing, it’s enhancing.”

In talking about Watson, Weber at times sounds like a proud parent bragging about his gifted child’s potential. “I think Watson could pass a multistate bar exam without a second thought,” he says.