There are many reasons we all stand back and “keep an eye” on blockchain technology, it is new technology – stay away until it becomes more of an accepted thing, there is no way it can be trusted – it is just technology trusting technology, outlaws use it to exchange money – lots of it. Don’t be fooled, it is here and those taking it seriously are already working flat out to adopt the super secure and rock solid transaction history systems in just about all aspects of business – and law business is one with a big target on it’s back.
I attended a seminar hosted by Deloitte at their offices in Woodmead, Sandton titled “Blockchain: from hype to prototype” recently and was rather blown away by the urgency and attention being given to blockchain, not only in their assumed natural financial sector, but in just about every type of industry you can imagine. In fact, Deloitte are so serious about the technology that they opened a blockchain Lab in Dublin this January.
The lab is intended to find solutions in the blockchain technology, prove the concept, develop the system to a functioning prototype and then hand over the solution to their clients for implementation into their own business solutions.
The presenters from this seminar, Cillian Leonowicz and Eoin Connolly were both from the Ireland blockchain Lab, which made it very interesting as these guys are entrenched in the technology, the design of the solutions and the implementations into the real business world.
Not only are Deloitte taking blockchain very seriously, but Cillian and Eoin pointed out where the various countries are, in using and embracing this new technology in their core backbone systems. The Netherlands are leading the rest of the world where the Central Bank has given their support to a blockchain development campus which shares all of it’s findings with the countries leadings banks, and the Central Bank has also started developing the DNBCoin (a prototype coin based on blockchain technology).
Speaking to Cillian and Eoin after the seminar, I asked them about what opportunities there were for law firms and they mentioned that the whole ownership aspect of blockchain opens a huge opportunity for law firms around the world, as at the moment, if something goes wrong with the blockchain, there is nobody to take the responsibility. Basically, who owns the IP of the blockchain?
Also with all the development of blockchain solutions, the products and businesses need to be cemented with a solid legal structure, something that comes after the development, but before the products roll to market. So, there is opportunity out there for law firms, all it takes is for lawyers to get to understand the technology, attract the market and do the work ;-).
They said that transfer of title with new property developments is an absolute no-brainer for blockchain Smart Contracts, but for that of the existing property transfers, it would be a long time until they could unwind the physical, old traditional systems into a blockchain solution going forward.
Smart Contracts are contracts designed with embedded intelligence and workflow using blockchain technology.
“Smart Contract is a computer program code that is capable of facilitating, executing, and enforcing the negotiation/performance of an agreement (i.e. contract) using blockchain technology. The automated process can act as a complement, or substitute, for legal contracts, where the terms of the smart contract are recorded in a computer language as a set of instructions.” (http://www.blockchaintechnologies.com/blockchain-smart-contracts)
A video that explains how Smart Contracts work
Now is the time to educate yourselves about blockchain and smart contracts, not only for your own processes and systems, but to allow you to help your clients who will soon start rolling out with solutions built on this technology.