Law-focused blockchain startup OpenLaw announced on May 7, 2019, that six of Canada’s leading law companies – in partnership with blockchain consultancy firm GenesisB – will develop an “innovative smart legal template” on the Ethereum blockchain. Notably, the project will be built over OpenLaw’s smart-contract platform.
Bringing Blockchain to Law; One Contract at a Time
With the rapid pace of technological advancement, fears of automation have skyrocketed across every industry. These fears have been especially high in the long untouched legal industry which looks primed to be disrupted by emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.
However, experts opine that it is only the ground-level work in the law industry that runs the risk of being automated.
Looking to capture this relatively new and untapped market segment, a number of law-focused blockchain startups, including OpenLaw, have developed smart contract platforms to automate the most clerical of legal tasks.
According to the startup’s Medium post, the pilot project supported by six of Canada’s top law firms seeks to explore the benefits of using smart contracts in the legal space. It also aims to develop a better understanding of how emerging technology can help the participants serve their clients. The six legal firms involved in the project are Bennett Jones LLP, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Fasken Martineau Dumoulin LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, and Stikeman Elliott LLP.
The project has been in existence for six months and has already provided encouraging results. Reportedly, the participating law firms automated an M&A escrow account by coding several legal clauses with the help of smart contract technology. The resulting agreement has automated issues pertaining to indemnification claims, working-capital payouts, and basic disputes using an in-house stable coin.
This demonstrates the extent to which smart contracts can simplify the work for law professionals, giving them more time to focus on issues which require a more human element. The pilot run of the project also gave the participating lawyers hands-on experience with the process of creating, testing and executing a complex blockchain-powered legal agreement.
Aaron Wright, the co-founder of OpenLaw, said:
“While we’re still in the early days of assessing the impact of blockchain technology on the legal profession, projects like this are demonstrating the potential for smart contract technology. As adoption grows, law firms and businesses can use OpenLaw to streamline contract automation while setting themselves up for the use of smart contracts.”
Law Industry Warming Up to Blockchain
There’s no denying that blockchain technology has stirred considerable excitement in the legal sector.
BTCManager reported on April 27, 2019, how Zhang Wen, the president of the Beijing Internet Court, stated that distributed ledger technology (DLT), along with AI is increasingly being used to settle internet court cases in China.