Published on December 31, 2018 by Maria Correa

Blockchain Impact Legal Career

Blockchain technology is a recent addition to the world of legal technology innovation that enables users to save money, save time, raise efficiency and is heralded as the future. The purpose of this article is to discuss blockchain and its role in legal technology.

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1. What is the Blockchain?dla

Blockchain technology is a rather mystical word, in essence it is the technology which enables every user to have access to a record book where they list their transactions with other users.

A historical comparison would be the Norman Doomsday book which recorded everything about users activity but much more up to date with a constantly updated copy in all users hands.

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2. Transaction is more than money

I must be clear ‘transaction’ means ‘data’ and not just financial transaction, so anything that can be recorded digitally can be exchanged between users on the system with the right set up.

3. What are its benefits?

  • Blockchain records cannot be altered (fraudulent accounting) by any one user since other users records do not share the record, so only new transactions are recorded.
  • This makes a choice secure from outside threats as hackers cannot redirect funds, nor internal workers hide wrongful activity as the process is transparent and permanent.
  • The process also codes all transactions multiple times through the users, at a pace too fast and unpredictable for current technology to decode and hackers to get into.

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4. Why would the legal industry need this?

  • Currently the legal industry, like any other, faces the increasing threats of cyber security as work becomes more digitised.
  • They also face the problems of how to share information between clients and branch offices without hackers interfering.
  • As well as the delays with transferring information on conventional channels where internet is not great.
  • Then there are the natural issues with human error, or internal fraudulent activities. All of which costs firms and clients.

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5. Is blockchain the solution?

  • Blockchain has no main location like a HQ where previously hackers could focus attacks making it pointless for a hacker to break into one user they’d need to hack all.
  • This move away from HQ means that there would be a reduced threat of cyber security on main offices and less need to spend on cyber security.
  • Since blockchain codes data and sends it through different user, this makes it much more secure and faster, reducing security costs and delays.
  • Since the system requires less involvement from humans as computers are creating contracts and is transparent, reducing risk of human error and makes it easier to spot.
  • An added bonus for the legal industry is that networks can be designed personalised networks to perform a specific function so a legal network for one firm.

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6. What about other industries?

It should be clear the legal industry is not the only industry that benefits from this service, so can many other industries, with the saving for them and efficiencies in the legal sector leading to more business for legal services.

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7. Any examples in the legal industry?

There are examples in the three primary areas of the legal industry:

Public Sector:

  • The UK has a pilot scheme in place at present transferring evidence on the blockchain and could be used to securely connect courts with papers on the cloud.
  • Suffice to say the government is behind blockchain and digital solutions (Laser Hub) being integrated into the current process with £1bn being put towards it.

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  • Chambers in general have been less engaged with the blockchain as they do not have the same investment resources or structure as firms or the public sector.
  • Instead like St John Building they have favoured cheaper technology improvements like cloud computing and paperless saving £350,000 a year.
  • It is unlikely chambers will adapt as quickly as firms in this regard.

Law Firms:

  • After the government, firms have been the biggest integrators of the blockchain – given the benefits it has for global practice this is understandable.
  • Noted examples include Linklaters,Dentons, DLA Piper, Freshfields, and many more shown below who have been supporting the ClauseAccord Project’ ‘Ergo’ (smart legal contracts).

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Blockchain is moving at a fast pace, one which law firms and government is embracing whilst chambers are slow to embrace.

Lastly, blockchain is unlikely to reach full use for years, as the technology is still in the development stage. However, it is one watch and invest in as it will likely come to bear greater significance in the legal world one day.

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Author: Cameron Haden


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