Leveraging Blockchain Technology in Law – The Future of Legal Technology

Last Updated at: Nov 04, 2019
Leveraging Blockchain technology - The future of legal technology

Last year, the London Stock Exchange announced plans to partner with IBM to digitize securities certificate data with the adoption of the Blockchain technology. A seamlessly global database running on millions of devices, Blockchain is reshaping not just the financial services industry and the world of business for obvious reasons: it self-verifies and authenticates transactions, and it’s hack-resistant. However, most of us know Blockchain as the technology behind crypto-currency offering. In many fields including law, there is a need to realize the extensive ways in which Blockchain can be used to make processes more efficient or to develop new service offerings, but momentum is gathering as its applications are more widely understood.

Understanding blockchain technology

Blockchain is like a spreadsheet, accessible to many people at all points of time, with the ability to make changes that would be discovered by all. It integrates everyone involved in the transaction – the buyer, the seller, and everyone in the middle including the shippers, insurance agents, packers, financial service providers. Transactions are entered into and stored in millions of computers, granting security to the system, as a potential hacker may not be able to hack and alter data in all the storage systems simultaneously. This also reduces the chances of fraud in a business transaction.

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Why Blockchain presents an opportunity for the legal sector

In a Blockchain set-up, trust in data is established by mass collaboration and clever code rather than by powerful intermediaries like governments and banks, thus presenting unique opportunities and risks to law-firms in various practice areas. It will only be tech-savvy lawyers who understand how blockchain works, who would be ideally suited to defend their clients or render advisory services to governments and other agencies such as banking, finance, insurance, and intellectual property rights.

Smart contracts

If parties choose to put their contract on a Blockchain, the terms are transparent and enforcement can be made automatic, giving rise to what is being called a ‘smart contract’. While it threatens the traditional role of lawyers as intermediaries by obviating the need for title searches or notary publics as data is time-stamped and authenticated, due to the self-enforcing nature of smart contracts, the nexus of disputes in transactions will now shift to the stage of dynamic execution. Only the Blockchain-savvy lawyer can mediate and extrapolate from the technological understanding to assisting clients.

Using Blockchain in Intellectual Property Rights

Blockchain also provides a structure uniquely suited to protect intellectual property rights like patents and trademarks. Right from the application scrutiny, Blockchain can be used to understand the possible patent infringements. Through its secure, real-time platform for creation and distribution of creative works, Blockchain also promises to give owners of intellectual property a level of control that was previously unavailable.

The future of Bockchains is now and with assistance from other developments in law such as integration with courts, case management applications and cloud storage of cases, we are perfectly positioned to help clients navigate through this potentially disruptive technology.

Avani Mishra is a graduate in law from the National Law Institute University, Bhopal. She qualified the Company Secretary course with an All India Rank 1 and is a recipient of the President’s Gold Medal for her academic distinctions. She also holds a B.Com degree with a specialization in Corporate Affairs and Administration.