You may be familiar with Blockchain from its relationship to the financial world. Just in case you would like to learn more, or want to learn how blockchain relates to legal practice, here are two great articles.
In January, Law Technology Today (LTT) wrote a two-part article, "Blockchain 101 for Lawyers." Part 1 explains first just what IS blockchain, and then describes is applicability for lawyers. As far as the definition, the photo above is a helpful reference. A distinct block of information is secured, then a subsequent secure block created when new information is created as a business process moves forward. A chain develops because the movement is only forward -- the idea being that you cannot go backward and undo, interfere with, or otherwise change data in previous blocks.
Meanwhile, the information contained within the blocks is not captive of one party. The parties to a transaction can confirm transactions in real time because all have access to the transactional ledger, as the article describes it. Blockchain provides precision as to the timing of data entries and other activities recorded. While blockchain began in finance, its value as a data-recording and archiving tool have come to the field of healthcare, and now to the practice of law. Part 1 continues to outline the security of the design and impact on clients.
In Part 2, the LTT article describes the strategic timing for lawyers who realize the regulatory, logistical, and yes - the legal implications blockchain will have for clients. "[T]he lawyer as trusted advisor is situated differently than others most likely to have blockchain savvy (e.g. IT advisors). Yes, IT knows the technology (maybe). But only the lawyer can extrapolate from the technological understanding to what this really means for a client operating in a law- and regulation-bound environment," LTT, Blockchain for Lawyers 101...Part 2, Jan. 31, 2017.
Last week, Hélder Santos of CMS Services EEIG published a blog post, proclaiming that blockchain technology could be a "legal mind-blower." His post opens a bit tongue-in-cheek saying if 20 years ago, internet-based tech confounded some attorneys, then blockchain will be a "real mind-blower." He explains the basics of blockchain, and adds the important point that blockchain is a technology on which other systems have been built -- and some of those systems have been hacked. Knowing this equips lawyers to better advise their clients as they together seek to anticipate uses of technology and future pitfalls.
Santos explains how Steptoe & Johnson has created a multi-disciplinarian practice to help manage blockchain for clients, and that the firm will also accept Bitcoin as payment. Still, he notes that the technology is in its infancy, that a majority of servers blockchain utilizes are located in China, thus there is concern for security.
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