Blockchain technology is showing up in a host of public and private contexts. For example, some government agencies are interested in blockchain technology for license registration and benefits programs. Likewise, blockchain has begun to affect attorney-client relationships in several positive ways.
With blockchain technology, transactions can happen directly between two parties, which could have major implications for the legal industry and those industries requiring attorneys adept in such technology. Blockchain tech can also be used to facilitate a fully transparent and accessible system of record, easing reporting requirements.
Attorneys who understand and use blockchain technology will be able to work with clients who use this technology to its greatest extent. Moreover, in firms and companies that employ this technology to streamline certain types of tasks, lawyers will be alleviated from administrative strain. Consequently, clients could see more attention and better service from their legal counsel.
Many different fields will begin to use blockchain technology, requiring legal professionals to provide their expertise. Clients in all types of industries from music to securities will seek guidance on the realities that blockchain technology creates for their businesses in regulation and policy. Law firms that position themselves as blockchain experts will thus be sought after by these businesses for assistance.
In all areas of practice, clients will soon pose questions related to blockchain technology. One of the most apparent implications of blockchain technology is the smart contract. Smart contracts leverage information and documents stored in blockchains to support legal agreements.
For those unfamiliar with the technology, smart contracts are legally-binding, programmable, digitized contracts that can be recorded on the blockchain, using variables and statements to, e.g., release funds using the network as a third-party executor, instead of trusting a single central authority (such as a government entity or a bank designated to play a facilitating role in the implementation and operation of an agreement). As these contracts are self-executing, it’s hard, if not impossible, to interfere with their execution.
Traditional legal agreements can be plagued by flaws, such as the ambiguities inherent in legal prose, the ponderous and time-consuming exchange of signature pages between parties, and the inefficient storage of legal documents. By utilizing smart contracts on the blockchain, lawyers and their clients could be spared certain organizational hazards, and even save time and money.
With the use of a technology like blockchain, a large portion of human error, lost documents, and filing discrepancies could be a thing of the past for attorneys and the legal industry as they adopt the use of smart contracts. All of these improvements means better service for clients, and more efficient work for attorneys and legal staff, who can dedicate their time to more pressing issues. Plus, meshed with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, smart contracts could radically change contract creation.
As seen with NDAs, implementing technology on the blockchain to streamline certain areas of the legal industry could significantly improve client services.
In adopting innovation in context, the business of law will be more efficient, allowing attorneys to engage more deeply in the practice of law. As a result, attorneys will have the time and ability to focus on the client relationships and client needs. While the manner in which attorneys service their clients will change, the need for expert legal advice and guidance will remain constant.