Legal Technology

Law firms, tech companies partner to build new blockchain-based platform for smart contracts

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A group of law firms and tech companies have teamed up to develop the Agreements Network, a platform that will aid in the creation, use and sale of smart contracts for lawyers.

In a press release issued Thursday, law firms BakerHostetler, LegalBono and ErdosIP, and technology companies Clause, Crowdcube, LexPredict, Libra, Mattereum, Monax, Rymedi, TransparentNode and Wolfram Blockchain Labs announced the launch of the network.

With little to no code required, the platform will assist in the creation of automated payments and billing, signatures and registrations. It also allows for collaborative storage of documents and assets, as opposed to a contract being on a single firm’s network.

“If launched safely and properly, the Agreements Network could provide a foundational piece of technology for a range of innovative solutions in the legal marketplace,” Robert Craig, CIO of BakerHosteltler, a partner organization in Agreements Network, told Forbes.

The contracts work on the Ethereum blockchain.

While smart contracts have been around for some time, the growing interest in blockchain has accelerated development and investment in the technology. The Agreements Network seems to be leveraging this growth with the downward trend of client demand and lawyer productivity.

“As decentralized network commerce proliferates, customers globally will require a new set of legal products to manage contract operation and regulatory compliance,” according to the organization’s white paper. “Lawyers who learn how to offer focused high-value work in conjunction with reliable legal products at scale will be able to serve larger numbers of clients while spending fewer resources.”

“There’s a very real financial incentive for the law firm to become more efficient and provide more value,” Dean Sonderegger, general manager of the legal markets group at Wolters Kluwer, told Forbes. “Whereas it has traditionally been difficult to get attorneys to use different tools and apps, you’re seeing the market pull them in a way where they have to do that.”

The organization’s website names numerous use cases for smart contracts, including leasing issues on devices like drones, tracking remuneration and protecting intellectual property rights for digital content creators, and creating a record of incorporation documents to assist the creation of smart contract associated with that entity.

“As the world moves ever further down the path of digitization the legal functions of most businesses are being forced to migrate and update their systems,” Casey Kuhlman, CEO of Monax, a smart contract company in the United Kingdom, said in the release. “This is, fundamentally, a good thing. It will eventually reduce errors, increase certainty, decrease risk, and streamline operations at a core level.”

The network is currently being tested and will launch in October, Forbes reports.

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