Lawyers can contribute to the rise of blockchain by understanding it
Blockchain technology can make legal services more efficient and less costly by establishing automated smart contracts that don’t have to rely on human intermediaries to be enacted. According to David Fisher, founder and CEO at Integra Ledger, lawyers need to first understand how blockchain functions before it can be effectively used in the legal industry.
“I think the first step is for attorneys to understand what it is because there’s a common misconception that blockchain is a new application,” said Fisher as he explained during his “Blockchain Reaction: The Next Big Thing” presentation before a large standing-room-only crowd at the 2018 ABA Techshow. “People are used to thinking in terms of new software, new apps … but the reality is that just how you don’t go and buy the internet, you don’t go and buy a blockchain.”
This misconception has held back the development of new efficient legal tools that implement blockchain, which Fisher believes could make legal services more efficient because blockchain establishes digital trust between two parties, does not necessitate a third-party intermediary and is more secure.
“You rely on a human being to actually follow through, you’re relying on a lot of people to do something,” he said about the parties involved in real estate purchases. “What blockchain does is remove those untrusted intermediaries.”
Although lawyers are indeed the intermediaries Fisher is referring to, he maintained that blockchain couldn’t possibly render legal professionals irrelevant—instead, blockchain can only cover the more menial aspects of how legal services are provided.
“The parts of law that are basically mechanical are already being attacked by cloud services and existing software,” he said. “Blockchain just continues that trend by making it, in some cases, much more efficient just because of the digital trust aspect of it.”
Ultimately, Fisher argued that the use of blockchain in law won’t eliminate the type of higher-value advisory services that lawyers have always conducted. Rather, it would supplement or complement many of these services.
“Lets say there’s a criminal case and an attorney is representing the criminal, blockchain doesn’t change that—it can’t represent the criminal,” he said. “But if what you’re doing is sharing evidence, and you want to confirm that there’s authenticity and a permanent record, that’s where blockchain could be helpful.”
Follow along with our full coverage of the 2018 ABA Techshow