Six of Canada’s leading law firms recently joined forces on a ground breaking pilot project to develop a complex “smart contract” on the Ethereum blockchain. The experiment sought to explore the potential benefits of smart contracts in the legal context to better understand how law firms can leverage new technologies to best serve their clients. The participating firms were Bennett Jones LLP, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Fasken Martineau Dumoulin LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP.
Over a six-month period, the law firms collaborated with GenesisB, a progressive blockchain consultancy, to develop an innovative “smart” legal template on the Ethereum blockchain using the OpenLaw platform. Specifically, the law firms automated an M&A escrow agreement, coding several clauses using smart contract technology. The executed agreement automated issues related to indemnification claims, working-capital payouts and basic disputes using a pseudo-stable coin.
Through this exercise, the participating lawyers gained hands-on experience with the process of creating, testing and using a complex blockchain-based legal agreement. This provided valuable insights not only into the circumstances in which smart contracts could create cost-saving efficiencies for clients, but into the readiness of blockchain technology for the industry and the developments in the ecosystem that need to occur for its benefits to be realized.
“While we’re still in the early days of assessing the impact of blockchain technology on the legal profession, projects like this are demonstrating the potential for smart contract technology. As adoption grows, law firms and businesses can use OpenLaw to streamline contract automation while setting themselves up for the use of smart contracts,” says co-founder of OpenLaw, Aaron Wright.
OpenLaw is a blockchain-based protocol for the creation and execution of legal agreements. Using OpenLaw, users can more efficiently engage in transactional work and digitally sign and store legal agreements in a highly secure manner, all while leveraging next generation blockchain-based smart contracts. OpenLaw is the first project to comprehensively stitch together traditional legal agreements with blockchain-based smart contracts in a user-friendly and legally compliant manner. For more information, please visit openlaw.io.
GenesisB is a progressive blockchain consultancy helping companies create more efficient value exchange through blockchain solutions. GenesisB is exclusively focused on delivering meaningful ROI through business and technology innovation by leveraging distributed ledger technologies. By providing focused blockchain expertise, GenesisB helps organizations discover and realize the benefits of distributed ledgers including decentralized trust, smart automation, data security and immutable transaction history. Grounded in strategy, with relevant engineering expertise, GenesisB will help plan, design and implement effective blockchain solutions for both enterprise and government.
Fasken is a leading international law firm with more than 700 lawyers and 10 offices on four continents. Clients rely on us for practical, innovative and cost-effective legal services. We solve the most complex business and litigation challenges, providing exceptional value and putting clients at the centre of all we do. For additional information, please visit the Firm’s website at fasken.com.