Category Archives: digital tools

Smart Contracts

Lawyers don’t like this, but more and more of their services are being digitized. It is not because digitization is better than advice given by highly educated and experienced professionals. It is because it is good enough for a given situation and less expensive.

I bumped into this the other day when a lawyer refused to negotiated a fee for drafting a legal document because he didn’t want to sacrifice his “reputation for quality”. Well, too bad for him. We just didn’t need to pay a huge fee for a relatively minor function.

Along comes the idea of “smart contracts“. What is that? Well check out the link.

Smart contracts hold the potential to empower people to build a fairer, more affordable and more efficient legal system and smart oracles are one of the simplest ways to realize that dream.

And what is a smart oracle?

Most proposals for smart contracts depend on independent entities to inform contracts about the state of the outside world. Bitcoin contracts rely on “oracles” to attest to facts from the outside world by introducing signatures into the network if and only if specific conditions are met. For instance, the smart contract for a will would need to know whether or not someone had died.

The point is that new network technologies are reducing the need for centralized control to ensure trust in transactional settings. Lawyers will need to get their hands around this idea.

Re-Thinking Templates and Forms

All lawyers use forms to build up complex agreements.  And building up a library of great templates is one of the rewards of experience in law practice. But … times are changing.  Clients have been and will continue to be in a mood to cut legal costs by taking over functions that they used to pay for. And that includes contract management.  Here is a quote from an article about Huron Legal’s new contract management product

… as technology that strengthens the synergies between legal and business departments continues to develop, that notion has begun to fade. The most frequent source of that synergy comes from programs and process optimizing software that targets low complexity high volume tasks like matter management and billing, and recently Huron Legal unveiled a solution designed to tackle another common area of focus for the legal team; contract management.

Large clients are likely to buy more of these products rather than less as the world legal markets move into the digital era. Are you moving with or against the trend? Something to think about.