• December 2019
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How Will Blockchain Smart Contracts Affect the Legal Profession

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Nowadays, it seems that revolutionary technology, designed to make our lives easier, more productive, more connected, healthier and/or more enjoyable is released on a surprisingly regular basis. And because technological innovations now impact virtually every aspect of American life, it can be difficult to remain informed about how every breakthrough technological creation is transforming the ways in which we work, play, connect and generally attend to the ins and outs of our days and nights.

For example, blockchain smart contracts are currently altering the ways that legal business is conducted on both corporate and individual levels. This may not seem like the most exciting technological innovation currently shaping the American way of life, but the evolution of contract technology may ultimately impact you in more ways than one. With that said, the reach and scope of blockchain smart contracts only reaches so far.

 

Drafting and Storing Contracts

The primary benefits of blockchain smart contracts is that they are easy to access/modify and easy to store. At present, most individuals access legal documentation via their attorney’s office or their business’s in-house counsel. Although contracts are increasingly drafted and stored electronically, they are usually not modified electronically. If changes need to be made, one must speak to the drafting attorney and have those changes sent over either via electronic means or via an edited physical copy of the document.

By contrast, blockchain smart contracts are often immediately accessible to all interested parties and may be drafted, modified and signed all within the same platform. This technology has the potential to speed up legal processes involving contracts, eliminate “crossed wire” communication between clients and attorneys and free up valuable time that in-house counsels may use to attend to more complex legal matters. As a bonus, blockchain smart contracts may potentially be stored in accessible ways by the affected parties, which would largely eliminate the need for attorneys to continually access documentation on behalf of their clients.

 

Why Only Some Smart Contract Models Are Effective

It is worth noting however, that not all contracts would benefit from being drafted, modified and/or stored as blockchain smart contracts. While some relatively straightforward contractual dealings could effectively be handled in this way, complex and/or consequential contracts should generally be handled by attorneys. Contracts are binding legal documents and should be handled with care. And especially because blockchain smart contracts are so easy to modify, it will remain important for an attorney to review any changes to potentially significant contract language that is unfamiliar or seems “out of place” to the individual receiving altered language from a contractual partner. Failure to consult an attorney in such situations could lead to potentially damaging consequences.

 

Legal Guidance and In-House Counsel Assistance Are Available

If you have questions about blockchain smart contracts, concerns about contract drafting in general or your in-house counsel could use some overflow assistance with contractual matters, please consider reaching out to the team at LawTrades. We have extensive experience supporting in-house counsels, providing short-term legal staffing and helping both businesses and individuals with their contract-related needs.