What’s the difference between a traditional lawyer and a digital lawyer?
The main difference between a traditional lawyer and a digital lawyer is the ability to work with coded instructions. It’s the ability to understand there’s a logic-based process happening behind what you’re delivering.
The average in-house legal counsel is facing fundamental challenges on how they’ll run their departments going forward, because many businesses are undergoing major digitisation and transformation programs. We need digital lawyers to provide strategic and informed advice to boards.
You’re a subject matter expert in smart legal contracts. Can you explain what they are and how they are different to smart contracts?
At the moment, a contract is a static piece of paper that doesn’t do anything of its own volition.
Some people use ‘smart legal contract’ and ‘smart contract’ interchangeably, however in my book a smart contract could just mean self-executing code, it isn’t necessarily legally binding.
A smart legal contract is a legal contract that has code embedded in that contract, or automations that assist the contract to perform those coded actions post-execution.
You could say it’s a contract where somebody has placed a digital executive assistant inside the contract. That digital executive assistant can perform tasks contained in the contract, and has a perfect memory of all the tasks that have been performed in that contract. If, as a client, you can listen to all of those digital assistants in those contracts and see all those contracts en masse, you’ll get a lot of really useful information about your business.
What do we need to make smart legal contracts as normal and mainstream as regular contracts?
If you create anything for lawyers, you need to have products that lawyers aren’t scared to use, and keep the legal certainty of the document. So the first thing needed is to ensure the applications of smart legal contracts are adoptable in real life.
The second is cybersecurity and privacy. Moving contracts from pieces of paper to software has huge implications. If we take contracts and we put them in a digitized form, we need to be very confident that the type of infrastructure we run those contracts on is not somebody’s honey pot of data.