Legal elite join blockchain working group

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R3, an enterprise software company, has launched a blockchain working group and has recruited 10 of the world’s most prestigious law firms into the fold.

The group, which R3 calls the “Legal Center of Excellence (LCoE),” includes Ashurst, Baker McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Crowell & Moring, Fasken, Holland & Knight, Perkins Coie, Shearman & Sterling, Stroock, and White & Case.

“Understanding the legal implications of adopting distributed ledger technology is increasingly vital to the role of lawyers in general and in-house counsel in particular. We have been working closely with R3 for more than a year to increase the awareness of the risks and opportunities associated with blockchain, including co-authoring a white paper, ‘Blockchains and Laws. Are They Compatible?’,” said Adrian Lawrence, a TMT partner at Baker McKenzie in Sydney.

Legal requirements, particularly related to privacy, security, and regulatory compliance, are evolving rapidly, so it is important to ensure that the implications of new technologies are regularly revisited and discussed in forums like the centre, Lawrence said.

“Lawyers hold a key position in the financial-services ecosystem. Many of our clients are also clients of the world's leading law firms, a number of which have joined our Legal Center of Excellence,” said Jason Rozovsky, R3 senior counsel and head of the LCoE. “There is an overall benefit to our membership and the Corda community at large to collaborating with these firms about Corda and its capabilities early on, and to obtaining their valuable insights into the legal and regulatory environments in which Corda operates.”

Corda is R3’s open-source blockchain platform. It is designed to record, manage, and automate legal agreements between businesses. The platform uses smart contracts, which link business logic and data to associated legal prose in order to ensure they are rooted firmly in law, R3 said.

“A key feature of Corda is its ability to record an explicit link between human-language legal prose documents and smart contract code. This enables agreements between businesses to be executed automatically with minimal need for human intervention,” said Richard Gendal Brown, R3 CTO. “The LCoE will allow R3 to directly engage with the lawyers that will be advising on and helping draft the smart contracts used by the network of Corda users across the globe.”

The company established the LCoE to collaborate with and gather feedback from the legal sector to help law firm better engage with blockchain technology. It will also update R3 on the specific needs of lawyers and their clients.


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