Toward a Disruptive Change in the Legal System

Brief Considerations at the End of 2018 Swiss Legal Tech Conference

This article is a brief summary of the relevant aspects of the Swiss Legal Tech Conference for our community. We are grateful to the woman who has made this the best European conference on legal tech topics, Petra Arends-Palzer. In addition to hands-on workshops, a 48-hour hackathon featuring over 100 hackers from 10 different countries, and day of very interesting and insightful presentations by top speakers from all over the world, the conference provided an opportunity for us to meet with some of the most influential innovators in legal tech. We expect next year’s Swiss Legal Tech Conference to provide even greater insight and opportunity to connect with the leaders of this dynamic field. If you are able to get yourself an invitation, it is a crucial event for all who are interested in legal tech to attend.

We had the chance to get in touch with Vinay Gupta, whose work, notably including Mattereum, has fascinated our team from the very beginning of the Jur project.

It was a great pleasure and honor to meet and have a talk with Vinay Gupta and discuss the blockchain and legal technology. We were glad to discover that he was aware of the work we are doing with JUR, our community-based voting system. One might find this incredible considering we have not really begun to promote the project actively yet, but Vinay has his eye on the horizon and Jur is already making waves.

When we first began to develop the Jur concept, we studied Mattereum in depth and we all became true fans. It was a pleasure to discuss models, perspectives and next steps of our projects together. We briefly discussed the pros and cons of the two models and the ideas we have in mind to solve the problems and complexities that will arise. It’s amazing how the different the blockchain world, based on sharing and cooperation, is from the old competitive and secretive models, and we are very happy to keep this dialogue active and open.

Our main takeaway from this experience is that Legal Tech and Reg Tech are growing up really fast, as shown here, for example. Anyone involved in the space in the last several of years will have noticed that there is a clear and sudden acceleration happening. Aside from some established products in the USA, the Legal Tech market is relatively new, starting to rise up slowly in 2012. In the future we might write more on the topic, but meanwhile, if you are interested you can take a look at this analysis.

We are glad to see that there is a nascent flourishing Reg Tech and Legal Tech ecosystem. We will soon be going live with our own formal contribution to this ecosystem, the Jur Alliance, a community of the best experts, creative minds and innovators in the sector. The Jur project itself will provide a general layer for many, or perhaps even all legal tech activities, for instance, contract automation, which will require dispute resolution.

We would like to give another special mention to PwC Legal Switzerland. We got in contact with Guenther Dobrauz and his pitch was great. PwC Legal has a couple of projects involving automation of contracts and an impressive and novel approach to managing internal flows in law firms. We’d like to highlight the fact that PwC is a traditional company in the legal sector that is branching out into innovative legal tech, bringing real new tech-based solutions with immediate concrete applications to the sector. Speaking with Guenther, we have learned that PwC has many more ideas in the pipeline for the future.

Lack of real use case scenarios and the need to “get real” and move away from theoretical ideas with little practical application is one of the most common criticisms of recent activity in the blockchain industry. The incredibly complex realities of the off-line legal world might seem to be a barrier to practical application of blockchain tech in this sector. It is certainly a challenge for every blockchain legal tech project. Indeed, it is a challenge for non-blockchain legal tech as well. While this industry is not yet mature, it is moving very fast. PwC provides a powerful example of how real world knowledge of traditional legal activity can inform powerful and effective tech solutions. This big company, with its global presence, makes a powerful statement about the immense and rising potential of legal technology that everyone should take into consideration.

Regulation in the legal field will have a big impact on how technological solutions are applied in the legal sector. For instance, for the Jur project, our solution will be much more robustly effective when we are able to establish clearly that our community-based arbitration mechanism has the same legal validity as traditional arbitration. We will revisit this concept as it applies to Jur and as it applies more broadly to the entire legal tech sector in future articles.

For now, we observe that PwC’s projects and other developments suggest that this rapidly evolving ecosystem powered by creative problem solvers with great ideas and powerful technology may bring widespread disruption of traditional legal models with a solid basis for institutional acceptance and support much sooner than expected. This unstoppable train is accelerating. Will you be on board?

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