What is a blockchain-enabled legal department?
A blockchain-enabled legal department is able to seamlessly interact with its outside counsel and with documents and data from other departments with little or no friction, without compromising security or privacy. This technological capability holds the promise of allowing law firms and corporate legal departments to work together on legal matters and documents when all parties are on different technology platforms.
Removing technology friction from your outside counsel relationships, including problems of system interoperability, data reconciliation, and security concerns, allows your legal department to deliver more value by reducing the cost of outside counsel and reducing barriers to working with other departments in your organization and with outside counsel. Additionally, blockchain-enablement, when extended throughout the legal department’s technology stack, holds the promise of reducing costs and errors throughout many aspects of your operations, while also enhancing security and reducing technology attack vectors.
A blockchain-enabled legal department vigorously promotes and actively uses blockchain technology in appropriate settings, both within its own systems and in its interactions with outside counsel. A blockchain-enabled legal department has a critical mass of people who are blockchain-fluent and who use technology tools and systems that are supercharged by blockchain technology (such as their DMS, their CRM system, their e-discovery platform, their procurement and payables systems, and other tools and systems).
Why should a legal department become blockchain-enabled?
Blockchain is quickly changing the way legal departments work with outside counsel, provide services to their internal clients, and manage their internal work. Blockchain is an enabling technology; the capabilities blockchain enables will continue to grow quickly for the foreseeable future.
Legacy technologies employed in many legal departments are not able to natively interact with and support blockchain projects and blockchain-enabled law firms. A blockchain-enabled legal department, however, will be able to natively support blockchain projects and technologies. For example, many blockchain organizations rely heavily on blockchain for smart contracts, and there is no way for legacy matter management, document management, and contract management systems to integrate with native blockchains.
By becoming a blockchain-enabled legal department, a legal department will be better able to support its internal clients, with tools that enhance security and improve internal and external communication and with tools that support solutions for particular types of legal matters, such as procurement, supply chain management, and litigation support. In addition, a legal department that is “blockchain fluent” will be better be more efficient.
What are the next steps for blockchain integration and becoming a blockchain-enabled legal department?
In order to become a blockchain-enabled legal department, your legal department needs to have a sufficiently broad and deep understanding of blockchain technology (among your lawyers and IT professionals, in particular) that your legal department will be able to spot the best opportunities to deploy blockchain technology.
A blockchain-enabled legal department doesn’t automatically deploy blockchain where other, simpler technologies will meet the need.
A blockchain-enabled legal department commits to an ongoing process of education for its personnel and maintains a cultural expectation of innovation using blockchain technology. This cultural value will be maintained through consistent messaging from key leaders and integration into formal and ad hoc groups within the legal department, and by rewarding smart experimentation with blockchain, even when the experiment doesn’t yield the desired results.
To become a blockchain-enabled legal department, thorough preparation through your organization is required, including attorneys, support staff, technologists, and marketing professionals. All areas of your legal department will be impacted. Careful planning and coordination allows your legal department to take full advantage of its strengths in the marketplace. The phases of becoming a blockchain-enabled legal department might look like this:
Phase 1: Discover
Phase 2: Design
Phase 3: Refine
Phase 4: Implement
Phase 5: Validate
Phase 6: Rollout
Phase 7: Sustain
Phases 1, 2, and 3 are discovery, planning, and preparation phases designed to ensure that the implementation phases (Phases 4, 5, and 6) successfully deliver the desired strategic benefit. Phase 7 is ongoing and is implemented to secure and sustain the benefits your legal department will have created through becoming a blockchain-enabled legal department.
Throughout these phases, becoming a blockchain-enabled legal department may involve activities like these:
- Audit of systems and technology tools and software in use by the legal department.
- Integrate blockchain capabilities into existing technology stack.
- Blockchain application use case discovery, via interviews and workshops.
- ROI study and prioritization of use cases.
- Development of the legal department’s blockchain technology roadmap.
- Implementation of blockchain applications with outside counsel and other internal departments.
- Guidance to the legal department’s technology vendors about the legal department’s blockchain requirements.
- Blockchain 101 programs for lawyers, technologists, and adjacent professionals, as well as with and for outside counsel.
- Clean whiteboard workshops with the legal department to identify blockchain application projects.
- Implementation and integration of smart contracts and smart contracts platforms.
- Implementation of blockchain email encryption systems.
- Create a legal department blockchain lab, for experimentation with blockchain ideas (from within the legal department and from its vendors and outside counsel).
What types of blockchain – legal tech software integrations can a blockchain-enabled legal department implement?
Blockchain technology can be integrated into almost any modern software application. Because the Integra Ledger uses a RESTful API, even developers without blockchain experience can integrate this technology. Resources are available to help legal departments that want to integrate blockchain into one or more of the software tools they use in running the legal department.
Types of integrations and benefits
- Integrate blockchain technology into current software systems, which increases the security and integrity of data and delivers increased value and productivity.
- Integrate blockchain technologies throughout the legal department so that both in the practice of law and in its business operations, the legal department delivers market-leading efficiency for the organization.
- Create blockchain-enabled systems in projects that involve outside counsel, whether in substantive legal matters, such as supply chain, or for “administrative” tasks, like billing, email security, and other communications tools.
Examples of recent blockchain integrations
- Outlook plugin that easily encrypts emails end-to-end, with a push of a button.
Document Version Control
- Using blockchain technology, every change in a document is tracked on the Integra Ledger blockchain. Therefore, there is an immutable record showing which is the most current document and changes in that document. Any party working on the document, inside and outside the legal department (such as in-house counsel), know they have the most current document with the most recent changes.
- By embedding contracts metadata onto the Integra Ledger, a blockchain-enabled legal department can abstract key information from that document.
What are the next steps for blockchain integration?
Integra offers many blockchain services for the legal industry. Find out more information here.