In an interview for ‘The Lawyer’ in 2017, Janvi Patel (the co-founder and chairwoman of Halebury law firm) suggested that the future of the legal services would be powered by technology.

When asked what was holding in-housers back from exploring new technologies, she said: ‘understanding your team’s requirements’ and ‘external spend’ ‘to understand which technology would be most useful’. She also claimed that ‘nobody likes change’’, ‘heads of legal and G’s [need to] change their mindset so that they embrace change’’.

Halebury themselves are viewed as an alternative law firm.  They responded to pressures to do more for less in the legal sector. They also offer more than standard firms. They are NewLaw pioneers, providing flexibility to clients and services such as advisory, legal project management, and legal resourcing which helps you get the best out of your case for the lowest cost possible.

New innovations in technology, such as Blockchain, could allow companies such as this to push the boundaries of ‘more for less’ in the industry without having to make major differences in the ways of practice.

Technology aims to make things easier for companies, whilst saving on costs. Blockchain was created alongside the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin in 2008 as the network to which bitcoin was transferred. The network is to be the most secure form of sharing information, allowing you to exchange money and store/find files with reassurance the information is safe. Blockchain was originally idealised to hold and timestamp documents so that they could not be tampered with.

A newer addition to Blockchain is Smart Contracts, this would allow law firms to set up a contract with the client which is encrypted and cannot be edited. It also means that the client pays money to the contract and therefore activating it. The Smart Contracts block allows the trigger of payment, penalties or cessation of service based on the outcomes and incomes of the contractual terms. For example, if the client doesn’t pay their fees, the contract will not be activated and work will not be started.

The Intellectual property block would allow royalties from streaming to be coded into Blockchain, ensuring artists get paid immediately.

Many large scale companies have already put Blockchain in place and it is gradually becoming more popular to medium scaled companies. 41% of law firms use/plan to use Blockchain for transactional legal services already and 21% of law firms use/plan to use Blockchain for business support.

IBM hyperledger software allows companies to build their own Blockchain Networks to share and regulate data. This could help by combining databases and reducing the fraud that would go on within the external databases.

The main attribute of Blockchain is its security, and those investing would need proof that this technology works. Larger firms have the budget to hire expertise people to work with the Blockchain technology, whereas smaller firms may fall behind, having to work with technology companies or send staff to training session.

Blockchain technology could replace the need of some lawyers due to the attentiveness on goods and services. Disputes would be able to resolve themselves without the need for a third party. This could mean that with the addition of artificial intelligence, many sectors such as banking law and financial services law would be outdated and unnecessary.

In the future it is possible that most of smart contracts within Blockchain would be almost completely automated with needs for human work in small aspects.

In 10 years, law firms could look very different than they do now. If Blockchain keeps on progressing and is used by everyone, there will be less demand for lawyers to resolve conflicts to do with fraud, contractual issues, and copyright etc. This could see a foreseeable decline in lawyer positions, and a higher need for companies such as Halebury, that offer more than regular firms.

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