Recently TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington used blockchain to close on a real estate purchase in the Ukraine. The blockchain software creates smart contracts. It also stores, securely, those and other kinds of documents. Workers involved in record-keeping jobs should be worried.
However, the bigger question is: Will blockchain eliminate the need for organizations, ranging from the law firm to those large corporations?
There's no ambiguity that in the very near future, thanks to artificial intelligence and automation, fewer associates and partners will be required. Acquisitions by LexisNexis are making that possible.
But, a bit down the line, will the structure we traditionally know as "The Firm" be obsolete? Will the lawyers left still standing after multiple applications of technology be functioning without The Firm?
In MITSloan Management Review, Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott take a deep analytical look at blockchain-and its implications. Here you can read the article. The two are the authors of "Blockchain Revolution."
Essentially, blockchain is a secure platform on which participants can exchange, store, and retrieve value without intermediaries.
They, for example, can transfer funds to their relative in Houston, Texas, without the oversight or infrastructure of any financial institution. Eliminated are the usual transaction costs, as well as the red tape.
A useful briefing on the fundamentals of blockchain is the book "Blockchain for Dummies" by Tiana Laurence. Here you can order it from Amazon.
But, the bigger picture is how this decentralized platform allows individuals to organize themselves in their own way, in a closed system. Once the "rules" are made, they would require the consent of the entire group to be modified. The technology creates a chain which blocks what we think of as "hacking."
It is possible for lawyers to organize themselves via blockchain in ways very different from that of the traditional law firm.
In their article, the authors observe:
"We believe that blockchain will transform how businesses are organized and managed ... [In some lines of business]Networks based on blockchain will be better suited for creating products and services and for delivering value to stakeholders."
Obviously, old-fashioned kinds of power, status, and expected income will collapse. The equity partners who aren't able to participate in the network could wind up professionally homeless.
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