Blockchain: What's in it for Lawyers?
Tawnya Plumb, Associate Law Librarian George W. Hopper Law Library
Why Should Wyoming Lawyers Care About Blockchain?
Lawyers are only 3.5% likely to have their jobs automated according the "Will Robots Take My Job?" website. This great news is compiled in part from information from a 2013 report titled "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation?"by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne. In 2017, however, articles entitled "Smart Contracts: The Blockchain Technology That Will Replace Lawyers" and "Jury, online Wants to Replace Lawyers with Blockchain Technology" drew responses from legal bloggers, attorneys, and academics debating whether or not blockchain will be a game changer in the legal field. The debate will continue in 2018, but I offer a basic introduction to block-chain, a current status of relevant laws, and some practical applications of blockchain for Wyoming lawyers interested in the conversation.
Simply put, blockchain is a secured and shared digital ledger, also called a distributed ledger, for storing and tracking transactions. Its security lies in its decentralization, as data is stored by all peers using the client. This peer-to-peer network makes blockchain more difficult to hack than a centralized database. Blockchains may be designed to be public or private. Bitcoin digital cryptocurrency is the most well-known product built on a public blockchain; business and financial consortia may opt for a private blockchain instead.
At a more technical level, a user adds information to a block which is timestamped and validated. The distributed ledger connects long lists of blocks to form a blockchain which is saved by "nodes" (computers connected to the network).
Status of Laws
Internationally and abroad, the popularity of Bitcoin cryptocurrencies prompted statutes and regulations primarily intending to curb money laundering and tax evasion. These laws extend to newer virtual currencies such as Ether as well. As currency, these applications will...