April 2, 2018
In an article in Canadian Lawyer, Jim Middlemiss – a regular blogger about the legal profession – describes the increasing popularity of blockchain technology and how “Canadian law firms are tripping over themselves to be identified with the growing blockchain technology.” He questions whether it’s a “passing fad” or an emerging practice area that will continue to thrive, and consults a number of lawyers, including Blair Wiley, a partner in the Corporate Group in Osler’s Toronto office who leads the firm’s cross-disciplinary team advising on issues related to blockchain and crypto-currencies, particularly with respect to regulatory matters and capital-raising.
Blair explains that the technology “allows multiple parties to exchange value and record information” in a secure ledger that “no one owns or controls” and predicts that it “will change the way that businesses interact.” However, he says that “describing yourself as a blockchain lawyer is like describing yourself as an internet lawyer.” Rather, practising in this area requires knowledge about a broad range of legal topics, from intellectual property and privacy issues, to contracts and financing questions.
And the best is yet to come, he suggests. “Some of the more interesting and profound applications of blockchain haven’t been thought through yet,” he explains, referring to the potential that blockchain technology has to disrupt controlled social networks like Facebook and Google as proponents try to return control over the use and storage of personal information to individuals.
“Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen,” he says.
For more insight into this emerging topic, read Jim Middlemiss’ article “Hail, hail the blockchain kings!” in the April 2, 2018 edition of Canadian Lawyer.