Blockchain and distributed ledger technology will disrupt many industries, including legal. While this may take some time, and we are in a very beginning of this transformation, the change is imminent. All professionals can stay on top of this trend and lead innovation in their fields. Below are five approaches that separate innovative blockchain and distributed ledger technology leaders from the rest.
Focus on Applications
Few people could explain in detail and precision exactly how electricity works. However, almost everyone loves the benefits of electricity, such as a lighted room, cold food in the fridge, and a warm house. Our conversations about blockchain and distributed ledger can sound like a deep dive about electrons in electricity. Instead, we should focus on applications. Rather than focusing on abstract conversations of distributed ledgers, let’s focus on what blockchain can do for our specific business or practice. What are the benefits and application? What efficiencies can it create? What problems can it solve for your business?
Use Common Sense
Blockchain is not a magic potion. It will not solve all the problems in your company or your practice. Don’t fall into a trap of “To a man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.” Use common sense. Ask what other solutions are available. What are the pluses and minuses of alternatives? Probably the most important question to ask is: “What can blockchain do for your business that a good distributed database cannot?”
Take Small Risks and Learn by Doing
Find potential use cases. You will learn in the process. No one in the early days of the internet could have seen the near infinite possibilities that seem to exist today. Blockchain is the same. Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that will take time to develop, and you can contribute to this exciting and new field. The pace of improvement in blockchain is ultra-fast. Waiting for others to the take the lead is a dangerous strategy. Take small risks. Find potential use cases in your organization. Design proof of concepts. Yes, you may fail many times, but you will learn in the process.
Manage Expectations of Your Board and Management
Consider conducting small, low risks experiments to stay in business for many years to come. Don’t reinvent the wheel using blockchain and smart contracts. Keep things simple. Analyze your business model. Reflect on challenges that you and your customers face. You know your business and customers better than anybody. You are in the best position to solve long-standing problems in your industry based on your past experiences, knowledge, and observations. Find the right places to improve efficiency or address a hard problem using blockchain technology. The advantages of blockchain in certain areas are worth exploring. Then manage expectations of your board and executives. You are conducting small, low risk experiments to understand the full potential of blockchain as it applies to your business. You are not doing it to create immediate ROI, products, or services. You are doing it so your business does not become obsolete.
Engage Real Experts
Engage people who have real experience building blockchain applications in the field, and who are on the cutting edge of this new technology. They will be the most helpful. There are relatively few, if any, experts in this complex and young field. We are all learning together.
Who has heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? Be very careful with people who sound overconfident. If you are working with experts, it is a good idea to ask how long they have been in the field. What qualifications do they have? What have they built? Who have they worked with? Engage people who have real experience building blockchain applications on the cutting edge. Let’s learn by working to redesign legal practice and business together.
Olga V. Mack is an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor at Berkeley Law, and entrepreneur. Olga founded the Women Serve on Boards movement that advocates for women to serve on corporate boards of Fortune 500 companies. Olga also co-founded SunLaw to prepare women in-house attorneys become general counsel and legal leaders and WISE to help women law firm partners become rainmakers. She embraces the current disruption to the legal profession. Olga loves this change and is dedicated to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and inclusive than before. You can email Olga at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @olgavmack.