On March 30th, Houman B. Shadab, a founder of the Accord Project and professor of law at New York Law School, will lead a workshop at the University of Michigan Law School about blockchains, smart contracts, and the Accord Project. Professor Shadab is a prolific and influential expert at the intersection of law, business, and technology. His research focuses on financial technology, smart contracts, hedge funds, derivatives, commercial transactions, and blockchains. The workshop is a supplement to the “Legal Technology & Innovation” course taught at Michigan Law School by Professor Dan Linna. Students and members of the public may attend if they RSVP through the Detroit Legal Innovation Meetup.

Blockchain has recently emerged as a disruptive technology that may revolutionize the way that attorneys will advise their clients. Applications for blockchain are currently being developed for key industries including finance, insurance, energy, healthcare and legal. A blockchain is a decentralized, trustless and continuously growing ledger that records and keeps track of every transaction across a peer-to-peer network of participants.

Recently, PWC made the news not only for launching a law firm in Washington D.C., but also for the release of its blockchain platform. The platform will help with managing business disputes and auditing of current implementations of blockchain applications by various corporations like Walmart, which is introducing a blockchain

application for improving food tracking. Blockchain appeals to corporate clients because the technology promises to provide security by design. Blockchain security comes from leveraging cryptographic protocols and distributed consensus algorithms, which provide anonymity, auditability and transaction immutability.

These same characteristics have also made blockchain appealing to lawyers and corporate clients for its potential use in “smart contracts”. The term “smart contracts” was originally coined by Nick Szabo, a cryptographer, who first saw the potential of 

automating contracts on blockchains. Szabo described contracts as a set of promises agreed to by a meeting of the minds, precisely as taught in my first-year contracts class by Professor Barnhizer. Szabo envisioned an automated contract that could be triggered by performance of either party to the agreement. The parties are not required to have a prior business relationship, and this structure allows for automated remedies if either side does not perform according to the terms of the agreement.

The original contract would be translated into code by blockchain trained attorneys representing either side. The code would contain a series of if-then statements that would carry out the completion of the contract once a condition is met. In summary, the term “smart contracts” refers to computer transaction protocols that execute the terms of a contract automatically based on a set of conditions. The use of smart contracts by corporate clients raises a number legal issues that will require advising by future and current attorneys.

The Accord project is a working group, made up of lawyers and organizations, that is focused on developing best practices and legal standards for smart contracts. The Accord project is led by the internet of things-enabled contract startup Clause, which was co-founded by Mr. Shadab. Mr. Shadab believes that having the Accord Project set standards for smart contracts will increase the chances that smart contracts will be implemented properly.

 

Come learn about blockchain and smart contracts with us.


All Students and Practitioners are Welcome! Please RSVP via the Detroit Legal Innovation Meetup.

 

Location:
University of Michigan Law School
Hutchins Hall Room 116

March 30th’s Agenda:
9-9:05 – Introductions
9:05-9:15 – Introduction to Clause and the Accord Project
9:15-10:00 – Introduction to Blockchain & Bitcoin
10:00-10:30 – Interactive Exercise
10:30-11:00 – Introduction to Smart contracts
11:00-12:30 – Smart legal contracts workshop
12:30-1pm – Roundtable discussion and wrap up
1pm – Closing and Networking

 

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