Canadian Lawyer - sample

May 2018

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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w w w . C A N A D I A N L a w y e r m a g . c o m M A Y 2 0 1 8 3 very few years, the legal profession is told that some new breakthrough technology is going to change the profession forever. "Trust me," the futur- ists say, "this will change everything." In reality, technological change happens far slower than many futurists predict. While tech adoption takes time, though, it can have a much more profound effect than predicted in the long term. The internet, email, cellphones and social media have all changed the legal profession — but not overnight. Lawyers resisted email for many years, but now they are glued to their phones reading correspondence. Lawyers weren't the first to set up Twitter accounts, but now social media can be a key place to look for digital evidence in a dispute. A more recent technological innovation is artificial intelligence or AI. We wrote about artificial intelligence last year in our April issue cover story, and the message we gave was that it would change the profession — but not how you thought. It wasn't about robot lawyers but about efficiency. In other words, it wouldn't replace lawyers, just make them faster (although perhaps less numerous). And now blockchain is the next supposed revolution. Just like all the other tech- nologies before it, it is likely to change things, but exactly how we are not yet sure. At its essence, blockchain is a ledger system. While the technology is very compli- cated, the basic idea is not. It is a way to validate information reliably and securely with- out giving anyone the ability to edit or delete. It is a technical solution to a very human question: How do we create trust? And when the question is asked that way, it does seem like a technology that could replace lawyers. As Amy ter Haar put it in our cover story (p. 26), "With blockchain, the trust train is moving to a new place." As all lawyers know, trust is a fundamental part of the legal profession's value propo- sition. You can, hopefully, trust that your lawyer will work in your best interests and keep everything confidential. And your lawyer has the power to control your trust account. So, unlike AI, social media or email, blockchain seems like a basic existential threat. Should lawyers be scared? As with any technology, there are drawbacks and hype. The drawbacks are numer- ous, including the massive energy required to run a blockchain system and lack of privacy for a system that is essentially unalterable. The hype is no doubt clouding many people's judgment, too — including those who are betting on the value of Bitcoin, which uses blockchain technology. But the benefits — for people who can't afford a lawyer at least — are substantial. As Aaron Grinhaus put it in our cover story, blockchain may render many legal services — including secured and commercial transactions, real estate registration and dispute resolution — "obsolete." I am not going to try to predict how blockchain is going to change the profession. As our cover story says, blockchain is still in its infancy — fragmented and lacking common standards or standardized processes. But I will say this — if you don't understand how it works, it may be worth your time to do some research. It could change everything. Trust me. E D I T O R ' S D E S K @canlawmag Director/Group Publisher: Karen Lorimer Managing Editor: Tim Wilbur Acting Associate Editor: Aidan Macnab Copy Editor: Patricia Cancilla Art Director: Bill Hunter Production Co-ordinator: Catherine Giles Contributors: Scott Neilson, Jim Middlemiss, Aidan Macnab, Jean Sorensen, donalee Moulton, Mark Cardwell, Geoff Ellwand, Marg. Bruineman, Jennifer Brown, Elizabeth Raymer, Alex Robinson Canadian Lawyer is published 10 times a year by Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted without written permission. The opinions expressed in articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. Information presented is compiled from sources believed to be accurate, however, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. Canadian Lawyer disclaims any warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or currency of the contents of this publication and disclaims all liability in respect of the results of any action taken or not taken in reliance upon information in this publication. Sales and Business Development Sales Manager: Paul Burton E-mail: Tel: 416-649-9928 Consultant, Strategy and Business Development: Ivan Ivanovitch E-mail: Tel: 416-887-4300 Business Development Consultant: Kimberlee Pascoe E-mail: Tel: 416-996-1739 Account Executive: Steffanie Munroe E-mail: Tel: 416-315-5879 Canadian Lawyer Thomson Reuters Canada Ltd. One Corporate Plaza, 2075 Kennedy Rd., Toronto, ON. M1T 3V4 Tel: (416) 298-5141 Fax: (416) 649-7870 E-mail: Web: Linkedin: Twitter: @canlawmag Facebook: Publications Mail Agreement #40766500 ISSN 0703-2129 © 2018 HST Registration #R121349799 RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESS TO: CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT One Corporate Plaza 2075 Kennedy RD., Toronto, ON. M1T 3V4 RETOURNER TOUTE CORRESPONDANCE NE POUVANT ÊTRE LIVRÉE AU CANADA AU SERVICE DES PUBLICATIONS One Corporate Plaza, 2075 Kennedy Rd., Toronto, ON. M1T 3V4 Circulation/Address Changes/ Subscriptions Keith Fulford Tel: (416) 649-9585 Fax: (416) 649-7870 E-mail: Subscription rates: Canada1 year print and digital $102 plus HST, 1 year digital only $99. Outside Canada 1 year print & digital $99 USD, 1 year digital only $99. For all circulation inquiries and address changes send a copy of your mailing label or labels along with your request in writing to Canadian Lawyer, One Corporate Plaza, 2075 Kennedy Rd., Toronto, ON. M1T 3V4 Can you trust blockchain? By Tim Wilbur E

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