Blockchain technology holds promise for enabling so-called “smart contracts” that greatly streamline the process for creating, reviewing and approving contracts.  Combined with document automation technology, it could revolutionize contracts, creating tremendous efficiencies and opening new product possibilities in the financial world and beyond.

Thomson Reuters and OpenLaw set out to demonstrate how these technologies could be combined, and created a cutting-edge proof of concept for creating smart documents powered by blockchain technology with document automation. 

The initial proof of concept shows how Contract Express can be used to create a contract from a Practical Law standard document and add smart contract provisions to be executed on the Ethereum blockchain, using the OpenLaw protocol. The efficiency and security of such smart contracts would facilitate real-time payments and swift settlements of financial transactions, enabling transformation of financial and commercial industries, as one example.

This proof of concept demonstrates how users could incorporate blockchain-enabled smart contract provisions within existing tools that they’re familiar with, in this case, Contract Express.  Users could insert smart contract provisions into any legal template they create within Contract Express, including the many automated standard documents available from Practical Law. It demonstrated that the process can be seamless and intuitive to the extent that lawyers will not need specialized technical or blockchain expertise to create smart contracts. This represents a jumping-off point for further efforts to make blockchain technology and smart contracts more accessible to the mainstream legal industry.

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