UCL Faculty of Laws


UCL Legal Hackers hosts inaugural panel event

22 March 2019

The UCL student chapter of the global Legal Hackers network held a panel discussion on smart contracts and their potential impact.

UCL Laws legal hackers host event

On Wednesday 20th of March 2019, UCL Legal Hackers (the UCL student chapter of the global Legal Hackers network) held their inaugural panel event. Students had the opportunity to learn about the legal issues surrounding smart contracts and their possible impact on the legal field from leading women in their respective fields.

The panel was chaired by the UCL Laws’ Dr Anna Donovan, who provided an introduction to the concept of smart contracts, and discussed the legal challenges they raise. She also talked briefly about her work with the BSI, which is developing a publicly available specification for smart legal contracts. Dr Donovan highlighted some interesting questions about the regulation, interpretation and certainty of such contracts.

On the panel was Gabrielle Patrick - CEO of Knabu, a digital financial institution that uses distributed ledger technology to provide blockchain companies with banking services - discussed risk allocation and liability when using smart contracts and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) in general.

Also speaking at the event was Amy Kennedy from Gibson Dunn, who offered an interesting perspective on how the progress with smart contracts and blockchain technology is closely tied to the client demand. She explained that firms need to keep up with new technologies in order to survive in the competitive environment, both internally and externally. Sophie Davies, a trainee at the firm, spoke about the technology training trainees receive and how the increased automatisation allows the lawyers to focus on the substantive legal work.

Lauren Holland then wrapped up the panel discussion with her insights as a senior paralegal at tlamParalegals, which has elected to proactively invest in innovative technologies in advance of the client demand. She pointed out that the smaller firms can have more leeway than large multinational firms to be creative and focus on R&D.

The presentations were followed by a lively and open debate with the audience, after which the attendees had the opportunity to network with the speakers over drinks and canapés.

Disclaimer: All comments were made by the speakers in their personal capacity and only reflect their personal views.

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