Blockchain at Gowling WLG


[Music plays] I remember lecturing in this space on blockchain technology about a year or two ago and really when I asked the question, “Who had ever heard of blockchain technology?” not even one hand would go up. To explain blockchain, I think you have to think about it first off as…it’s a software platform. It’s built upon technology which already existed. If you think about it in the sense of, we had the internet develop over the last ten to fifteen years, we’re now seeing blockchain come out as a means of sharing value between parties. So it’s kind of like the internet of value. So with respect to the issues surrounding blockchain technology or the obstacles that it may face, I would say that one of the big ones is the legal uncertainty. What is a cryptocurrency? Is it a security? Is it a property? Is it a commodity? Is it something else? A currency? Is it all of the above? These are all issues in the first instance that many of us in the legal profession and clients frankly are grappling with. At Gowling WLG we’ve actually developed quite a sophisticated offering here at the firm on the legal side. We have a crypto capital markets team that is a specialist team, we have a crypto patent team, we have a crypto tax team. We’re really one of the first firms to have developed a dedicated professional offering. We found the team at Gowling extremely competent in their ability to number one, interact with regulators and number two, to be abreast of the developments in the industry. I’m very impressed with the way Gowling has stepped up and into the space and become, I think leaders in Canada and elsewhere where we’ve been working on international projects, providing guidance and providing certainty. There was very little onboarding time from a client perspective in us having to onboard our legal team and actually educate them in the blockchain space. They already knew about the technology and what the key regulatory highlights were and so that was refreshing from a blockchain entrepreneur who is constantly walking into offices and generally having to be the educator versus the educated. In the coming years I think that we’ll see a lot more regulatory guidance, we’ll see statutory reform, we’ll see very novel applications in every single industry that one can imagine. And it’s really a really exciting time here in the blockchain space and in Canada.

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