On July 25, 2017, ConsenSys introduced the OpenLaw blockchain-based protocol that was developed to help lawyers create and execute legal agreements.
The OpenLaw protocol is designed to integrate executable distributed code contracts (EDCCs) with digitally signed legal agreements. According to the announcement, the legal agreement business constitutes a $437 billion market. However, it’s a market fraught with inefficiencies, be they in the signatory process, through engaging associates to verify larger agreements, or archaic storage systems that may be susceptible to hacking. Changing these agreements can be deeply complex, requiring formal amendments, renegotiation, and reliable methods of communication between parties.
There is an answer to the complicated and time-consuming realities of legal agreements. According to the announcement, OpenLaw will allow professionals to "automatically create and manage the execution of legal documents, and if desired, embed Ethereum-based smart contracts into legal agreements."
OpenLaw aims to make it easy to prepare legal agreements by making use of legal templates capable of being manipulated by use of a "Legal Markup" language. As described, the language "enables anyone to wrap logic and other contextual information around traditional legal prose." This eliminates tedious steps which can save professionals, organizations, and other involved parties time and capital alike.
One of two demos displays the capability of the Legal Markup language to collapse the four possible variations of a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), a document commonly utilized in financing deals, into a single legal template. A simple mouse click allows a professional to flip between the four SAFE versions.
In a second demo, payroll intermediaries are completely taken out of the equation in an ensuing payroll agreement wherein the employer is capable of leveraging the Ethereum blockchain to pay their employee in real time, per minute, in Ether.
ConsenSys calls OpenLaw "the glue for the emerging blockchain-based stack." OpenLaw creates a smooth, coherent means "to structure and govern transactions" involving digital assets such as Ether.
An example of an EDCC used by OpenLaw can be seen below.
Future developments for OpenLaw can be followed by signing up to the mailing list, or by reaching out directly to the team.