David Roon – OpenLaw

David Roon from OpenLaw gave a talk about smart legally binding agreements. OpenLaw is a project which aims to all users to model legal agreements through their markup language, this decreases the cost of creating, securing, and generating binding contracts. Moreover, they aim to create, store, and execute legal agreements that interact with blockchain-based smart contracts. There project is powered by the Ethereum and IPFS protocols. The project is driven by the desire to form agreements that can respond to real world events and update based on new circumstances. You can catch a glimpse of OpenLaw in action here. The platform includes a repository of agreements and deals as well as an editor which one can use to build contract templates – making it easier for lawyers to generate agreements. The project incorporates a GitHub like approach with versioning as the ability to fork projects.


David: Hi everyone, welcome to my presentation on OpenLaw.

The idea of OpenLaw is to create what we call smart legal agreements. We use a blockchain to execute the smart contract but also to gather all the crypto evidence that we can, because, as a lot of you guys have said throughout the day, blockchain is a great place to say the things that we don’t want to be tampered with. The idea is to be horizontal in the legal sense of the word, so it means that you should be able to write any simple agreement but also put together a very complex deal, with complex workflow, where in the process of executing a smart contract certain preconditions have to apply.


We are ConsenSys spoke, a blend of academia and the private sector, because the co-founder is a law professor at Cardozo University, and myself, a humble software engineer, and we are most active in Switzerland.


The idea is to try to redesign how people do legal transactions. We try to be very lawyer-focused, we’ve had a lot of discussions with lawyers and we’ve tried to bring them in. We’ve tried to help them have a collaborative platform where they have templates that are very easy to use and reuse, but then also be able to easily validate the contracts they’re going to send by having some computational reputation, things like making sure that if we employ someone, he won’t get more than a certain amount per year because that’s how compliance works in the company. It should be also very easy to review for computers but also for lawyers so that everybody can easily understand what will happen in the contract, and easy to collaborate, in an open manner or within a law firm.


To do that we have certain layers, and the first one is we have some sort of legal markup where we can inject inputs and parameters but also have some conditional logic, to inject specific clauses if needed. We also tried to create some workflow definition, to define which template has to be used in which cases, we will show that afterwards in the demo, and once that is done we have to send it somewhere. At the moment are working on trying to have a decentralised storage system that is a bit more private, so that if people steal the hash they cannot download it anywhere. Then on top of that we have all the execution and reasoning, like being able to inject an e-signature once someone signed it when we look at the contract, but also which smart contracts should we call and with which parameters at what time, and it should also be useable for any other non-blockchain system, we should just need to be able to get evidence that a call has been made and that everything went through. Then on top of that of course we want other people to be able to build applications and solutions. We’ve just seen a very good real estate project, and this is exactly the kind of thing that would be very interesting to see on this platform.


We start with a kind of centralised approach and try to loosen up and decentralise it as much as we can, open it up with an open source tool, and hopefully ourselves and other people starting to build applications so that people can see how to do that and collaborate on the legal side and the technical side.


The first application we’ve made is actually the website openlaw.io, where you can edit and work on templates on legal agreements and deals with a simple IDE and UI so we can fill them out very easily, see the result, lawyers can check in with you and send it to everyone, and kind of a GitHub approach where people can collaborate on templates, with the idea of having a marketplace where the more you collaborate, the more you’ll gain from a template being used by people, and hopefully also other people using the API of this platform to do good stuff.

I’ll now show, with the words of Aaron Wright, a demo of a deal.

Open Law – Decentralising the Deal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7edU35m8OI


So, what we’re trying to do is change this approach of having these static documents that we’re sending back and forth, and having this dynamic system. That also means that we are trying to be some kind of common ground and platform for the legal world and the technical world and the startup world so that they can work together and innovate together.


We’re trying to streamline the process so we can decrease legal costs, because some of the pain points can be avoided. We reduce the risk of errors, since there are extra checks at the moment that are done manually. Therefore we increase the access to legal services, because it is cheaper then more people can buy it.


We also try to keep the platform as modular and generic as possible, to be able to meet all future needs.


If you are interested in this project, we have a Slack where we are building this community, and we are more than happy to have discussions with all of you here.


Thank you very much for your attention – I hope you enjoyed it! [applause]