Leveneur & Heudebert on Blockchain, Disintermediation, and the Future of the Legal Profession

Claire Leveneur (Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II)) and Paola Heudebert have posted “Blockchain, Disintermediation and the Future of Legal Professions” (Cardozo International & Comparative Law Review, 2020, vol. 4 (1) 275-319) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Will the 2020s herald the death warrant of the legal professions? If we listen to blockchain technology’s most devout advocates, the answer is a resounding yes. Blockchain is often proclaimed as the ultimate tool for allowing unrestrained exchanges between contracting parties with no preexisting relationships, and thus suppressing the need for intermediaries. In other words, blockchain could be a “trust machine,” which could open up the possibility of conducting transactions in full confidence, without the risk of non-performance or misguidance.

However, it is utopian idealism to assume that blockchain technology could enable pure and total disintermediation. All trusted third parties cannot disappear in one fell swoop – especially legal professions.

This Article problematizes blockchain’s apparent objective of disintermediation and argues that, in reality, blockchain leads to a form of reintermediation. Of course, the role of the legal professions in the face of the advance blockchain technology is inextricable to the role of the law in blockchain. While advocates have detailed the diminishing role of law and regulation in the application of blockchain technology, we adopt a comparison of the French and the American jurisdiction’s to blockchain technology, to demonstrate that, in fact, the law cannot be extricated from blockchain’s advance.

This Article explores a new angle on blockchain’s place in the legal professions and offers new perspectives for lawyers to anticipate a future defined by “known unknowns,” and the “unknown unknowns” of blockchain technology.