Thomson Reuters and OpenLaw are exploring the future of legal documents with a cutting-edge proof of concept that combines smart documents powered by blockchain technology with document automation. 

Contract Express from Thomson Reuters is a leading solution for efficiently producing the most up-to-date, consistent and accurate legal documents. OpenLaw developed the first decentralized peer-to-peer protocol for creating legal agreements. Combining the two unlocks new capabilities to create legal documents with vastly more powerful and unique features, along with superior efficiency and security. 

The initial proof of concept shows how Contract Express can be used to create a contract from a Practical Law standard document and turn specific provisions into smart contracts to be executed on the Ethereum blockchain, using the OpenLaw protocol. The efficiency and security of such smart contracts would facilitate real-time payments and swift settlements of financial transactions, enabling transformation of financial and commercial industries, as one example. 

“This proof of concept demonstrates how users could incorporate blockchain-enabled smart contract provisions into any legal template they create within Contract Express, including the many automated standard documents available from Practical Law,” said Andy Wishart, Global Head of Drafting Tools & Productivity Solutions at Thomson Reuters. “And the process is seamless and intuitive to the extent that lawyers will not need specialized technical or blockchain expertise to create smart contracts. This represents a jumping-off point for further efforts to make blockchain technology and smart contracts more accessible to the mainstream legal industry.”

“By bringing OpenLaw and Contract Express together in this way, we have demonstrated that smart contract technology can be integrated into the automation tools that lawyers are using today,” said Aaron Wright, co-founder of OpenLaw. “This opens up the possibility for lawyers to capitalize on the future benefits of blockchain-enabled legal services, and this proof of concept represents a first step in exploring how blockchain-based smart contracts can be applied to a full commercial transaction.”

This video explains how this smart contract proof-of-concept works.