While the legal industry has traditionally been slow to embrace disruptive technology, a recently launched program at Osgoode Professional Development, part of Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, has the ambitious goal of creating a new generation of blockchain-savvy lawyers and executives.
“There’s this hunger to understand and implement new use cases.”
– Amy ter Haar, director, Osgoode Professional Development
Now in its second year, the Osgoode Certificate in Blockchains, Smart Contracts and the Law offers a crash course in practical and experiential learning for executives and lawyers who don’t have a technical background. The goal is twofold: help participants learn how to incorporate blockchain technology into their practice to be more efficient, and integrate blockchain cases into business strategy, including how to build a smart legal agreement (aka ‘smart contract’) with Peter Hunn, founder Clause.io.
The program is run by directors Amy ter Haar, founder of Global Blockchain Consultants, Creative Destruction Lab associate, board member of Blockchain Canada, and Globalive advisor; and Aaron Grinhaus of Grinhaus Law Firm, a tax lawyer and author of ‘A Practical Guide to Smart Contracts & Blockchain Law’, Canada’s first legal textbook.
“The real objective is to provide the solid grounding, legal structure, and fundamental principles that are essential foundations in this rapidly evolving area,” said ter Haar. “There’s this hunger to understand and implement new use cases.”
The program is run in two modules, which include three online primers and the textbook ‘A Practical Guide to Smart Contracts & Blockchain Law’. Participants can expect to learn the basics of blockchain use cases, including its importance in intellectual property, smart contracts, and the tax structure of digital assets. They will also learn how to navigate the more complex legal issues surrounding blockchain, such as blockchain litigation, the challenges of collecting blockchain evidence and seizing cryptocurrency, and trends in blockchain litigation.
How blockchain can be used as a method of equity financing will also be explored – a hot topic in an industry still in flux. It is one that both the tech and legal industries are watching closely. Evan Thomas, part of the team representing 3iQ and The Bitcoin Fund is on faculty. 3iQ is the recent high-profile decision in which the Ontario Securities Commission just allowed 3iQ, a Canadian investment manager, to offer the world’s first publicly traded bitcoin investment fund. The result distinguishes decisions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which refused to approve the listing of bitcoin exchange-traded funds.
“Last year, people from all over the world attended,” ter Haar said of the unique demand for the program. “Our faculty is superb, in combination with a deep blockchain community, that all help to create a really unique market and hunger for expertise.”
The curriculum will also explore issues of money laundering, terrorist financing, and how economic sanctions affect blockchain.
Participants can also engage with both crypto and legal innovation leaders, who are part of the program and often pioneering regulation in the industry. Faculty include Michael Casey, chief content officer at CoinDesk; Toufi Saliba, CEO of Toda.Network and former chair of ACM PB CC who co-authored TODA/IP decentralized p2p internet protocol; Charlene Cieslik, chief anti-money laundering officer and chief privacy officer of Coinsquare, one of Canada’s most high-profile crypto exchanges; Greg Wolfond, founder of SecureKey, which is currently working with Canada’s big five banks to create digital verification based on blockchain; Addison Cameron-Huff, Ethereum’s first lawyer and co-founder of Toronto Blockchain Week; Ethan Buchman, technical director, Interchain Foundation, and chief at CoinCulture Cryptoconsulting, and many others
“[This program] gives this unparalleled access to engage with legal and technical thought leaders to focus on real-world applications and use cases involving blockchains, crypto, and smart contracts,” said ter Haar. “You get a real solid, foundational understanding of the interactions also between stakeholders, resources, and incentives.”
The Osgoode Certificate in Blockchains, Smart Contracts and the Law program begins on November 28. Learn more about the program here.
Image courtesy York University