Earlier this year, IE Law School, Jur and the Lab for New Justice, launched the “Smart Contract Competition”, a unique opportunity to instill in IE Law students the skills that lawyers will require to succeed in a highly-developed technological environment.
Led by Francisco de Elizalde, Associate Professor of Comparative Private Law and Head of the EU Jean Monnet Module: “Liability of Robots”, students had the opportunity to enhance a normative reflection on how law and technology should interact.
After weeks of intense remote work, where students were able to work hands-on in the creation of smart legal contracts and experience the entire flow of JUR’s online dispute resolution system, Dayla Droste, student of the Dual Degree in Law and International Relations, was named winner.
Dayla’s international upbringing in Germany and Wales, has contributed to her understanding of multiple perspectives on culture and interpretation of justice – which is why she decided to study Law and International Relations.
“My passions lie in finding connections between peoples and cultures as well as the synergies of law and technology. To balance and develop my passions I lead the Law Society, Book and Dance Clubs and additionally, enjoy playing the piano and sailing. These activities expose me to an interesting blend of people that I have the pleasure to meet and the privilege work with”.
What inspired you to participate in this competition?
The fusion of law and technology. So far, the legal sector has been like heavy machinery: a big apparatus that struggles to adapt to change. While philosophy and social culture were often two steps ahead in development, it took a long time until the same concepts were implemented as legal principles. The competition and idea behind it represented a new era of technological integration, as well as accessible dispute resolution.
Tell us about the experience? How was the experience of doing it remotely?
Each member of the Jur Team we met was specialized in the field they introduced. Therefore, almost all questions or doubts that arose were answered to the fullest and welcomed wholeheartedly. This led to an overall friendly atmosphere that sparked creativity. The activities given were both challenging and interactive whether remote or in-person, consequently generating new conversations in- and outside of the classroom.
IE closed after the first “hybrid” session, so the sudden start was mitigated by our professor Francisco Elizalde, who also organized the collaboration with Jur. Once the competition was completely remote, interactions became smoother. Exchange between students was fostered thus making the overall adjustment relatively easy. Although we enjoyed the introduction of new technologies when working remotely, the best part for me was meeting the experts in person.
What was the most challenging aspect of the competition?
One of the tasks given included writing a smart legal contract. The goal was to be able to translate this contract into computational logic for the platform; each legal and contractual technicality had to be catered for in the most efficient way possible. This proved to be a worthy team challenge for our team of four.
As a preparatory task done together with a fellow peer, Daniel Collin, I sifted through dozens of freelance and sales contracts to find the correct wording and common practices. As we faced this endeavor, I stumbled upon the intellectual property rights of both parties in the average freelance contract. This, on the legal side of the competition, was one of the most interesting areas I discovered. Thus, the most challenging task became the most intriguing.
What are the key takeaways of the competition? What did skills and knowledge did you learn of Smart contracts, Blockchain, Online Dispute Resolutions, and other legal and tech aspects?
The biggest intellectual challenge and a key takeaway lay in the gaps between legal and technological compatibility. Hence, an altered emergence of “mob justice” with modern ways to prevent it, as well as understanding new methods of creative compliance.
It was fascinating to see the ease and complications of Online Dispute Resolution. The ease lies in creating a simple mechanism. Yet, complications arise when maintaining it, catering for horizontal expansion and replacing the judge, who would customarily interpret the law.
An additional aspect was the introduction to the way in which game theory was utilized for Online Dispute Resolution and to try out whether it worked. Especially when working towards an international audience, the difference in interpretation of conflicts as well as staying within realms of the law will be captivating.
How do you think the experience will add value to your future career? Are you interested in legal technology?
Simple tasks are being automatized, and thus seeing the mechanisms and work behind it gives rise to a different level of appreciation. Future generations striving to work in the legal sector will, additionally to creativity and problem-solving skills, require an affinity for technology and its underlying code.
What do you expect of your internship at Jur? When do you start?
Based on the transitory hybrid experience from the competition, I hope the internship with Jur will continue to be immersive and instructive! I am excited to delve further into the technicalities of maintaining a multi-layered Dispute Resolution System, learning more about smart contracts and the way in which interactions on this platform take place.
The Jur team and I have been in contact about my role to be and I hope to start in the coming weeks.