Blockchain for Lawyers 101, which held on Friday 5 July 2018 in Lagos, has come and gone but participants won’t forget the first-of-its-kind training program in a hurry. It was 8 hours of learning, unlearning, and relearning in an engaging and interactive learning environment. Participants say they can’t wait for Blockchain for Lawyers 201!
Blockchain for Lawyers 101 was a comprehensive one-day training program on Blockchain technology from a legal perspective. The program kicked off with a 1995 video about the Internet by one of the resource persons, Linus Kingdom, Managing Editor of eBlockbuzz, who introduced participants to Blockchain technology in an interactive session which succeeded in whetting the appetite of the participants about the Blockchain technology. In the video, as far back as 1995, some big names were heard claiming that the Internet didn’t make sense to them and they would never use it. Interestingly, those who welcomed the Internet with open arms in the video are some of the biggest names in the global digital economy today, including Bill Gates. Mr Kingdom warns that lawyers must not make the same mistake as others did when Internet technology didn’t make sense to many.
That video took the participants right into the lecture with Senator Ihenyen, Lead Partner at Infusion Lawyers, who delivered what participants described as “a well-researched lecture”. Mr Ihenyen’s 197-page slides presentation, which was structured into four parts, was equally well-received, making for an enlightening and engaging training program.
Part one of the course was an introduction to Blockchain. Here, Mr Ihenyen identified why Blockchain matters to lawyers and discussed Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin Whitepaper and how it is related to Blockchain technology. Characteristics of Blockchain and its types were also discussed. Part one of the lecture came to a close after Mr Ihenyen discussed the common confusion between Blockchain and Bitcoin, showed participants the challenges Blockchain faces, and adoption of blockchain technology around the world. As expected, there were questions and answers, making for an interactive session.
Having laid the foundation for what turned out to be a robust discussion which got participants glued to their seats, Mr Ihenyen proceeded to Part Two of the lecture. Under Part Two, the three broad topics Tokenization & Classification of Tokens; Crowdsales and Virtual Assets, Structure, Risks, and Best Practices; and Cryptocurrency Exchanges were discussed in detail. Participants got to learn what tokenization means, its classifications, and the five dimensions for classifying them. They also got to learn the differences between a token and a coin. On crowdsales or crowdfunding, participants were introduced to four different types of crowdsales, namely Initial Coin Offering (ICO), Initial Token Offering (IT0), Initial Exchange Offering (IEO), and Securities Token Offering (STO) with real-life examples of each type and the legal consequences of each from a regulatory compliance point of view. With the examples given—from Etherium’s successful ICO to DAO’s lost of over $50million to hacking—Mr Ihenyen succeeded in capturing the imagination of the participants. In an open and interactive environment, there were questions in the room and there were answers—with some participants eager to volunteer answers—much to the delight of the organizers, preferring an interactive class. Mr Ihenyen was happy to provide answers where he believed there were grey areas. This brought the morning session to an end.
At launch time, participants left the training hall for the launch room, having up to half an hour to refill, network, and refresh. This was followed by a short photo session. Smiling to the camera, everyone was having a good time on the Blockchain side of life.
The afternoon session kicked off with an introduction to cryptocurrency exchanges, their types, and their roles in the cryptocurrency space. Mr Ihenyen identified centralized and decentralized exchanges as the two types of exchanges, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each one, both from a data-breach and cybersecurity point of view and regulatory compliance point of view.
Enter Part 3, which focused on Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Regulation and Consumer Protection. Under this part, participants learnt about the use of Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Combating Financing in Terrorism (CFT) as checks against consumer, financial, and security risks in the often anonymous and risky world of cryptocurrencies. Still under Part 3 which focused on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Regulation across Major Jurisdictions, Mr Ihenyen took participants on an enlightening and expository roller-coaster ride to United States, China, Switzerland, Malta, Estonia, South Africa, and back to Nigeria. The participants were happy for this ride, fuelling the conversation with intelligent questions, commentaries, and observations, particularly regarding cryptocurrency taxation. Beyond cryptocurrency taxation, one obvious fact here was that to Nigeria and most African countries, cryptocurrency remains a puzzle, thus resulting in no regulatory answers yet beyond the usual public warnings.
Finally, the 8-hour course came to an end after a discussion of smart contracts and how lawyers can leverage Blockchain for professional growth and opportunities. Mr Ihenyen explained what smart contracts were and went on to discuss the types, benefits, applications, and limitations of smart contracts. On whether smart contracts are legally enforceable, Mr Ihenyen pointed out that the answer depends on the jurisdiction, law, and nature of transaction in question. And on the even more topical issue of whether smart contracts will make lawyers irrelevant, the answer was a YES and a No and the participants found the reason given compelling. A participant was heard saying that lawyers may in fact need to learn how to write smart contracts, to which Mr Ihenyen with other participants agreed was going to become necessary. On how lawyers can leverage Blockchain for professional growth and opportunities, Mr Ihenyen shared a list of 13 areas participants could start leveraging Blockchain for successful legal careers.
Perhaps there is no better way to wrap up this highlight of Friday’s Blockchain for Lawyers 101 program than to quote the closing words of the resource person, Mr Ihenyen: “Blockchain will help law become smarter and a digital god. Blockchain will increasingly help law become smarter, thus becoming a digital god—invincible and invisible; omnipresent and omniscient—transparently balancing, controlling, and regulating competing interests in contracts, records, and transactions without the law being too much with us.”
The curtain was drawn with a resounding applause from the participants who were delighted to have been a part of the maiden edition of Blockchain for Lawyers 101. It was put together by the African Blockchain Education Tour powered by eBlockbuzz in partnership with Infusion Lawyers. Certificates were presented and closing remarks entertained. A representative of the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), Charles Azih, gave the closing remarks, enjoining participants to embrace the technology and leverage on the acquired knowledge offered through the course.
The next edition of Blockchain for Lawyers 101 comes up 5 October 2019, Abuja FCT.
What Some of the Participants at Blockchain for Lawyers 101, Lagos, are Saying
Mukthar Mustapha, Legal Officer, Access Bank Plc: “Blockchain for Lawyers 101 was an insightful, educative well delivered training. It provided a very good foundation for professionals, especially lawyers, with an interest in blockchain and how it can be utilized by lawyers in providing legal services.”
Barrister MBANDA EPANTY, Senior Associate, D. Moukouri & Partners Law Firm, Cameroon “AMAZING” interactive session with Senator Ihenyen, an icon of Blockchain technology in Nigeria. Participants learned the basics of the technology, smart contracts, crowdfunding (crowdsales) and most especially Tokenization. It is highly recommended to attend the upcoming sessions.”
Emeka Nwadioke, Esq, Lead Partner, Emeka Nwadioke & Co, Lagos: “The programme was very insightful. I am definitely better informed about this emerging area which may yet have a critical impact on economies and may raise serious legal issues in no distant time.”
Olumide Osundolire, Partner, Banwo & Ighodalo, Lagos: “It was quite enlightening and well-researched.”
Faisal Lawal Hassan, Associate, I. G. Waru & Co, Kano: “Blockchain for Lawyers 101 opened my eyes to the technological aspects of law I never knew existed. Indeed I discovered a golden opportunity and will surely take advantage of it.”
Champion Olatunji,CoFounder, Young African Initiative (YAI): “The Blockchain for Lawyers 101 training program was insightful. The trainers, Mr. Senator Ihenyen and Mr. Linus, structured the course outline in a demystified way, making it easy to understand the basic concepts. How do you easily understand an abstract concept like “Blockchain” in 8 hours? This could only be taught by a seasoned lawyer and expert, Senator Ihenyen. Blockchain for Lawyers 101, organized by infusion lawyers, has set the pace. I look forward to the second part.”
Uche Favour, Law Undergraduate, University of Ibadan: “Blockchain for Lawyers 101 was awesome. The speaker, Senator Ihenyen presented such a complex concept in bite sized chunks in such an interesting way in such little time. I must really say a huge kudos to the organizers for this wonderful opportunity and I look forward to more. The future is now!”
Ayooluwa Charity Olaifa, Executive Associate, Alliance Law Firm, Lagos: An intriguing program, eye -opener and of course ,a value -added digital technology. I intend to read more and deepen my knowledge so as to become an expert in this field. A big kudos to the organisers, it was perfectly timed.
Ademola Adeyoju, Associate, Aelex, Lagos: “In terms of impact, Blockchain technology may well be the new internet—and like the internet, the technology may completely change our lives and influence how we interact with our environment. And so, it was a pleasure to have been at Blockchain for Lawyers 101—the facilitator and host, Senator Ihenyen, delivered a wonderful lecture on everything from tokenization and virtual assets to smart contracts and cryptocurrency regulations. Perhaps the juiciest part was getting to know about how lawyers can quickly reposition themselves and reap the rewards of being a front-runner in a growing, profitable, and increasingly advancing field.”
Chinedu Goodness Albert, Bar Student, Nigerian Law School (Lagos Campus): “Blockchain for Lawyers 101 was not just timely, it was absolutely necessary for the 21st century lawyer. There is simply no other opportune time than now to start these conversations about the place of lawyers in this inevitable era of technology”.
Amina Aliyu, Associate, KT Turaki & Co, Kano: “Blockchain for Lawyers 101 training was a great one; educating and one among the few.I commend the efforts of the organizers and look forward to attending more. Thank you.”
Faridah Saliu-Bello, Senior Associate, Banwo & Ighodalo, Lagos: “The course was very thought-provoking and as it’s first in the country; pace setting. Kudos to the team!”
Chuma Akana, Partner, Chester Law LP, Lagos: Blockchain Lawyers 101 was quite insightful and educative. Great job by the organisers and I look forward to 102
Ann Lewis, Commercial Officer, General Oil Limited: “Blockchain for Lawyers 101 left my mind open to a world of limitless possibilities for lawyers in and interested in IT Law. The mind-blowing part for me was that it answered even questions I didn’t know I had. Big cheers to the organizers.”
Charles Azih, CEO, Crystal Connect Ltd: “The resource person Senator Ihenyen is a very smart young man. Everyone who has participated in today’s program must count himself or herself lucky to have had access to such wealth of knowledge and information at this time when 50 years from now many persons will still be trying to find answers to what you have gotten to know today.”
Dan Whisky, Associate, Pistis Partners, Lagos: “A well detailed and researched conference, the kind of quality unrivalled of its kind ….”
Some Photos of the Event