In a hugely significant hire for the blockchain community, K&L Gates’ former chief information officer Neeraj Rajpal has taken on the new role of chief innovation officer at blockchain technology infrastructure provider Integra Ledger.
Rajpal, who started on 7 January, will be tasked with identifying opportunities to work with law firms, corporate legal teams and software companies, developing proofs of concepts to help showcase Integra’s blockchain platform, which is unique in being dedicated to the legal sector. Integra is focused on the business of law and underpins the blockchain integrations at both NetDocuments and Thomson Reuters Contract Express.
Rajpal will also be working with the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium, which was founded by Integra’s founder and CEO David Fisher and has now reached 175 member-organisations from 25 countries. Members include law firms Baker McKenzie, White & Case and Orrick as well as corporate giants such as IBM, AIG and Liberty Mutual and software vendors such as Thomson Reuters and Wolters Kluwer. Around a dozen law schools are also members of the GLBC.
Rajpal, who will be based in New York and has also held the CIO role at firms including Bryan Cave and Morrison & Foerster, told Legal IT Insider: “What I’m trying to do is create a proof of concept with a couple of firms to showcase our technology at no cost. In a couple of days, we can showcase something that you can use day in and day out, using technology that is very simple to use. Law firms have traditionally not been very open to change but their clients are now pushing them to change and the clients we’ve spoken to are very interested in Integra’s technology.
While blockchain was until recently regarded by many in the market as overhyped and still of little relevance to the operation of law, the integrations with NetDocument and ContractExpress are changing that.
A short feature coming out in the next Orange Rag, out on 23 January, will include an interview with Fisher, who tells us: “I predict that the legal industry will see the most ubiquitous use of blockchain in its day-to-day business of any industry because we’re not focused on moving value around but on confirming the integrity of data and we’re already well down that path with Contract Express.”
While Integra is still building out its infrastructure, which Fisher compares to creating a telephone network (“If you only have one telephone, it’s not useful”) he forecasts that the platform will reach critical mass in as little as six months. “By the end of this year all the major applications in law will be integrated and that means the majority of lawyers by the end of the year will be using blockchain and won’t even know it,” he told Legal IT Insider.