Incorporight – Legal Blockchain Without The Hype

Remember the idea of using the blockchain for legal needs? Well, it’s still with us and legal tech startup Incorporight is based upon it. The difference now: no hype, no bluster, just the technology’s practical application. And maybe that’s how blockchain comes back into the legal sector at scale?

The first thing you’ll notice, or rather not notice, when looking at the website of Incorporight, which helps lawyers and business owners maintain and securely modify company information, is that there is no grand, splashy declaration about blockchain or ‘DLT’, just one very small bit of text half-way down the main page that mentions the subject and another mention at the very bottom.

There is also no ‘coin’ or cryptocurrency associated with the product. There is no ‘paradigm shift’ style screed posted on the site either, stating that all centralised databases must come to an end immediately.

The Canada-based platform simply provides a wide range of company formation, structuring and data recording features, which includes helping you to handle annual filings and manage key company documents. And this relies on DLT.

In short, the tech has become secondary to its function, which is how it should always be. The same goes for AI. If you use genAI because you feel you should use genAI, then you’ve already got off to a false start. Use X technology because it’s the best tool for that need.

CEO and founder, Tyler Benoliel, told Artificial Lawyer that the company uses Hyperledger Fabric, a DLT solution developed by Linux. He is also painfully aware of how things went badly for the blockchain brand.

‘Blockchain got tainted,’ Benoliel noted and mentioned the problem with crypto’s close association with it. In fact, he even prefers to use the term DLT (distributed ledger technology) as we chat to avoid using the B-word too much.

But, aside from the hype and crash that legal blockchain tech experienced, Benoliel sees a basic, clear fact when it comes to distributed ledgers: they are perfect for maintaining a secure record. It doesn’t need to be shouted from the rooftops, but it’s a useful thing when you’re providing a platform to record corporate information.

‘For hundreds of years company accounts were on paper. There were binders with all of the records. At the back of the binder there was a ledger that showed the company’s sale of shares, who owned what, and so on,’ Benoliel said.

But, this approach had many challenges. So, then come digital ledgers, which for some companies may be nothing more than an Excel spread sheet, for others something a bit more sturdy. But, Benoliel stressed, ‘a digital ledger can be hacked’, fraudulent parties can manipulate it and not leave a trace of what they have changed.

‘So, the idea is to have a decentralised ledger where everything is authenticated by the nodes,’ he concluded.

Now, you’re perhaps saying: ‘I’ve heard that bit before.’ And you have. The thing is, from Benoliel’s perspective: why not just use this approach if it works?

Even so, Artificial Lawyer asked again: ‘Sure, but why blockchain? Why not make a website with good security where companies can store data?’

Benoliel replied: ‘Because blockchain is immutable.’ And maybe that is simply the right answer? When shorn of the hype, of the overambitious claims that DLT will change the world tomorrow, what you are left with is a handy way of recording data in a secure way. So, why not use it?

That said, Benoliel is a believer, even if he isn’t an evangelist like so many of the first wave of legal blockchainers. He does believe that eventually the business world will move to decentralised databases, and that ‘Web3 is the future’. However, this will happen not because some techno-libertarians in Berlin or Oregon think it would be cool, but rather because to Benoliel it’s the most sensible thing to do.

And perhaps he is right? Maybe the field of legal DLT will come back to life, not because of a new wave of VC cash or wild promises of radical change, but because it works and it’s practical.

Benoliel also mentioned that they have been given the seal of approval from the local law society in Ontario to offer the service to consumers, while they have also formed a partnership with one of Canada’s leading law firms.

‘We are in this for the long haul,’ he concluded. ‘We are not a blockchain company, we are a legal tech service that just uses the best tech for the task: DLT.’