Matheson has the Smarts!

8th December 2017

Posted In: The Topic

Matheson was delighted to host Ireland’s first ever legal hackathon recently, in partnership with Deloitte, IBM and the Dublin City University Ryan Academy.  Participants, which included students, representatives from the tech and financial services sectors as well as Matheson employees, gathered in Matheson HQ for the two day event focusing on blockchain and the new business opportunities that is brings.  The initiative is part of Matheson’s wider Smart programme, launched in 2016, which is focused on looking for innovative ideas to improve client service, efficiencies and collaboration incorporating the latest themes such as fintech, AI and blockchain.

Michael Jackson, Managing Partner at Matheson, said

“We were delighted to host Ireland’s first ever legal hackathon, another piece in the innovation jigsaw here at Matheson. Innovation is at the core of Matheson, embedded in the firm and our innovative approach is something that we take great pride in.   We were delighted to see that work recognised in 2017, being ranked Ireland’s Most Innovative Law Firm in this year’s Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Awards.  The firm has also been ranked in the FT’s Top 20 Most Innovative Law Firms in Europe. Embracing innovation ensures.  Recognising the need to change and embrace new technologies ensures we stay ahead of the curve and as a result provide the best possible level of service to our clients.”

Blockchain technology facilitates transactions and stores information using a secure, distributed ledger system. Its most famous application, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, allows users to send money directly to another user’s ‘wallet’ saving time and money. Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise every industry that transacts goods and services, including law.

At the hackathon, attendees pitched blockchain ideas for further development, including a distributed energy grid, a qualification registry, and a smart contract system for housing rental. Teams voted on the best ideas and spent the hackathon fleshing them out and working on their implementation.  Ideas were judged on their creativity, innovation and feasibility. The winning team was UniBlock who pitched a way to use blockchain to legitimise qualifications, by developing a secure and immutable validation mechanism for professional qualifications for universities and workplaces.

Speakers included Deloitte EMEA blockchain lab chief architect Antonio Senatore who explained the workings of blockchain, its features and the advantages it offers over existing technologies and systems while David Fisher, founder and CEO of Integra Ledger, provided insights and gave participants a hands-on, live experience of a blockchain specifically developed for the event.  The schedule also included Niall Dennehy, COO and co-founder of Aid:Tech, who gave a demonstration of Aid:Tech’s blockchain, which was recently used to successfully deliver aid to Syrian refugees in a transparent, secure way.

Speaking after the event, Rebecca Ryan Matheson partner and leader of Smart, the firm’s innovation initiative said –

“Following two very busy but rewarding days of ideas building and innovative discussions, our participants are walking away with valuable insights into the world of blockchain and the opportunities it brings for both the financial services and legal services sectors.  Shaping the future of business and revolutionising the way we communicate, collaborate and create, blockchain is all about how we organise trust in our systems and in our society.”

“As lawyers and advisors to top clients across a broad spectrum of sectors and industries, we are collaborating and learning from experts across different fields of knowledge to ensure Matheson is always at the forefront of change. Every sector of the economy may be radically impacted by innovations such as blockchain technology, and initiatives like SMART at Matheson and the hackathon facilitate timely dialogue on what the future may hold.”

“By hosting the first legal hackathon, Matheson is approaching the inevitable changes that technologies like blockchain will bring by ensuring that we’re in the vanguard of change, leading the discussion, and seeking to steer each innovation in a way that will maximise the benefits for our clients.”

Pictured (l-r) at the event are David Fisher, Integra Ledger; Rebecca Ryan, Matheson; Lory Kehoe, Deloitte and Barry O’Connor, Matheson.