Login | December 08, 2019

Conference looks to make Cleveland leader in blockchain tech

Technology for Lawyers

Published: September 28, 2018

Cleveland is vying to become the center of the decentralized blockchain world with a weekend gathering of technology experts called “Blockland.”

Blockland is the brainchild of Cleveland entrepreneur Bernie Moreno and will attract presenters and interested parties from around the world, said Brian Ray, a professor at the Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.

Both Cleveland law schools were invited to participate said Jessica Berg, dean of the Case Western Reserve School of Law.

“I was asked to co-chair the legal group with CSU Law Dean Lee Fisher, as both universities are involved in Blockland, along with Tri-C,” said Berg. “The initiative has brought together multiple businesses and organizations across the greater Cleveland metropolitan area and well-demonstrates the commitment to innovation and revitalization throughout our city. Blockchain provides the focus, but the broader opportunities for Cleveland are tremendous.”

The conference is set for Dec. 1 through Dec. 3 at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, located at 300 Lakeside Ave. Publicity materials from the conference said that it is seeking to “establish Cleveland as a significantly relevant technology center by being a leader in blockchain solutions, with the goal of massively growing employment that benefits the entire Cleveland community.”

Blockchain technology emerged from the murky worlds of cryptocurrency. It is a sort of a database, where each piece of information is separately stored, encrypted and time stamped. It is highly secure and is virtually impossible to hack into or to duplicate.

While forming the base of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology itself as a stand-alone product is being used and looked at by a growing number of well-known enterprises, from banks to law firms.

The Blockland weekend will cover virtually every area within the blockchain world, said Ray.

The multi-faceted conference will include a set of presentations and meetings set around the current and future applications of blockchain database technology to the legal business and system, said Ray.

Ray was given the assignment of representing Cleveland State by Fisher because of his deep interest in the area, both inside and outside of his teaching duties, he said.

Among other accomplishments in the area of legal technology, he co-founded and directs the university’s Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, helped establish the Internet of Things Collaborative, and serves on the state of Ohio’s CyberOhio advisory board.

It was only recently that Ray began to focus on the blockchain, but blockchain technology only recently moved in to public awareness.

Ray “organized a blockchain conference with a legal focus in April,” he said. While he said that he initially looked at the Blockland idea with some skepticism, he is now completely onboard.

Ray is helping to oversee presentations and discussions on the legal side of blockchain in two distinct parts, he said.

“The first is to concentrate on government,” he said. This will include researching and recommending new legislation and updates to existing statutes. Ray’s state connections will be invaluable here.

The second thrust of the law side of the conference will be do the legal work to establish and run a blockchain incubator, of the like of other business incubators, said Ray. He envisions lawyers creating the legal groundwork for the incubator, and then helping the burgeoning businesses with their legal work.

Other areas that the conference will cover include thought leadership, which will come up with a strategy for publicizing Cleveland as a blockchain haven; business applications, which will include creating a Cleveland-based network of companies using blockchain technology; and talent development in both industry and academia.

There will also be discussions of political environment, which will discuss lobbying strategies; entrepreneurial environment, which will go looking for investment capital among other things; and philanthropy, which will go looking for nonprofit money and be sensitive to leaving populations behind in the new technology.

The conference will also talk about finding a place for the incubator; getting the city behind the initiative; and inviting the “next generation” of computer scientists to come to Cleveland and help create a blockchain development community.

The areas covered in the legal side of this conference are just the tip of the iceberg, said Ray.

For instance, the emerging areas of privacy laws like the GDPR and their application to the blockchain will just be a side conversation, even though that may be the burning issue into the future of legal technology.

But it is a great place to start, he said. Maybe northeast Ohio can be a leader in the latest technological wonder of the blockchain.

For more information or to register for the conference, go to https://blocklandcleveland.com/. Blockland Cleveland also has a Facebook page.