What could go wrong?
Taylor Wessing lawyers can now show their gratitude to each other by giving out cryptocurrency.
Just a few months after a string of high profile crashes and collapses convinced many potential investors that crypto should be approached with caution if at all, lawyers in the firm’s corporate, IP and financial services teams are being provided with a digital wallet containing cryptocurrency issued by the firm.
“LAW Tokens” are intended to be bestowed by Taylor Wessing lawyers on their colleagues when they “demonstrate an outstanding contribution to the firm's culture and its responsible business objectives”.
A number of organisations have introduced systems which encourage staff to use an official channel to signal their appreciation of a colleague’s help or hard work, so that it's visible to management and can inform reviews and bonus discussions.
However, although Taylor Wessing’s crypto experiment was designed partly to recognise lawyers' "contributions to the firm’s friendly and positive culture”, it's also intended to give them “first-hand experience of interacting with distributed ledger technology and its unique characteristics", said the firm. "In short they will be understanding their clients’ technology and using it themselves.”
Bowling bumpers are being kept on for the lawyers, however, as LAW Tokens can’t be traded on the open crypto market or exchanged for other currencies, shielding staff from the thieves, scams, and volatility endemic in real world crypto.
Instead LAWTs are only transferrable “between whitelisted individuals" which "prevents the creation of a secondary market”, and can only be redeemed for non-cash benefits or to make charitable donations.
It also has the handy side effect of exempting the firm from registration with the FCA under the Money Laundering Regulations.
Various practice groups collaborated on the blockchain initiative under the guidance of Gerard Frith, the firm's “Entrepreneur-in-Residence” and an “innovation leader and AI expert who loves to turn a gnarly problem into a beautiful solution”.
There's no respite in sight for TW lawyers. Corporate M&A partner Paul Thorpe said the firm had “exciting plans in relation to how we further evolve this technology and potentially link it to some of our other tech projects. Watch this space!” Given Taylor Wessing's patronage of portraiture, surely it's an NFT drop.