Flip Flops, Offence, and NFTs: How a Law Firm’s NFT Launch Sparked Outrage
28 October 2021
This week we announced a legal industry first: A series of three NFTs representing legal advice. A seemingly innocuous trio of crypto-art tokens, this launch was initially met with excitement, interest, and trepidation. But as the days waged on and the dust began to settle, rumblings of discontent began to surface.
Evolving beyond their original intent, these tokens began to represent a heinous embrace of blockchain for anonymous lurkers in internet forums, with some citing the move as a “gimmick” on behalf of a “no-name high street firm.” Despite the NFTs being created by the very people who practice blockchain law, the move seemed to indicate to many a step too far.
This wave of discontent begs the question: What is it about these digital tokens that has taken on a life of its own? What do these rumblings of discontent say about the legal industry? And does Stephenson Law, as one commenter purported, have their own line of flip flops?
To explain, it’s helpful to take it from the beginning.
Making the most of the multifaceted capacities of blockchain technology, the tokens – due to be launched on November 8th – afford the buyer the right to redeem one hour of legal advice on subjects ranging across financial services regulation, blockchain and NFTs. Additionally, one of the NFTs affords a buyer with one-on-one access to industry renowned Alice Stephenson, the founder of Stephenson Law and a familiar with the moral outrage that comes with change. With a starting price of a cryptocurrency equivalent of £250 and £300, the crypto trio represents the firm’s belief in a tech it advises on.
Sounds fairly harmless, right?
As news began to spread about this “no-name highstreet firm” taking NFTs into their own hands, outrage began to soar. A law firm, taking law into their own hands? Surely not?
As the NFT launch began to spread across the web, blockchain experts including “Anon”, “Yawn”, and “aaaaaaa” began to weigh in.
Taking note of our mandated casual work attire, “Anon” dove right into the heart of the matter,
“It’s a marketing gimmick to show how super edgy cool they are”, Anon advised, “Flips flops mandatory at all face to face meetings.” Bewildered at how Anon had become aware of our super secret soon to launch flip flops line, we breathed a sigh of relief that at least they understood already how super edgy cool we were.
The debate continued, with infamous legal industry critic, “Yawn,” taking the pulpit, “No-name highstreet firm announces pointless gimmick to get attention it would otherwise never receive.” Not wishing to nit pick, we opted to leave “Yawn” a polite “like,” hoping one day they would understand the irony of giving us the very attention we would “otherwise never receive.”
Finally, emerging from the distance but with a crystal clear message, one particular commentator simply stated,
“This has gone too far.”
Given the NFT trio has been created by qualified, tried and tested, and industry trusted legal blockchain experts, we could only presume that this commentator’s outrage was in reference to our flip flop line – which unfortunately, we will not be backing down from.
Joking aside – moral outrage of this kind walks hand in hand with change. It’s a natural part of progression and something that has been partnered with innovation since, well, forever. From the creation of the internet, to something as simple as the telegraph, history has always been marked by a fear of change.
So much so, that when telephones were introduced in the late 1800s, the New York Times took no time in damning the advancement in communication. A contributor for the magazine insisted that the tech – now owned by 89.9% of the world’s population – was destined to bring on the downfall of man,
“We shall soon be nothing but transparent heaps of jelly to each other,” they ominously wrote.
Despite this concern, today we’re neither transparent, nor heaps of jelly, and the same can be said of the dawn of NFTs. It’s easy to think that blockchain and it’s associated technologies is a flash in the pan fad. Our newsfeeds, newspapers, and social media accounts have been saturated with blockchain based announcements this year: from NFTs reaping in the millions, to virtual worlds being built on the technology.
It can feel firstly a little unbelievable, and secondly like a boom waiting to bust.
However, blockchain did not burst into existence in 2021. In fact, the technology was first introduced in 2008 and the advancements we see today have been the quiet behind the scenes progress of technologists and lawyers for the past 13 years.
We’re keenly aware that the adoption of tech can take time. If one considers the internet, while it began to emerge in the 1960s, it didn’t launch to the public domain until 1993. If history tells us anything, it’s that change takes time… but it also takes a willingness to push forward.
As a legal services firm that provides blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFT advice, it’s important to put our money where our mouth is. While the institution that is the legal industry can be known for it’s lagging approach to tech, for a firm that works closely with technology clients it’s just not enough to advise. Which is why we’ve decided to embrace NFTs, with the knowledge that like all great changes, critique will be part and parcel of it.
For us, this launch represents three key things.
First, our fanaticism for blockchain, spearheaded by Head of Blockchain Will Foulkes and Head of FinReg Gareth Malna.
To start, our crypto crusader Will lives and breathes this industry. When he’s not advising on blockchain, he’s talking about it, and when he’s not talking about it, he’s thinking about it. Suffice to say, the guy loves blockchain. When it comes to Gareth, his unique ability to breathe life into financial regulation (you heard that right) is echoed in his willingness to embrace the NFT industry. As a financial regulation solicitor who advises institutions on how to take payments, for example in relation to NFTs, Gareth’s involvement in this project is telling of the expertise and trust we have in this technology.
Secondly, this launch is a move of solidarity with the clients who have trusted us to guide them into the exciting and emerging field of NFTs. As the saying goes, if you want to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. So, we decided to get walking.
Third, and finally, this project is the continuation of our long history with innovation. As tech lawyers, blockchain experts, entrepreneurship enthusiasts, and digital explorers, we’ve seen the power of new-fangled tech from both angles. We’ve seen the capacity of the law to guide advancements into the mainstream, and we’ve watched our clients enter the limelight and take their industry by storm.
That is why we’re willing to play, to experiment, and to innovate within our industry. Why?
Because someone has to make the first move.
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