Earlier this year, IE Law School, along with Jur and the Lab for New Justice, awarded Dalya Droste first prize in the Smart Contract Competition. She speaks with us about her time in the remote competition, what drives her, and her plans for the future.
At the start of 2020, IE Law School joined forces with Jur and the Lab for New Justice to launch the“Smart Contract Competition,” which gave IE University Law students the chance to acquire skills they will need as lawyers, particularly in a highly developed technological environment.
Students had the unique opportunity to learn from Francisco de Elizalde, Associate Professor of Comparative Private Law and Head of the EU Jean Monnet Module: “Liability of Robots,” where hands-on training with smart contracts and Blockchain technology encouraged them to think about the interaction between law and technology.
For weeks, students worked remotely creating smart legal contracts and learning the ins and outs of JUR’s Online Dispute Resolution system. At the end of the intense competition, Law and International Relations student Dayla Droste was named the winner.
Dalya’s international upbringing in Germany and Wales gave her a multicultural perspective on interpretations of justice, which motivated her to pursue a dual degree.
“I’m passionate about finding the connection between people and culture as well as the interaction between technology and law. To that end, I enjoy leading the Law Society and book and dance clubs, and in my free time I like playing the piano and sailing. These hobbies and activities allow me to both develop and balance my interests. I also have the pleasure of meeting—and the privilege of working with—an interesting mix of people.”
What motivated you to participate in the competition?
To put it simply: the melding of law and technology. Thus far, the legal sector has functioned like heavy machinery: a large, complicated structure that’s slow to adapt and grow. Even though philosophy and social culture were often more developed, it took a long time until we saw those same concepts carried out as legal principles. This competition and the idea behind it illustrated a new age of technological integration and accessible dispute resolution.
Tell us about your experience. What was it like competing remotely?
Everyone on the Jur Team was an expert in their field, and not only did they thoroughly welcome our questions and doubts, but they answered them in full. This made for a collaborative, welcoming environment that really encouraged creativity. Whether in-person or remote, the activities were interactive and demanding, which sparked conversations both in and out of the classroom.
At first we had “hybrid” sessions, but IE University closed after the first one. Our professor, Francisco Elizalde, in collaboration with Jur, navigated the sudden change. Once we were fully remote, communications became smoother. They promoted exchange among students, so the adjustment was surprisingly easy for the most part. Even though I enjoyed learning new technologies when working virtually, the highlight for me was being able to meet the experts face to face.
What was the most difficult part of the competition?
One of the assignments we had was writing a smart legal contract. The objective for our team of four was to be able to translate the contract into computational logic for the platform. Catering to each legal and contractual technicality in the most efficient way possible proved to be a worthy challenge.
One of the tasks I did in preparation with a fellow student, Daniel Collin, was wading through dozens of sales and freelance contracts to identify the correct wording and common practices. In doing so, I happened to find the intellectual property rights of both parties in the average freelance contract. In terms of the legal side of the competition, this was one of the most captivating areas I stumbled upon. So actually, the most challenging task turned out to be the most compelling.
What are the main takeaways of the competition? What skills and knowledge did you acquire regarding smart contracts, Blockchain, Online Dispute Resolution systems (ODR), and other legal or technological aspects?
The biggest takeaway and mental challenge is the disparity between legal and technological compatibility. Therefore, an altered rise of “mob justice” with modern methods to prevent it, as well as understanding new ways of creative compliance.
Seeing the ease and complexities of ODR was interesting. The ease lies in creating a simple mechanism; still, complications arise when maintaining it, catering for horizontal expansion and replacing the judge, who would traditionally interpret the law.
Another compelling aspect was being introduced to how game theory is utilized for ODR and testing its functionality. Particularly when moving towards an international audience, the distinct interpretations of conflicts as well as staying within confines of the law will be fascinating.
Do you think the competition will be valuable in your future career? Are you interested in legal technology?
Even the simplest tasks are increasingly subject to automation, so being able to see the work behind it makes me appreciate it in a different way. In addition to creativity and problem-solving skills, future generations will also need an inclination towards technology and its underlying code if they hope to work in the legal sector.
What are you hoping to gain during your internship at Jur? When do you start?
I hope my internship with Jur will be as immersive and informative as the hybrid experience during the competition! I’m looking forward to diving deeper into the technicalities of sustaining a multilayered Dispute Resolution System, as well as discovering more about smart contracts and how interactions happen on the platform.
I’ve been in touch with the Jur team about my upcoming role and I hope to start soon.