Bitcoin. Ethereum. Blockchain. It sounds like a foreign language, clouded in mystery.
But with billions of dollars flowing through cryptocurrency systems, and governments and major companies looking to blockchain technology to reform a wide variety of critical record-keeping systems, law students and lawyers need to get up to speed.
Even with great change brewing, only a smattering of law professors have published research in the area, and even fewer have launched formal classes for law students.
Angela Walch is one of the first law professors who have latched on to the importance of digital currencies and blockchain technology. Starting research in 2012, Walch, who is a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, has made a mark in the cryptocurrency community with research that suggested—despite the decentralized promise of blockchain technology—that actual identifiable people govern the systems, and furthermore, they should owe users a fiduciary duty. Walch’s law school course she started in 2013 was pioneering in teaching students about bitcoin and the blockchain.