Damages in Digital Dollars: A New Way for Juries to Compensate Plaintiffs

The future of digital currencies rests more in the hands of a jury of 12 citizens than a global chain—a blockchain—of the anonymous yet apostolic.

The apostles of technology have more to gain from how a lawyer appeals to a jury than all the appeals to bankers, brokers, and big-time investors. A bold claim, but not an improbable one; given the threat of inflation and a decline in the value of the dollar; given so many booms and busts in which prices soar and incomes stagnate, until people take to the streets to protest and use elections to protest the powers that be.

When a jury can choose between digital currencies and fiat money, when a lawyer asks a jury to choose the former over the latter, when this happens—and I have every reason to believe it will happen—this milestone will have both financial and precedential value.

Any such award will be a precedent in its own right, inspiring lawyers to accept retainers and payments in full via digital currencies. Any such award, according to John K. Zaid, a Houston-based attorney, will reverberate throughout the legal profession.

I agree with that assessment, based on my own experiences as a law student, in addition to my studies of technology and economics. Put a different way, I see a near-future of economic promise and multiple forms of financial payment for services rendered. I see a near-future in which financial technology is not just a choice between payment mechanisms—the same money delivered various ways—but a choice between digital currencies and fiat money.

The yen will be less for yen, pun intended, and more toward Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency.

If retailers already accept such payments, if consumers expect most businesses to adopt such payments, or face a loss in business from consumers who will shop elsewhere, lawyers should do likewise: They should let current and potential clients know that digital currencies are a legitimate means of payment.

Such is my opinion regarding this matter.

It may very well take a jury to decide this matter by calculating damages—personal and punitive—in the course of deliberating a verdict.

My verdict is clear: Lawyers need to adapt to an economy, whose technical nature is neither trivial nor an issue of mere technicalities. The technology of trade and finance is complex, and often more secure than the operations of any Too Big to Fail bank.

We must announce this verdict to lawyers at home and abroad. We must do so for the advancement of justice and the achievement of a just settlement for the injured, the aggrieved, and the dispossessed. We must do so, too, to set an example—to be an example—people will emulate.

By their own example, lawyers can further how we compensate the innocent and calculate the terms of just compensation.

Let us be an example of light and truth.

Let us create a new monument to precedent.

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