Global law firm Taylor Wessing introduced an incentive programme in 2023, enabling its UK lawyers to award, trade and redeem crypto tokens, known as LAW Tokens.
Paul Thorpe, a partner at Taylor Wessing and one of the leads on the initiative, says there are several reasons behind the programme. “We’re a leading legal services firm for blockchain companies so it shows our clients we understand and back the technology,” he explains. “It also helps us to upskill internally: not all of our people have blockchain experience so this programme brings the concept to life.”
All participants in the programme are given a set number of LAW Tokens each month which they can award to other lawyers in recognition of their work. Once in their digital wallet, a lawyer can choose to redeem their tokens, either for a monetary voucher or a charitable donation, or award them to another lawyer. This peer-to-peer element is particularly powerful, says Thorpe. “It makes people feel appreciated and reinforces the sense of collegiality across the firm,” he explains.
Although its experience with blockchain gave Taylor Wessing a head start, there was still plenty of analysis required to ensure compliance before it launched the programme. Key considerations included ensuring that tokens could be tracked for tax purposes and restricting transfers to within the firm to prevent an external secondary market. “The tax analysis required careful thought given that we were putting an innovative new structure in place,” Thorpe says. “As the tokens are tradeable peer-to-peer, it adds a layer of complexity.”
The programme was launched as a trial in July 2023 before being formally rolled out across around 100 of the firm’s lawyers in September. Thorpe is pleased with the feedback. “Initially there was some hesitancy as it’s so different to a conventional reward programme but we ran training programmes and the level of activity is increasing every month,” he says.
Based on the success of the programme so far, he is already considering extending it at the end of the financial year.