Gravel & Shea PC

April 2019

New Blockchain-Based Smartphone App Helps Connect South Burlington Community with Local Government

The Gravel & Shea Blockchain team are excited to announce a new blockchain-based pilot project.

Consensus, a Toronto-based company and Gravel & Shea client, has designed a smartphone app to connect the local community to municipal government. The goal is to encourage South Burlington community members to share their thoughts on municipal issues right from their smartphones.

Kevin Dorn, South Burlington City Manager, is enthusiastic about this opportunity to connect the public with policymakers in a real and accessible way. He considers it imperative that community members become more engaged with local government, to make sure they are seen and heard as a part of a transparent and effective democratic process.

Consensus is joining forces with Champlain College to bring the app into reality and into the community. Consensus will tap Champlain College math and science students to assist in the project.  Dorn made the announcement about the pilot project last week, alongside Consensus, Champlain College, the Vermont Attorney General’s office and Gravel & Shea.

Left to right: DLGA Chair John Burton; Champlain College President Don Laackman; Consensus’ Dustin Plett; Kevin Dorn, South Burlington City Manager; Chris Curtis, Attorney General’s office; David J. Thelander, Gravel & Shea.  

The Consensus app marks another positive step in Gravel & Shea’s success in attracting blockchain-focused businesses to the region. The firm has been working to build partnerships to facilitate local blockchain-based initiatives in a range of industries, including real estate, since VT passed landmark blockchain legislation last spring.

Blockchain technology is highly resistant to hacking, which means that it offers an exceptional levels of security and privacy for applications which incorporate public sector data. Blockchain’s ability to simultaneously keep records confidential and streamline citizen communication makes the technology an ideal support tool for civic engagement.

Through the coming months, Gravel & Shea will work with both Consensus and South Burlington to launch the project, with the app expected to be available to local residents via the App Store this summer.

For further information, see our NBC and WCAX coverage.

Gravel & Shea’s Blockchain Technology group specializes in analyzing and resolving legal issues related to blockchain technology.

Gravel & Shea Attorneys Present on Probate and Food Law at VBA Mid-Year Meeting

Three Gravel & Shea attorneys gave presentations last week at the Vermont Bar Association Mid-Year Meeting in Lake Morey.

Shareholder Navah Spero and Associate Livia DeMarchis presented Probate 101. The session, intended to provide a broad overview of the Vermont probate court, was geared toward attorneys new to practicing in Vermont and attorneys who are starting or interested in starting their own probate practice.

“The participants were very engaged and asked good questions,” said Spero. “It’s a smart practice area to be getting into right now as the Baby Boomer generation ages, bringing more and more cases before the probate court.”

Spero is a member of Gravel & Shea’s litigation practice group and specializes in probate litigation. DeMarchis’s practice focuses on tax and estate planning as well as trust and probate administration.

Special Counsel Cassandra LaRae-Perez presented a detailed overview of food and beverage law at the state and federal levels. She also provided the attending attorneys with information on current litigation trends and recent developments in both case law and regulatory regimes, like class actions suits based on similar claims across the country and the changing nature of regulations related to CBD products, particularly dietary supplements.

“It’s a dynamic area of the law consistently challenged by an active plaintiffs’ bar and recent sweeping changes in regulation,” said LaRae-Perez. “Even companies doing their best to do the right thing can find themselves at the business end of a daunting lawsuit, and it’s hard for new companies to navigate all the regulations and myriad agencies involved. But that’s also what makes it interesting.”

LaRae-Perez is the only Vermont attorney with a dedicated food and beverage practice.