The cryptocurrency industry is stepping up its efforts to attract more lawyers as it faces increasing regulatory pressures but wants to be accepted and become part of the core finances.

Industry participants said that exchanges and companies are poaching lawyers from both law firms and other crypto companies, recruiting them internally to help navigate the evolutionary regulatory landscape while helping to reduce legal costs. Law firms, which sometimes lose their partners because of their own positions, are also stepping up their cryptocurrencies to preserve this valuable experience.

The increase in demand for lawyers also marks a turning point for the crypt, whose first supporters often expressed skepticism about regulation. The industry is growing rapidly in hopes of attracting more core investment opportunities, and many hold positions that want clarity of regulation.

Although the SEC has not announced any serious action against major cryptocurrencies, the commission has threatened to sue companies offering crypto-lending. Dion Rabuen of the WSJ explains why this part of the crypto market has caused such a strong reaction. Photo: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

“U [the crypto] The consensus is that you need to hurt someone in the house, “said John Wolf Constant, senior consultant at Whistler Partners for technology-focused legal recruitment.” Especially since investors will demand it, you need someone to help accompany the process and make sure everything is fastened from the beginning ”.

Competition is also increasing wages in the crypto space at a faster pace than in the larger domestic legal market, especially in top-level positions, Mr Constant said. Total annual packages, including tokens and capital, could be seven-digit at the very top of the market, he added.

Marco Santori, Chief Legal Officer of Kraken, wrote on Twitter in February that the cryptocurrency exchange in San Francisco is looking to hire 30 lawyers in the next three months. He added that he would like to hire 60 people, “but honestly, I don’t know how to do it.”

“Kraken Legal has been fully fulfilling its hiring goals since my comments in February,” Mr Santori said in an email last week. “We attract the best lawyers from both traditional financial and white-collar companies. The brain drain is real, and we can’t be happier about it. “

Jorge Sand, Chief Legal Officer of the HBAR Foundation.


Jorge Sand

Lawyer Jorge Peso recently joined the crypto-nonprofit HBAR Foundation, which grants project grants, as Chief Legal Adviser after approximately 10 months as General Counsel and Chief Control Officer at Tacen Cryptocurrency Exchange. Prior to Tacen, he worked for Crowell & Moring LLP.

“The market is hot,” Mr. Sand said, adding that he received four job offers before choosing HBAR, primarily because of his commitment to sustainability, and he wasn’t even looking for a new job. “Everyone is looking for talent,” he said, adding that for HBAR, even the simple grants it provides require assistance, given the nuances of cryptocurrency and regulatory oversight in the industry.

According to Mr. Constant, a former lawyer, Whistler Partners said that about 10% to 15% of all recent employment was in the crypto or financial technology sector, with firms hiring both legal and legal. firms. transition to the field of recruitment. He said the firm has worked on 6-10 legal vacancies in blockchain or fintechnology over the past year at any given time.

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Mr Constant said there is a lot of competition for all legal talents in different sectors where candidates for internal roles can get multiple offers. But “as far as cryptospace is concerned, it’s more pronounced,” he said, adding that there is a huge demand for those who have special knowledge in crypto and previous experience in cryptocurrency law firms or who have created their own groups focused on on the crypt. .

As with most other vacancies, firms operating in the crypto sector prefer to hire someone with relevant direct experience, but most look forward to training new legal staff when they learn about each firm’s specific projects.

Gregory Lisa, who recently partnered with law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., joined the decentralized finance-oriented company Element Finance as the first chief legal counsel in December. Mr. Lisa, who previously worked as a regulator at the Financial Crimes Network, said his new position at the 25-person startup, which creates an open source protocol for fixed- and variable-yield tokens, allows him to focus on growing one company compared to the client portfolio as an external consultant. His responsibilities now include liaising with regulators and law enforcement, as well as managing domestic legal issues.

Katie Yoon, Chief Legal Officer of MPCH for Cryptotechnology.


Lucas Hofel

“You really have a chance to write a screenplay and interact with companies at an early stage,” Mr Lisa said, adding that he also remained as a special adviser to Hogan Lovels to help with the transition.

Katie Yoon joined the crypto technology company MPCH in late March as the Chief Legal Officer less than a year later as the General Counsel of the cryptocurrency exchange INX Ltd. She said she does not intend to relocate work, but is interested in helping build the blockchain infrastructure could more easily maintain and include additional blockchain assets, which is currently not possible. So far, her day-to-day work includes managing internal corporate issues such as legal entity structuring and intellectual property issues, as well as facilitating meetings with potential investors and clients.

The increasingly competitive job market also requires more lawyers who are “very commercial,” Ms. Yun said, because crypto companies want to hire lawyers at an early stage to discuss with technical teams what issues their products should solve. “There has been a shift from lawyers who were seen as‘ avoiding us from trouble ’to becoming important members of the management team,” she said.

Daniel Forrester, partner of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe and leader of technotechnological practice.


Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Law firms, some of which are already struggling with talent shortages, are also stepping up their crypto services, sometimes trying to acquire a whole team from other firms.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP is committed to creating a “complete offering” of services for blockchain firms, from helping to form legal entities to advising on regulatory issues, according to Daniel Frester, firm partner and leader in its technology practices. The law firm, which has roots in the traditional technology sector, currently has about 20 partners conducting its work in the crypto field, and it seeks to attract current regulators and candidates or teams from other law firms or domestic positions, he said.

Faced with increasing competition for legal talent, Mr Forrester said Orik continued to focus on retaining staff, including at the legal level. “There are more positions than people,” he said of the legal industry as a whole. “The key to long-term success is conservation.

Write Mengqi Sun at

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