This article was originally published by the American Crypto Association.
From token registration to KYC AML, regulatory compliance is increasingly essential to crypto projects across the world. Having the best legal counsel on your team can mean the difference between success and failure for any crypto project.
As many projects have found out the hard way over in the last two years, if you fail to follow the letter of the law, millions of dollars in raised funds can turn into millions of dollars in penalties pretty much overnight.
As you consider the best counsel for your project, here are the best lawyers in the crypto space today. The ranking is based on each lawyer’s experience in crypto, the financial services industry, and related regulatory activity.
1. Paul Grewal
Current Position: Chief Legal Officer, Coinbase
Education: University of Chicago Law School
Notable Experience: US Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California; Partner, Howrey LLP
As chief legal officer of the most prominent crypto exchange in the US, Paul Grewal has a critical role to play in the acceptance of crypto by US lawmakers. The former US Magistrate Judge left the bench to be the Deputy General Counsel of Facebook before joining Coinbase.
Current Position: General Counsel, Libra Association
Education: Teachers College of Columbia University, New York University
Notable Experience: Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen);
Director, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) US Dept of Treasury
Facebook’s Libra project brought the topic of digital currencies to the forefront of political conversation in recent months and has faced fierce opposition from US regulators. But now, former Director of FinCEN, Robert Werner, has joined forces to help push the project forward.
3. Stu Alderoty
Current Position: General Counsel, Ripple
Education: Rutgers Law School – Newark
Notable Experience: General Counsel, HSBC North America; General Counsel, CIT Bank
With over 30 years of legal experience in financial services and regulatory affairs, Stu Alderoty is now bringing that knowledge to crypto as the GC for Ripple.
Current Position: Chief Legal Officer, Kraken Digital Assets Exchange
Education: University of Notre Dame
Notable Experience: Partner, Cooley LLP; President and CLO, Blockchain.com
In 2018, Marco Santori left his position as partner the top law firms for Technology Law in the country to become the president and chief legal officer of Blockchain.com. Today he is the chief legal officer of Kraken Digital Asset Exchange.
5. Lewis Cohen
Current Position: Partner, DLx Law LLP
Education: Cardozo School of Law
Notable Experience: Partner, Hogan Lovells; Partner, Clifford Chance
DLx is one of the first law firms specifically dedicated to blockchain and crypto projects. Lewis Cohen as partner of DLx is a leading voice and figure in the industry.
Current Position: Senior Counsel, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP
Education: Vanderbilt University Law School
Notable Experience: Chairman, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)
Former CFTC Chairman, Giancarlo has now moved to private practice at one of the US’s top corporate law firms. As Co-Founder of the Digital Dollar Foundation, he is showing to have a genuine commitment to the industry.
Current Position: Chief Legal Officer, ShapeShift.io
Education: University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Notable Experience: Partner, Goodwin; Partner, Hogan Lovells
Veronica McGregor is helping the decentralized exchange, ShapeShift to overhaul its KYC practices and help the idea of decentralized financial institutions to become more palatable to regulators.
Current Position: General Counsel, Protocol Labs
Education: Harvard Law School
Notable Experience: General Counsel, Virgin Hyperloop One; Principal, Ammori Group
For years, Marvin Ammori has been a leading legal force in pushing forward policy to protect the freedom of the internet. Currently Ammori serves as the General Counsel for Protocol Labs in San Francisco.
9. Dax Hansen
Current Position: Partner, Perkins Coie LLP
Education: Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School
Notable Experience: Represented Andreessen Horowitz in $25 million series B investment in Coinbase
Dax Hansen is the Firmwide Chair of Blockchain Technology & Digital Currency at the prestigious Perkins Coie.
10. David Labhart
Current Position: Head of Compliance & Co-General Counsel, Tron
Education: Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Notable Experience: Senior Director, Compliance, S&P Global Ratings; Supervisory Attorney Advisor, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
David Labhart has worked on both sides in cases with the SEC, first as an associate at WilmerHale where he worked on SEC enforcement actions, and then with the SEC itself as an Attorney Adviser. Labhart is now the Head of Compliance for Tron.
11. Dean Steinbeck
Education: University of California, Berkeley – School of Law
Notable Experience: COO, Horizen Labs; General Counsel, Tiger Connect; Associate, Latham & Watkins
Dean Steinbeck co-founded Horizen Labs, a blockchain development company where he currently serves as COO and General Counsel. Dean also serves as General Counsel for Horizen (formerly ZenCash), the first permissionless, decentralized and privacy-enabled sidechain protocol.
12. Andrew Albertson
Current Position: Partner, Fenwick & West LLP
Education: University of Washington School of Law
Notable Experience: Associate, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Andrew Albertson is the Industry Co-Lead for Blockchain at Fenwick & West and has worked with numerous prominent projects including Binance, Poloniex, and Kraken.
13. Daniel C. McCabe
Current Position: Co-Founder & General Counsel, Flexa
Education: Illinois Tech, Chicago Kent College of Law
Notable Experience: Partner, Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C.; Managing Partner, McCabeMiller LLC
Daniel McCabe is the Co-Founder and General Counsel of Flexa, the digital payments network. He joined Flexa after leaving his position as Partner at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, where he was focused on business and commercial litigation matters.
14. Luka Müller
Education: London School of Economics and Political Science; Universität Basel
Notable Experience: Co-Founder, Sygnum, Co-Founder, KYC Spider
Luka Muller is the Founding Partner of MME, a firm dedicated to legal, tax, and compliance issues for technology firms. Simultaneously he is also the Co-founder of the Sygnum Digital Asset Bank in Switzerland and daura, a platform to tokenize Swiss shares.
15. H. Joshua Rivera
Current Position: General Counsel, Blockchain Capital LLC
Education: Georgetown University Law Center
Notable Experience: Associate, Cooley LLP; Associate, Shearman & Sterling LLP
H. Joshua Rivera is the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of Blockchain Capital. His main expertise is in security tokens. Rivera led the company to upgrade its BCAP token to enhance compliance with regulatory trading requirements. He was previously part of Cooley’s Blockchain Group.
Current Position: Senior Counsel, Head of Blockchain & Digital Assets, Linklaters
Education: Temple University
Notable Experience: Blockchain + Smart Contracts | Founding Chair & Co-Chair, Morrison & Foerster LLP; Chair of the Legal Working Group, Wall Street Blockchain Alliance
Joshua Ashley Klayman founded and led Morrison Foerster’s Blockchain + Smart Contracts Group and is the Chair of the prominent Wall Street Blockchain Alliance Legal Working Group. She currently services as Senior Counsel and Head of Blockchain & Digital Assets at Linklaters.
17. Jonathan Mayers
Current Position: General Counsel, BlockFi
Education: University of Cape Town
Notable Experience: Co-Founder, Cape Springs Capital Partners, LLC; Counsel, Renaissance Technologies LLC
With over 16 years of legal experience working with financial services, including Renaissance Technologies, Barclay’s and Deutsche Bank, Jonathan Mayers is now the General Counsel of cryptocurrency lending platform, BlockFi.
18. Joseph Hall
Current Position: Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Education: Columbia Law School
Notable Experience: Managing Executive for Policy, US Securities and Exchange Commission; Corporate Counsel, Reuters America
Joseph Hall began his career at Davis Polk over 30 years ago. Between 2003-2005, he was the Managing Executive for Policy at the SEC. Today he is back to private practice, where he advises blockchain and cryptoasset companies on a variety of issues from securities law compliance to corporate governance.
19. Preston Byrne
Current Position: Partner, Anderson Kill
Education: University of Connecticut School of Law
Notable Experience: COO & General Counsel, Co-Founder, Monax Industries; Associate, Norton Rose Fulbright
Preston Byrne advises startup tech companies as a partner at Anderson Kill. The former securitization and derivatives lawyer also co-founded Monax Industries, a company known for building the first permissioned blockchain in 2014.
Current Position: General Counsel, Gemini Trust Company, LLC
Education: Harvard Law School
Notable Experience: General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Rent the Runway;
Associate General Counsel and Assistant Secretary, Square
Sydney Brie Schaub’s career trajectory is a clear path to the top. After graduating from Harvard Law School, she has worked her way up as General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in one major company after the next to her current position as the GC for Gemini.
21. Jake Chervinsky
Current Position: General Counsel, Compound Finance
Education: The George Washington University Law School
Notable Experience: Associate, Kobre & Kim
Jake Chervinsky serves as general counsel at Compound Labs, a interest rate protocol that enables developers to build financial platforms. He came to Compound from boutique law firm Kobre & Kim, which specializes in fraud and misconduct.
22. Aaron Wright
Current Position: Co-Founder, Openlaw
Education: Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Notable Experience: Chair, Legal Advisory Working Group, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance
Associate, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP
Aaron Wright has extensive experience with Open Source technology, after he sold a company to Wikia (Wikipedia’s for-profit sister project) and then came on as Wikia’s General Counsel and VP of Product and Business Development. He currently is the Co-Founder of Open Law, a commercial operating system for blockchain technology.
23. Jesse Soslow
Current Position: Head of Legal & Operations, Blockstack PBC
Education: University of Pennsylvania Law School
Notable Experience: Sr. Director of Operations, Everwise; Associate, Technology Transactions, Morrison & Foerster LLP
Though Jesse Soslow is a younger lawyer on the scene, he led the first token offering to get approval from the SEC for a Reg A+ offering. He currently still serves as Head of Legal & Operations at Blockstack.
24. Josh Lawler
Current Position: Partner, Zuber Lawler
Education: Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Notable Experience: Transactional Associate, Skadden Arps; Associate, Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro, LLP
Josh Lawler is a Partner at Zuber Lawler and head of the firm’s Emerging Technologies Group. His main focus is on blockchain and he counsels clients on regulatory and securities matters.
25. Gordon Einstein
Current Position: Founding Partner, CryptoLaw Partners
Education: USC Gould School of Law
Notable Experience: Chief Legal Officer, Distributed Lab
Gordon Einstein has been serving the crypto space since 2014. He founded CryptoLaw Partners in 2017 and has worked to develop the cloud-based law firm technology platform, AdaptiveSky.