At Crypto Law Insider, we’ve already discussed why your project needs a General Counsel. A General Counsel is an in-house lawyer that can manage all of your legal needs.
But what sort of skill set should this lawyer have?
Assuming you’re reading this site because you live, breathe and eat crypto, you need to find a lawyer who can help with legal issues that typically arise in our industry. You need a new breed of lawyer….a crypto lawyer.
But be careful.
While there are many attorneys that advertise themselves as crypto lawyers it may not be easy to find the right one for your business.
The legal field is extremely complex and each lawyer has a different area of expertise. Some lawyers have strong corporate backgrounds. Others are excellent litigators. And within both of those categories, you’ll find hundreds of subspecialties.
If you were to ask what skill set the general counsel of a real estate development company should have, I would tell you that he or she should be generally familiar with the legal issues that arise in the course of developing real estate. This would include buying and selling real property, partnership matters, zoning issues, construction agreements, property liens, lease agreements, and related real property taxation issues.
What’s a Crypto Lawyer?
In short, a crypto lawyer is a licensed attorney that has a general background and understanding of cryptocurrency-related legal issues.
This means he or she will be generally knowledgeable about major issues within the blockchain industry. He or she should be able to intelligently discuss common themes including:
– The legality of ICOs, security tokens, and stable coins;
– Whether your blockchain project is best formed as a for-profit corporation or nonprofit foundation;
– Tax issues that arise from buying and selling cryptocurrency;
– Intellectual property right matters, including those relating to the use of open source copyright;
– KYC/AML matters that arise not just for exchanges and money services businesses, but seemingly all crypto-related businesses;
– Different regulatory regimes in places like the US, Malta, Switzerland, etc.; and
– The hundreds of other matters that regularly arise in the course of running a blockchain-related business.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean that your crypto lawyer will be an expert in all of these matters. He or she will not be. All lawyers have different backgrounds and therefore a good crypto lawyer will know enough about an issue to help a client make an intelligent decision in a pinch and be able to find a more in-depth expert when needed.
How to Find the Right Lawyer for Your Crypto Project
As an entrepreneur and investor in blockchain, you should understand what it means when you meet someone that describes themselves as a crypto lawyer. Not all crypto lawyers will be appropriate for your business. You should find one with a skill set that matches the needs of your organization.
Ideally, you would find a lawyer that has already represented a similarly situated crypto business. If that’s not possible, he or she should have represented a relevant business in the non-blockchain world.
Ultimately all crypto-related businesses are software development companies, so generally speaking, your crypto lawyer should have a good background representing software developers. He or she should have a solid understanding of how software development works and the laws surrounding technology ventures.
But exceptions can be made when your crypto business is also highly specialized in non-traditional ways. For example, if you are starting a crypto lending platform you might consider hiring a lawyer that has experience in the lending business. Or if you are opening a crypto exchange domiciled in the United States, you might seek a lawyer that has a regulatory background with the SEC. Both of these lawyers will have different skill sets yet each might refer to himself as a crypto lawyer.
But be careful. Hiring a former SEC regulator to work at a typical blockchain venture makes little sense. He or she may understand securities laws, and how to manage regulatory compliance with the SEC, but he or she will know very little about software development, intellectual property laws, and the myriad of other issues that arise in the course of running a software development company.
What does this mean for Crypto Law Insiders?
Insiders know the importance of quality legal counsel. Having a good lawyer on your team is essential to helping you stay afloat in the constantly evolving crypto regulatory environment and grow sustainably.
A well-informed crypto lawyer can also help you to establish the best governance structure for your venture, select the best jurisdiction and help you protect your intellectual property. All of these can be crucial elements in the survival and growth of a crypto-related business.
However, as the industry is so new, the title “Crypto Lawyer” alone should be treated with caution and even skepticism. When selecting the right counsel for your crypto project, be sure to look at their specific experience and credentials to see if they are the right fit.