Want to find out more about the best crypto lawyers? Lawyers who specialise in blockchain, crypto and NFTs are in massive demand right now. The Wall Street Journal confirmed in May 2022 that, ‘crypto exchanges and companies are poaching attorneys left and right to help navigate an evolving regulatory landscape.’
But crypto lawyers are not just for companies. Individuals need them too. Whether you thinking of setting up your own blockchain project, or trying to recoup crypto that has vanished into thin air, a crypto lawyer can help you out. Below we review five of the best crypto law firms.
A Closer Look at the Best Crypto Lawyers for 2023
Below we explore the services offered by three top crypto law firms, one crypto legislation specialist, and one crypto tax outfit.
1: Perkins Coie – Best of Law Firms Specializing in Blockchain Regulation
Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Perkins Coie has 1,200 lawyers spread across 17 offices in the US and 4 in China. The company was ranked 11th-biggest law firm in the US in 2020 by Law360. For 20 consecutive years, Perkins Coie has been named as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For by Fortune.
As with most top crypto lawyers, Perkins Coie offers its blockchain services as just one part of a multi-service suite of legal expertise. Alongside crypto, the firm advises on corporate law, intellectual property, product liability, real estate, estate planning, and litigation.
But Perkins Coie are considered nonetheless to be the top crypto lawyers in the US. Top independent research firm Chambers & Partners ranks Perkins Coie ‘as the premier law firm for cryptocurrency and blockchain issues with perhaps the largest dedicated team in the country in this field.’
In fact, the Blockchain Operations Team at Perkins Coie has ten experienced attorneys dedicated to crypto, with more than 40 other lawyers adding expertise in overlapping fields of law.
Partner Alexandra Cole, for example, brings her expertise in real estate to blockchain property applications. Partner Andrew.P. Cross advises on the commodity law aspects of token sales.
Partner J. Dax Hansen, on the other hand, is an out-and-out fintech and blockchain specialist. Recognised as a crypto legal pioneer, Hansen’s work in stablecoins, NFTs, smart contracts, coin offerings and currency exchanges goes back to the beginning of Bitcoin in 2010. Hansen helped to found and represent the Bitcoin Foundation, the Chamber of Digital Commerce and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.
Equally specialized, Partner Kevin Feldis works on Perkins Coie’s blockchain enforcement and litigation group and specialises in defending companies against SEC investigations. Perkins Coie scored a notable coup in 2020 by gaining SEC approval for the sale of VCOIN as a transferable non-security on behalf of its client IMVU Inc. VCOIN is not yet available for sale on even the best altcoin exchanges, but is available only on the IMVU metaverse platform.
2: Mishcon de Reya — One of the Best Crypto Lawyers for Asset Tracing
Mishcon de Reya is a team of 600 lawyers working from three international offices (London, Singapore and Hong Kong). Mishcon is a full-service law firm, offering hundreds of areas of expertise in areas of corporate, litigation, employment and real estate law on top of its blockchain skills.
In their capacity as crypto lawyers, Mishcon de Reya offer foundational expertise in the regulation of the ‘Internet of Things’, which is the physical network of computers that hold all the world’s data. Beyond that, the firm splits its crypto services into blockchain development and cryptocurrency fraud investigation.
Did you know that Mishcon de Reya is also one of the best NFT lawyers available in 2023?
The Mishcon Blockchain Group
Mishcon’s Blockchain Group helps companies to set up blockchain solutions while staying on the right side of legal and regulatory compliance. The team has worked on projects in various sectors including art, real estate, recruitment, retail and, of course, cryptocurrency.
When it comes to setting up crypto projects in particular, Mishcon advises on the various fund-raising formats including ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) and STOs (Security Token Offerings), as well as ensuring their client complies with the necessary KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) requirements.
The Mishcon Cryptocurrency Fraud Team
This is the aggressive side of the Mishcon crypto service that aims to track down stolen crypto and return it to its owners. Tools at the disposal of the Mishcon de Reya Cryptocurrency Fraud Team include:
- Blockchain analytics software, which tracks blockchain transactions and pins down where stolen cryptoassets are being stashed.
- Disclosure Orders, which compel crypto exchanges to reveal information in order to snare fraudsters.
- Asset Freeze Orders, which shut down a business or crypto wallet in order to recover stolen cryptoassets.
- Civil Search Orders, which authorise the search for, and seizure of, key evidence of crypto fraud.
With its own venture MDR Solutions 1, Mishcon also helps clients to secure funding to pursue otherwise unaffordable litigation in the crypto world.
3: Davis Polk — One of the Best Blockchain Law Firms For Crypto Finance
Davis Polk is a big-time US law firm with 1000 lawyers spread over 7 countries including the US, UK, China, Japan, France and Brazil. Named Law Firm of the Year 2021 at The American Lawyer Industry Awards, Davis Polk provides legal advice and services to financial institutions in numerous areas inside and outside the crypto world.
On the internet, Davis Polk’s most high-profile project involves Elon’s Musk’s purchase of social media platform Twitter. Davis Polk is providing legal advice to the investment banks arranging a $6.5bn loan facility that is a part of Musk’s deal.
Within the crypto sector specifically, Davis Polk advises on regulation, structuring financial products and transactions. Clients are mainly financial institutions, fintech companies and asset managers.
One of Davis Polk’s key current crypto engagements, for example, is in representing crypto firm Grayscale Investments.
Grayscale is trying to convert its Bitcoin Trust (ticker label: GBTC) to an Exchange-Traded Fund. But the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has only been giving the green light to Bitcoin futures funds rather than spot funds like Grayscale’s which track the current price of Bitcoin. Davis Polk is lobbying the SEC on behalf of Grayscale, whose ruling is expected in July, 2022.
Other Davis Polk crypto projects include:
- Advising the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on a deal with Gemini Exchange to offer crypto direct to the bank’s customers.
- Defending blockchain firm The Tezos Foundation successfully against class actions claiming its $232m funding round for its crypto XTZ violated US securities laws. You can read where to buy Tezos Coin here.
4: Selachii – Top Bitcoin Litigation Firm
This London-based law firm makes our top list because, despite its small size, it has a proven history of success in Bitcoin litigation.
Selachii offers general services in the area of dispute resolution, intellectual property and litigation. Its digital currency work is divided between Bitcoin disputes, compliance, regulation, NFT fraud and smart contracts.
The company boasts a ‘tenacious and entrepreneurial approach often challenging convention to achieve the client’s goals.‘ And it was partner Richard Howlett from Selachii who masterminded a successful class action against the Japanese Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, which famously filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
At its peak in the early 2010s, Mt Gox was handling 70% of global Bitcoin business. But, in February 2014, Mt Gox realised that it had been hacked. Thanks to a bug in the exchange’s software which allowed users to change transactions IDs, Mt Gox lost between 650,000 to 850,000 Bitcoin — which, at Bitcoin’s current price of just over $30,000 per coin, would be worth $19.5bn-$25.5bn today. Mt Gox filed for bankruptcy, leaving thousands of crypto investors out of pocket.
Selachii launched a class action against Mt Gox in 2014. And, after years of legal pressure, the Tokyo district court reclassified the bankruptcy in 2018 so that investors could apply for compensation in Bitcoin rather than in fiat currency. This was a key issue as between 2014 and 2018, the price of Bitcoin rose from a max of under $900 to $15.6k.
If you want to buy Bitcoin or any other crypto, the firm has partnered with trading platform CoinBurb to offer an in-house trading service.
5: Gordon Law — Top Crypto Tax Lawyers
Based in Chicago, Illinois, US, Gordon Law is a small law firm that specialises in cryptocurrency law and taxation. If you are an individual facing crypto tax issues, Gordon Law offers the sort of hands-on crypto lawyer you need. The firm services clients from the US as well as internationally.
Gordon Law prides itself on its adversarial approach. ‘Our team’ the firm says, ‘has squared off hundreds of times against the IRS, the FTC, state revenue boards, and corporate litigation opponents—so we know exactly what it takes to defeat your adversary.’
Gordon Law has been given a five-star rating from 81 Google reviews. Most reviewers have used Gordon Law to successfully file their crypto taxes. One example is happy client ‘T’ who reports that, ‘ I had a somewhat complicated crypto situation this year, but GLG helped me navigate it. I worked with Justin McCormick, who was both knowledgeable and efficient.’
Justin McCormick is an associate attorney at Gordon Law and a member of a 9-strong team of crypto tax specialists headed by company founder Andrew Gordon, Tax Attorney and CPA (Crypto Public Accountant).
The Gordon Law team focus their work on the nitty-gritty of crypto tax law as it relates to individuals. Three particular areas of expertise are:
- Cryptocurrency Audits
If you have been singled out for a crypto tax audit, the Gordon team will design a custom audit plan for you, as well as represent you to the IRS.
- IRS Cryptocurrency Letter Response
Received a nasty letter from the IRS like a CP2000, 6173, 6174, 6174-A,6323,CP90 or CP518? Head spinning? Gordon Law will tell you how to respond.
- Reporting Crypto Taxes
Gordon will show you to how ensure that, when it comes to your dealings with crypto exchanges, the IRS don’t over-estimate your taxable gains.
What are Crypto Lawyers?
A crypto lawyer is a lawyer who has achieved a general qualification in law and now offers particular expertise in cryptocurrency and blockchains.
Crypto lawyers are to be found working independently, working together in law firms or representing individual companies as General Counsel.
If I am Based in the US, Do I Need a US Crypto Lawyer?
Although different crypto laws are evolving in different countries, crypto is an international phenomenon. Investors, after all, can make money with crypto wherever they are in the world. So it is quite normal for crypto lawyers from one country to service clients in another.
When it comes to crypto tax issues and the IRS, it is likely that a US firm will be most useful.
Will my Crypto Law Firm Offer Blockchain Services Only?
Perhaps, but unlikely.
Apart from specialist crypto tax firms, few law firms are set up as exclusive specialists in Web 3.0 and crypto only. There are exceptions, like the Crypto Lawyers based in Miami, Florida, US. But most top crypto lawyers base their crypto expertise on experience gained in other areas of finance, fintech, fraud, intellectual property, debt recovery and litigation.
Those law firms that do offer blockchain expertise often offer a diverse suite of services to suit different types of client. These services often span everything from asset tracing aimed at the individual (which means getting your Bitcoin back!) to compliance with regulation (for corporations).
But that is not to say that specialists have not emerged.
After successfully leading a class action against failed Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox in 2014, top London crypto firm Selachii, for example, has positioned itself as a Bitcoin fraud expert. In the specific area of SEC regulation, Perkins Coie as well as Davis Polk have made a name for themselves too.
Will my Crypto Lawyer Have a Legal Blockchain Qualification?
In the US, your crypto lawyer will have gained a license to practise law by achieving a Doctor of Jurisprudence or Juris Doctor degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association. That you can rely on.
But, when it comes to blockchain legal issues apart from taxation, there is no special qualification relating to crypto work that holds any great weight.
Companies offer online training modules — like, for example, the Certified Blockchain & Law Professional qualification offered by the Blockchain Council. But these type of qualifications are not legal qualifications per se; they simply show that the holder has completed a course relating to legal issues.
What you might find, however, is that your crypto lawyer has educated themselves in key aspects of how the blockchain works.
Take Partner Michael R. Henson of top crypto lawyers Perkins Coie, for example. Recognised as one of the world’s leading Intellectual Property professionals, Michael serves on the Blockchain Team at Perkins Coie. His biography reveals that he is also a Certified Blockchain Developer Ethereum (CBDE). Not only that, but he has completed numerous certified learning modules on crypto, including Blockchain Architecture, Introduction to Hyperledger Fabric and Composer and Blockchain Security Training.
Note that your crypto lawyer may be extremely successful without holding any specific crypto qualification or accreditation.
Where qualification really does matter in blockchain issues is in the area of taxation. Many top crypto law firms employ CPAs (Crypto-Certified Public Accountants). These are not necessarily crypto tax lawyers, but accountants. Consult with a CPA (like Gordon Law’s Andrew Gordon, for example, who is actually a lawyer) if your affairs are too complex for your crypto tax software to handle.
Which Type of Client are You?
Crypto lawyers tend to have two distinct groups of clients:
Individuals Facing a Crypto Issue
An individual may have been lured by the promise that they can earn free Bitcoin, but failed to check the credentials of the provider and were ripped off. As a result, the individual needs help to get their funds back, so they consult a crypto lawyer. With the rise of the $25bn NFT market and its high potential for scamming, the best NFT lawyers are in demand too among individual investors.
Companies Facing a Crypto Issue
Numerous legal issues face any company working in, or around, the blockchain ecosystem. These issues include the prevention of cybertheft on the blockchain, compliance with Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) protocols as well as a whole tangle of crypto start-up legalities. Like individuals, companies too have to face the nightmare of losing crypto assets to fraud, and hire crypto lawyers to trace and recover their assets.
What Services Can Crypto Lawyers Provide?
Blockchain law firms cover all legal aspects of crypto, NFTs and blockchain-related business.
1: Crypto Business & Regulation
The biggest crypto lawyers tend to focus on providing big firms with guidance when it comes to a wide range of crypto business issues, like:
- Navigation data protection regulation around the ‘Internet of Things’.
- Setting up and running Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Security Token Offerings (STOs).
- Ensuring that AML (Anti-Money-Laundering) and KYC (Know Your Customer) regulation is enforced correctly.
- Securing funding to launch crypto start-ups, including centralised and decentralised exchanges.
- Employment issues.
Any type of crypto business tends to involve numerous broader legal issues such as investment law and intellectual property, as well as specific blockchain matters.
2: Crypto Fraud Recovery
According to a recent crypto crime report by top blockchain experts Chainanalysis, a total of US$14 billion of cryptoassets was stolen worldwide in 2021. The victims number corporations and individuals alike.
Most of the top crypto lawyers handle crypto fraud. They aim to recover stolen crypto by deploying a number of investigative and legal tools in unison.
First, blockchain analysis software is deployed to track transactions between crypto wallets and find the stolen crypto, as well as identify the cyber-thieves. Then legal search orders are instituted, so that computer equipment can be confiscated and analysed. Freeze orders are used to freeze assets, to stop crypto being siphoned away. And, finally, litigation is used to get fraudsters convicted and cryptoassets returned to their rightful owners.
3: Crypto Litigation
Crypto litigation works in two directions:
- Litigating to recover stolen cryptoassets (as outlined above).
- Defending against litigation brought by regulatory bodies like the SEC.
Featured crypto lawyers Selochii had great success in bringing legislation to bring the bankrupted Mt Gox exchange to book last decade and reimburse Bitcoin investors.
When it comes to defending against regulatory bodies, a legal case of global importance is running at the moment.
The SEC has brought a case against Ripple Labs before the US Supreme Court. The SEC says that Ripple’s crypto XRP is an unregistered security, and therefore Ripple’s sale of $1.3bn worth of XRP was illegal. (XRP is just one of over 19,000 coins you can explore to make money from crypto).
At the heart of the Ripple case is the Howey Test. This is an established four-point list used to determine whether a financial asset is a security or not. If it is decided that XRP is not a security, it is likely that the global crypto sector will receive a great boost.
Ripple is not being defended by a specialist crypto legal firm, but by its General Counsel Stuart Alderoty.
Alderoty confirmed in an April 2022 tweet that the Ripple case is likely to drag on till 2023.
4: NFT Fraud
The market for Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) was valued at $25bn at the end of 2021. Top NFTs, like those of the Bored Ape Yacht Club Collection, routinely sell for almost $400k each and investors can buy ApeCoin, which is the governance token for the collection.
But NFT fraud is increasingly a big problem.
There are two types of NFT fraud victim:
- Artists who are cheated out of their livelihood by scammers taking an image of their work and selling it in NFT form. One example of many centred on accomplished Hamburg sculptor Hedi Xandt, whose image ‘God of the Grove’ was sold as an NFT online without his knowledge.
- Investors who purchase an NFT sold under false pretences. In the Xandt affair, the unwitting mark was German designer David Drayton.
Selachii partner Richard Howlett explains that, ‘as any digital object can become an NFT once it’s been put on the blockchain – or ‘minted’ as it’s called – as things stand today, it is very easy to steal images from the internet or social media and create your own tokens. Added to that, verifying your identity on trading platforms like Rarible and OpenSea is hardly a stringent process.’
Top NFT lawyers like featured firm Selachii are well-versed in the fast-moving NFT world. They know how to track down fraudsters and get funds returned to duped investors, as well as secure compensation for scammed artists. You may have figured out how to invest in NFTs. But you will need a top crypto lawyer if you get scammed.
5: Crypto Taxation
There are no hard-and-fast rules on crypto taxation yet in the US and elsewhere. Regulation is evolving. Fast. And it is serious stuff. US attorney Nick Oberheiden confirms that, ‘the IRS takes the position that crypto income is one of the primary reasons for unreported income in the United States.’
A key problem for US crypto investors is that the major crypto exchanges are beginning to report to the IRS — but are not presenting a balanced picture. Often, only data on sales is reported without accounting for the cost basis for crypto trading.
US crypto tax specialists Gordon Law stress the need for US crypto investors to file their own crypto accounts in order to avoid over-paying tax: ‘without sending your own crypto tax report, the IRS will see only your total sales volume and treat the entire amount as a taxable gain. In short, they’ll think you owe much more than you actually do.’
If you have successfully learnt how to invest in cryptocurrency 2023, make sure you get pro-active with the IRS.
How to Get in Touch with the Best Crypto Lawyers in 2023
Contacting a crypto lawyer is very easy. You can usually reach out via telephone or email. And often a staff member will be designated as a key contact.
To contact the Blockchain Operations Team at top crypto lawyers Perkins Coie, for example, you need to speak to Partner Wendy L. Moore.
Click on Moore’s VCARD here, and her contact details will automatically file themselves in the Contacts section of your smartphone/desktop.
Unlike even the best crypto exchanges, top crypto lawyers have no problem with speaking to your personally. Otherwise, they would never get any clients!
In the crypto lawyers review above, we have explored what blockchain law firms work on as well as picked out some top names.
This is a fragmented service sector. There are law firms like Gordon Law that help individuals file their crypto tax returns. There are fraud specialists like Selochii who have unique experience in clawing back stolen assets. And there are top international firms like Perkins Coie, Mishcon de Reya and Polk Davis that handle fraud and asset tracing, as well as advising other companies and wealthy individuals on key areas of blockchain regulation and finance.
Overall, Perkins Coie is recognised to be the leading crypto lawyers in the US.
What is a blockchain law firm?
How will cryptocurrency affect law firms?
What is a blockchain lawyer?
What happens if crypto gets regulated?
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