One lesson I’ve learned: regardless of domain – whether sports, school, or life – the best way to learn something is from the masters.
On the high school basketball team, coaches helped improve my game. In law school, upper-year students helped me navigate courses and practicing lawyers taught me about building a legal practice.
Time spent learning from successful people made me more successful.
The 5-chimps theory is often cited when discussing success/failure. The idea is you are the average of the 5 people you associate with most.
Whether you believe the theory, surrounding yourself with people smarter than you is always a good idea (although your ego won’t always agree).
But easier said than done, right?
How can you surround yourself with smart people when you:
- live in a small town
- without a pre-established network
- aren’t anyone special (despite your mother’s conviction)
Enter social media. Particularly this guy:
After joining Twitter months ago, I’m amazed at the incredible legal minds consistently posting interesting articles, short discussions, and insights on cryptocurrencies and related blockchain technologies. I’ve learned more in the past two months from these people than the previous 3-years on LinkedIn.
You want to learn more about crypto, particularly the legal side of it. So do I. Nice. So where do we go from here?
Read this list.
This is a list of the people who educate, debate, and contemplate laws affecting crypto & everything blockchain. They are some of the smartest people in the crypto space. I’m always impressed while reading (& often re-reading) their insights.
Listed in the order I discovered them, these are the people to follow if you want to understand blockchain laws and governance (incl. crypto, NFTs, DAOs, DeFi, etc):
*note, there may be many whom I miss, please leave their twitter handles in the comments for people to find.
For those unfamiliar with his work, Nick is a computer scientist, legal scholar, and cryptographer known for his research in digital contracts and digital currency. Bitgold – a paper which he authored in 1998 – was a mechanism for decentralized digital currency (sound familiar?). An OG of the crypto space, Nick uses his legal background to tie together code & law.
Criminally under-followed, it is obvious Collins understands the laws relating to crypto better than most. I personally learn something from each tweet he posts. Currently the Managing Partner at Brookwood P.C., a boutique transactional practice focused on serving founders, startups and emerging technology companies, Collins was previously Counsel at Atrium LLP as part of the Atrium Fintech & Blockchain team, where we worked with fintech startups and companies employing blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in their daily operations.
Co-Founder of OpenLaw & Professor at the Cardozo Law School, where he founded the Blockchain Project and Tech Startup Clinic, Aaron is involved in all things crypto law. He chairs the Legal Advisory Working Group for the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, and literally (co)wrote the book on Blockchain law. Like how Bitcoin ushered in an era of peer-to-peer payments, OpenLaw aims to usher in the future of peer-to-peer legal agreements. Aaron is also the owner of an awesome Cryptopunk.
The Chief Legal Officer at Niftys (previously a Prof and IP Law Attorney), Olta is extremely knowledgable about the laws surrounding NFTs. From her LinkedIn: “Leveraging many years of IP expertise, Ms. Andoni specializes in the creation of robust legal structures and compliance policies for fintech and blockchain companies.” She is employee No. 5 at Nifty’s, which recently raised pre-seed funding from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, among others.
More than just a (very) impressive resume, Jake consistently offers crypto-law tweets and a newsletter via substack. He’s involved in all aspects of the crypto ecosystem & has a fundamental understanding of the regulatory space surrounding crypto. Per his bio: Jake Chervinsky is General Counsel for Compound Labs, Inc., a financial technology company building a decentralized protocol for autonomous interest rate markets on the Ethereum blockchain.
Besides being the owner of an the awesome Twitter handle, Lewis is an experienced corporate attorney specializing in all aspects of blockchain and distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, cryptocurrencies and other new capital raising techniques and structures for businesses. He acts as an incredible “filter” as he retweets many insightful threads and opinions (as well as offering his own).
Kathryn is a General Partner and co-chair of crypto funds at Andreessen Horowitz. She also serves as an independent director on the board of Coinbase, where she chairs its Nomination and Governance Committee. Before venture capital, Katie spent a decade as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where she focused on fraud, cyber, and corporate crime, creating the government’s first cryptocurrency task force.
Dr. Kianieff is an Associate Professor at Windsor Law where he specializes in consumer payment mechanisms and blockchain laws. At Windsor, Dr. Kianieff teaches Blockchain & the Law, the first course of its kind in Canada, and the course that opened my eyes to the potential of blockchain technology. Professor Kianieff is also the author of Blockchain Technology and the Law: Opportunities and Risks.
I first discovered Paul in his interview with Jonah Perlin on the How I Lawyer podcast. Paul is currently the Chief Legal Officer at Coinbase, where he presides over the company’s global legal operations. Prior to his appointment, Paul was VP and Deputy General Counsel of Facebook, a U.S. Magistrate Judge, and a Partner at Howrey LLP. He continuously provides valuable advice and updates on all things crypto.
Drew has been involved in blockchain law for years, and his tweets reflect his deep understanding. Per his bio: Nominated as one of Coindesk’s Most Influential People in Blockchain in 2017, Andrew “Drew” Hinkes is a Partner with K&L Gates, working as part of its National Blockchain and Digital Currency practice. Drew was appointed as an Adjunct Professor by the NYU Stern Business School and the NYU School of Law, where he co-teaches “Digital Currency, Blockchains, and the Future of the Financial Services Industry.” Drew is also the co-founder and General Counsel of Athena Blockchain, a professional services firm focused on tokenized investment products.
Jason tweets about regulatory issues relating to all things DeFi. He is a Partner in Morrison Cohen LLP’s Business Litigation Department, and Chair of the White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement practice group. Jason is the principal author of the MoCo Cryptocurrency Litigation Tracker, and was named to the National Law Journal‘s inaugural list of Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Fintech Trailblazers. Jason regularly advises U.S. and foreign companies on blockchain and cryptocurrency law relating to litigation and regulatory risk issues, and has been widely published and quoted in the media for his cryptocurrency and blockchain expertise.
You may recognize Hester as the crypto-interested SEC Commissioner; She is known as “Crypto Mom” because of her positive regulatory stance on digital assets. Prior to joining the SEC, Commissioner Peirce conducted research on the regulation of financial markets at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and was also an associate at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. She will be instrumental in the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Come for the legal insights, stay for the memes. One of the most entertaining follows on crypto twitter, Nelson is the Principal at Smolinski Rosario Law, where he specializes in the laws surrounding financial and blockchain technologies. Per his bio: Mr. Rosario has a background in computer science, and he writes and speaks regularly on emerging technology issues relevant to attorneys and entrepreneurs. In addition, Mr. Rosario teaches a class called “Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Law” at Illinois Tech, Chicago-Kent College of Law covering the legal and technology issues surrounding the blockchain space.
A crypto punks crypto lawyer – Gabriel is an expert on all things crypto and one of my most important twitter follows. If you’re at all interested in crypto and Web 3.0, you must follow Gabriel. A Partner at Belcher, Smolen & Van Loo LLP, he is corporate attorney for builders of DeFi, DAOs, blockchain & other decentralization technologies. Gabriel is incredibly knowledgable about the space, and the breadth of his understanding is enormous.
Partner at the Washington D.C. office of Anderson Kill, he is co-chair of Anderson Kill’s recently launched Blockchain and Virtual Currency group. He has written and been quoted widely on legal issues arising from the use of Blockchain technology, with appearances in both print and television media. Very smart and knowledgable on all things crypto, you’ll learn plenty (and have the occasional laugh) from Stephen’s tweets. After reviewing his profile, can confirm he looks different than his twitter photo.
An IP Lawyer, Zach is also very knowledgable about blockchain technology and the laws around it. He is an experienced general counsel having a focus on intellectual property, transactional, and M&A law and a strong interest in emerging technologies. Zach also coordinates and speaks monthly at BUZZ, a blockchain discussion group in Chicago.
A former attorney specializing in digital currency, Sasha is currently Senior Counsel at Exodus (a crypto wallet business). She writes extensively on her blog about all things crypto, money transmission, and much more.
A fellow Canadian, Evan works on cases involving technology and data, such as disputes involving data licensing, privacy, data security, information technology projects, cryptocurrencies, online defamation/brand protection and access to information. Evan regularly speaks (and tweets) on all-things crypto and the law.
An editor at LexDAO and co-founder of OpenEsquire, Ross is building a LegalEngineering venture reprogramming organizations and their assets on OpenLaw and Ethereum. Openesq.tech is wicked. He also hosts many session on LexDAO where he offers explanations of smart contracts. Ross is very knowledgable about all things blockchain and provides consistently great insights. Per his bio: Focus on blockchain and cryptocurrency industry; representing startups creating and managing digital assets; building automated agreements through blockchain programming. You’ll be glad you followed Ross.
Not only does Preston have a dog with laser eyes (awesome), he also knows crypto laws inside and out. Partner at Anderson Kill, Preston’s practice focuses on helping early-stage technology companies with corporate transactions, IP, and other complex cross-border legal issues. He previously co-founded and was COO of early enterprise blockchain startup Monax, the first permissioned blockchain, in 2014. He also runs a very interesting blog in his namesake.
Those interested in crypto should Walch-out for Angela’s tweets (I’m sorry). She’s been involved in crypto since almost the beginning, coming at it from a purely academic approach. A Professor at St. Mary’s Law, Angela is also a research associate at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. You’ll learn about the legal side of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from Angela. From her bio: Her research focuses on money and the law, cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies, and financial stability. Walch’s work on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies is internationally recognized, and she speaks at events around the world.
While her tweets are less frequent than others, her work in blockchain cannot be understated. Co-author of the book Blockchain & the Law, Primavera’s research focuses on the legal challenges and opportunities of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence, with specific focus on governance and trust. She was a founding member of the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technologies at the World Economic Forum, and co-founder of the Internet Governance Forum’s Dynamic Coalitions on Blockchain Technology (COALA).
In addition to smoking meats, Marc is a seasoned litigator, President and CLO of LawCoin (dejure.io) – a legal industry fintech platform – and Partner at Axler Goldich (axlergoldich.com), a class action, commercial litigation, whistleblower, and business advisory law firm. He knows his crypto laws, and he sure knows how to cook.
As a Partner at Anderson Kill, Hailey provides legal consulting to crypto and fintech companies. She previously spent time as regulatory counsel for various companies in the crypto space, including Coinbase, bitFlyer, and Silvergate Bank. Her tweets are both entertaining and informative, and she frequently speaks at major conferences about the laws surrounding cryptocurrencies.
The director of research at CoinCenter, Peter has been writing about Bitcoin since before it was cool (around 2014, at least). A rare mix of coder & lawyer, Peter attended the NYU School of Law (specializing in IP Law) before his current role at CoinCenter. He writes and speaks extensively around all things crypto and blockchain, and recently testified before the US House of Representatives.
The Chief Legal Officer at crypto exchange Kraken, Marco is a recognized authority on the laws of blockchain. Before Kraken (per bio), “Marco was the Chief Legal Officer of Blockchain.com, as well as a Partner at both Cooley LLP and Pillsbury Winthrop, where he counselled banks, broker-dealers, exchanges, digital wallets, payment providers, and other companies making new uses of distributed ledger technology.”
Jesse writes about NFTs, DAOs and Intellectual Property Law for Creators & Platforms. He has a newsletter on substack and a site dedicated to his legal practice. One of the rare legal minds who owns a cryptopunk, Jesse wrote the NFT Legal Guide for Creators, an educational guide for artists and creators entering the world of NFTs (it’s great).
Another rare coder/lawyer, Dan works at Paradigm as a Research Partner. At Paradigm, they are working to create a new kind of investment firm. Dan’s research is focused on crypto investments and open-source protocols. He previously practiced as a litigation attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Dan writes extensively about crypto and is extremely knowledgable about the space.
Tonya is an expert in NFTs and the laws surrounding them. A frequent contributor to all things crypto law, she is a “global leader, accomplished academic and administrator, and world-renowned speaker with over twenty years of experience in law, innovation, academia and entrepreneurship.” She also runs a popular course “From Cash to Crypto” and hosts (and cohosts) two podcasts. Not your typical Professor.
OTHERS YOU SHOULD BE FOLLOWING
- Drew Morris – Legal counsel at TRM Labs
- Chetan Paul – Canadian Cybersecurity Lawyer
- Jenny Vatrenko – Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies Litigation Lawyer
- Greg Xethalis – Corporate & Securities Partner at Chapman Cutler
- Erich Dylus – Legal Engineer at API 3 & specializing in privacy
- Nick Rishwain – Legal Tech
- Jason Civalleri – Crypto Attorney & Adjunct Law Prof
- Alex Fagella – Blockchain-focused Lawyer
- Eugene Prokepenko – Litigation Lawyer
- Nathan Vandy – Legal Counsel
- Eagle Lex – Law Professor interested in DAO and DeFi
- Nick Pullman – Securities & Corporate Lawyer
- Marc Boiron – General Counsel at dYdX Protocol & DeFi Co-Chair
- Rabecca Rettig – General Counsel at Aave
- Jorl Law – Crypto Lawyer (mysterious lack of bio)
- Sarah Brennan – Blockchain Practice Lead & Corp Securities Attorney at HSE Law
- James McCall – DAO & DeFi Lawyer
- Andrea Tosato – Associate Professor & Lecturer
- Zoe Dolan – Lawyer & Author
- Bill Warren – Former Lawyer & current legal hacker
- Justin Wales – Lawyer at K&L Gates
- Lisa LeFever – Legal Counsel at BitGo
- Matt Burgoyne – Canadian Securities & Crypto Lawyer at McLeod Law
- Devin Higgins – Law Student
- David Roon – Part of the Flamingo DAO Team
- Rohan Grey – Prof & Vice-Chair at Digital Currency Global Initiative
- Daniel Rollingher – Legal Counsel at Fabrica – putting real estate on the blockchain
- Patrick Daugherty – Corporate Partner at Foley & Lardner
- Shannon Randhawa – Law Student
- Justin Carey Steffen – Fintech Partner at BFKN Law
- Michael Chehab – Founder of Crypto Law Firm
- Grant Gulovsen – Attorney representing crypto clients
- Eric Hess – Crypto Lawyer at Hess Legal
- Sam Miorelli – Global business lead in cybersecurity
- Mitch Kowalski – General Counsel & Legal Innovation Professor
- Joshua Durham – Law Student at Wake Forest Law
- Alex Lindgren – Fintech & Blockchain Attorney at Lloy Law
- Geoff Costeloe – Digital Asset Planning Lawyer
- Donna Redel – NY Crypto Lawyer
- Joe Carlasare – Lawyer and Bitcoin enthusiast
- Alexandra Damsker – Crypto, NFT, and blockchain strategy and regulatory expert
- Rafael Yakobi – Managing attorney at The Crypto Lawyers
- Gordon Law – Lawyers in tax, crypto, and startups
- Addison Cameron-Huff – Canadian lawyer working on crypto and startups
- Ana Badour – Canadian Fintech/Banking lawyer
- Mike Bacina – Australia lawyer with a blockchain-focused practice
- Stuart Hoeger – Canadian Bitcoin lawyer
- Brian Brooks – CEO of BinanceUS & former CLO at Coinbase
- Priyanka Desai – She really deserves a full write-up, and a follow, bc not many know more about NFTs and law than Priyanka
- Jacob Robinson – This is me – I’m an Articling Student at Cassels Brock & Blackwell
Thanks for reading! Hope this helps you curate your Twitter to learn more about all things blockchains & the law.
Did I miss anyone? Let me know who should be included in the comments below.
You missed me, I am not as experienced as your featured persons though. Thanks for the article.
I’ve been writing patents for Ethereum since before the crowdsale but I’m not well connected in the space. I’d love…
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