The best cryptocurrency lawyer 15 years from now will probably be someone who isn't in the news today. They're struggling to build their business and cut through the noise, while delivering great value to clients. A lot of lawyers news covers the people who are partners at big firms, or who have PR/advertising budgets. But what most people need is someone who's reasonably priced, gets their work done, and most of all: is available. With the rapid groth of crypto, and the accompanying startups that are powering the industry forward, comes a significant need for lawyers. Many lawyers are full for work and the consequence of not having a lawyer can be disastrous. So I reached out on LinkedIn to find lawyers who are looking for more work in this area and are available to help.
I solicited each of the lawyer's information and gathered it into a spreadsheet. The rest of this blog post is what the lawyers sent me. I don't know most of these people personally, and can't speak to their work, but that doesn't mean they aren't great - it just means I need to find the time to chat with more lawyers! I encourage you to reach out directly to several of these people to find the lawyer who's right for you. Further down in the post you'll find a short summary of each person's practice.
1. Bek Nazarov
2. Essa Abdool-Karim
3. Geoff Costleoe
4. George Daoud
5. Karim Eshqoor
6. Navid Dehghani
7. Pouya Makki
8. Pulat Yunusov
9. Sam Sutherland
Pulat Yunusov is a Toronto litigator who I've recommended to a number of clients for his straightforward approach to litigation files. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is: lawto.ca. He provided a simple summary of why he's different from others:
Coded a blockchain implementation in Rust. Litigator for 10+ years.
Every virtual currency dealer will at some point need advice from a lawyer skilled in navigating the money services business space. George Daoud (email@example.com) is the only respondent who selected this as their #1 area of focus. George's LinkedIn account has more about their work, and they provided a succint summary:
I provide tailored solutions for optimal results, mitigate internal and external risk, and increase evidence-based efficiency.
Four lawyers in Ontario selected their #1 area of focus as corporate/commercial/business law. I've spoken with Pouya and Sam a couple times, and have been impressed by their passion for their space, and I hope to connect with the others in 2022.
i. Karim Eshqoor (firstname.lastname@example.org) is based in Aurora, Ontario. His law practice website is barbarianlaw.ca, and his two sentence summary of how his work is distinguished from others:
Fierce advocate in areas of wealth/asset management, tax planning, and business investments. Innovative and independent start-up business lawyer.
ii. Navid Dehghani (email@example.com) is based in Hamilton and Navid's website is www.ndehghani.com. Navid gave this description of his edge:
Entrepreneur starting a new technology business
iii. Pouya Makki (firstname.lastname@example.org) is on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pouya-makki-51b75414b/. He provided this quote for describing his edge (slightly edited for brevity):
Call me an idealist, but I strongly believe in the democratizing ethos of blockchain technology, and I want to see its trailblazers flourish. Close to 90% of my practice involves supporting blockchain and crypto companies - including clients in the NFT art, cryptocurrency trading and consulting, and payment service provider space.
iv. Sam Sutherland (email@example.com) is a lawyer who you can find on LinkedIn. Sam's edge is:
I use a proactive approach that prioritizes legal strategies both to detect and to mitigate risk, while positioning your company to grow and become profitable.
General Counsel/Team Lead
Essa Abdool-Karim (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Ontario lawyer who selected "general counsel/team lead" as their #1 area. Their website is: regalialaw.com and they provided this two line summary:
The most exciting clients are the ones with the biggest ideas, unparalleled ambition, and relentless tenacity. They have a dream, our job is to help them get there.
Ontario + New York-Licensed
Bek Nazarov (email@example.com) can be found on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/quantalaw. Bek was the only lawyer who responded who's licensed in New York State and Ontario, which is a helpful combination for cross-border businesses. As an additional bonus, their #1 area of focus is securities/investment, helpful for cross-border investment deals. Their edge is:
Emphasis on securities / investment management law in the blockchain space for companies, asset managers (investment fund managers, pension funds, VC funds), funds, intermediaries (dealers, exchanges, advisers)
British Columbia & Alberta-Licensed
Geoff Costleoe (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the only dual-licensed, Alberta and British Columbia lawyer who responded to my survey. Geoff's #1 area is business law (corporate/commercial) and they provided this explanation of their edge:
Core Contributor and LEETH (Legal Engineering on Ethereum) Certified at LexDAO. Focused on tax and estate planning matters relating to crypto.
I had each of them rate from 1-10 how much crypto work they do in the Google Form they submitted. Some rated 9/10, others 1/10 but I've omitted these numbers because peoples' practices can quickly change.
Some of these lawyers work in several areas, but I asked them to pick one. So the areas of law you see above may not be a good summary of where all of their strengths lie.
Most of the respondents to my LinkedIn post were Ontario lawyers, which makes sense given the strength of Ontario in the crypto industry, and my own location in Toronto. There are lots of great lawyers in Quebec, BC, Alberta, and the other provinces, but you'll have to find them elsewhere.
This is not in any way a comprehensive list, and I rather unfairly solicited feedback as everyone was closing out their year and getting ready for the holidays. There are many other amazing lawyers out there who would be happy to help with your crypto business.
This blog post isn't an endorsement of any of these people. It's an attempt to offer some options. The best lawyer for you is the lawyer that best aligns with your circumstances and needs, not necessarily the person who's best known or has the best website. When my clients need certain legal skills I recommend people at very large firms sometimes, and sometimes I recommend people who are sole practitioners. I hope this blog post helps someone to find the lawyer who best fits their needs.