👾 5 Key Takeaways: Let's Talk Legal in Crypto

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Legal Operations
Industry Insights

On Thursday, Matt spoke to Drew Morris about a niche that’s desperate for legal talent. Drew is Senior Legal Counsel at TRM Labs, a blockchain intelligence company that offers compliance and risk management solutions for companies in the crypto space, with the goal of building trust and safety into the crypto ecosystem. He’s also a pretty big deal on Twitter. Here’s what he had to say about getting into crypto as a legal professional.

1. Crypto needs more “boring” people.

06:45 - 10:00 and 37:30 - 40:38

Just because crypto is a new and innovative space doesn’t mean companies don’t need traditional financial services, like lawyers, accountants, and compliance experts. If anything they need them more than other companies. Crypto is now at a stage where there are lots of real, traditionally-structured companies that need corporate, employment, and tax lawyers - just like any other company in any other industry.

Product lawyers are a potential area of growth, especially in companies that are developing new crypto products, like FTX and Robinhood. Specialist legal roles focused on specific products are not popping up yet but they are likely to appear in the coming years.

2. More regulation is in the works.

12:35 - 15:36 and 36:28 - 37:30

The crypto space is still more or less unregulated. So far, most of the regulatory discussion has been around the question of what does and doesn’t qualify as a security, but regulators are getting more involved in a range of issues - from marketing to insider trading (you can read more on the latest regulatory action here). For example, prosecutors have laid the first-ever charge for NFT insider trading.

Not all players in the crypto space dread these changes. In fact, lots of people would welcome more clarity. Companies will need lawyers to steer them through this phase of increased regulation.

3. How the heck do I become a crypto lawyer?

23:45 - 27:35 and 40:51 - 46:30

Crypto is a super fun and exciting industry to work in but lawyers who are interested in crypto may not feel comfortable moving into that space. They might be worried that they don’t have a solid, complete understanding of how it all works. It might feel foreign or intimidating. Drew has a few tips for getting to grips with crypto and making the leap:

  • Get online (more on that below).
  • Reach out to lawyers in the space. They’re usually willing to talk.
  • Jump first, learn later. As long as you have a general understanding of the space, it’s okay to learn on the job.
  • Be proactive. You won’t naturally be funneled into this space.
  • Work at a law firm that is active in crypto.
  • Work on developing a unique skill set.

Off the (block) chain …

If you liked this event and would love to see more, check out what’s coming up in the next few weeks.

June 28th | Legal Freelancer Bootcamp: How to Interview Successfully

July 7th | How Legal Can Prepare for an Economic Downturn

4. Filter out the noise.

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Twitter is a great place to find opportunities, join discussions and connect with useful contacts in the crypto space. A lot of the industry’s zeitgeist is captured on the platform. Podcasts are another excellent way to get educated and keep up to date. But be picky. There’s a lot of clickbait out there. Stories about the decline of a crypto token or firm are the Depp-Heard trial of the financial system. They draw interest but they’re not necessarily providing quality information. Plus, there are plenty of Tweeters talking a load of nonsense. Try to look at what companies are actually doing and find the voices online that provide trustworthy content.

5. The future looks more promising than you think.

29:48 - 35:22

Sure, crypto will have more growing pains. Real-world use cases have not yet manifested as early adopters hoped. Token prices will go nuts in every direction but tech stocks and other industries have their ups and downs too. Yes, there are scammers and other criminal elements, but that’s true of every field, from doctors writing dodgy prescriptions to insider trading in the traditional financial system.

Drew is optimistic that crypto will ultimately become a fully-fledged financial system. There’s a lot of talent and energy moving into the space. Venture funds have recently raised blockbuster funds that they are going to be allocating into the crypto and web3 ecosystem. It will take a few years for those enterprises to grow and mature real use cases but they could drive the next bull run.

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Catch you at the next one,

🤩 The Lawtrades Team