Crypto firms are poaching top lawyers to save on external legal fees

Crypto companies desperate to avoid regulatory slip-ups while slashing their legal bills are poaching top attorneys with promises of plum roles and seven-figure salaries, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
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Crypto companies are poaching top attorneys with promises of plum roles and seven-figure salaries in a bid to avoid regulatory slip-ups and slash legal bills, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

Firms are also beefing up their in-house legal expertise to facilitate mainstream acceptance and to attract more potential investors, says the WSJ.

John Wolf Konstant, senior consultant at tech-focused recruiting firm Whistler Partners, told WSJ:

“In [the crypto] space, the consensus is you need to have someone in-house early.”

“Especially since investors are going to require that, you need to have someone there to help chaperone the process and to make sure everything is buttoned up from the start.”

Konstant also explained how, while competition is fierce across all sectors, companies are particularly keen to tie down those with previous crypto law firm experience or specialized crypto knowledge.

Indeed, top legal operators enmeshed in crypto are in such demand, he says remuneration packages can run into the seven-figure range.

Earlier this year, San Francisco-based crypto exchange Kraken announced that it was on the hunt for at least 30 lawyers. Chief legal officer Marco Santori said he’d “like to hire sixty” but doesn’t know how to. “Can I acquire a law firm?” he pondered.

Then in an email update to the WSJ last week, Santori said: “We are attracting the best lawyers from both traditional finance and white-shoe firms. The brain drain is real and we couldn’t be happier with it.”

Kraken isn’t the only big crypto name buttressing its legal team. Over the past two years Coinbase has lured top legal minds who worked for the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and even Kraken.

The exchange also paid a reported $18 million to convince its chief legal officer Paul Grewal to jump ship from Facebook in July 2020.

Crypto’s push to hoover up top legal professionals isn’t the first time the space has turned its sights – and wallets – on other industries’ top talent.

When Bitcoin’s price spiked in the second half of last year, increasing numbers of banking professionals decided to try their hand in the burgeoning new market.

Crypto firms have also made a habit of turning to Wall Street when in need of top performers.

Read more: Binance u-turns on Russian trading ban, Kraken remains steadfast

And just last week, Menlo Park VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) announced that it’s putting together a stellar team of top academics from around the US to help vet, research, and code its crypto portfolio.

The team will initially comprise researchers and experts who have previously plied their trade at institutions including Stanford University, Cambridge University, and Harvard.

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