Cryptocurrency is in complete free fall. That’s not particularly surprising since the whole endeavor is precariously balanced upon the toxic combination of a “gold bug” mentality and a boiler room atmosphere. Even with the Dollar beset by Russian-oil driven inflation, people are still figuring out that crypto is a joke.
So why are lawyers still flocking to the blockchain banner?
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with blockchain technology. It’s actually pretty useful for its intended purposes. Those purposes just don’t include Galt’s Gulch Bucks or Ennui Caterpillars or whatever they’re hawking to gullible investors now.
But the folks driving the rapidly bursting crypto bubble are stockpiling lawyers in a desperate bid for credibility.
Like Munger Tolles & Olson’s Don Verrilli. Digital asset manager Grayscale just tapped the former solicitor general to join its legal team — along with Davis Polk — as it tries to convince the SEC to let it convert its Bitcoin Trust into an Exchange Traded Fund.
Speaking of Davis Polk, DPW-trained Senator Kirsten Gillibrand just announced a new bill laying out a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency driven by industry lobbyists hoping for government-approved legitimacy.
While these may be the highest-profile crypto shilling announcements in recent days, they’re hardly alone. As Benjamin Pimentel details in this in-depth Protocol piece, there’s a full-on revolving door at work as crypto stockpiles insider D.C. lawyers.
The Tech Transparency Project identified more than 200 former government officials who occupied “key positions in the White House, Congress, federal regulatory agencies, and national political campaigns” and have moved on to roles in the crypto industry.
These former officials range from the former acting head of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks becoming CEO of a crypto outfit to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen becoming a “strategic advisor” to a “decentralized compliance solution for the crypto space.” Ah, it seems like only yesterday Nielsen was overseeing government-sanctioned child kidnapping.
Government officials and staff leaving to take private-sector roles — called the “revolving door” — is common in major industries such as energy and finance. But the trend has become even more pronounced in crypto, said Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project.
“I’ve never seen an industry go from no revolvers on payroll to this quantity of revolvers as quickly as crypto,” he told Protocol. “Crypto has invested in hiring swamp creatures more rapidly than any other industry in history.”
Now some people might say that a situation where a small number of investors with massive holdings aggressively market an entirely made up asset to new investors in order to offload their portfolios at a profit before the market collapses under the weight of its own hype is just a souped-up Ponzi scheme, but….
I must have lost my train of thought there. Anyway, moving on, if Senator Gillibrand really wanted to do something to keep cryptocurrency honest and add an air of authenticity to these insiders turned crypto-reps, maybe propose mandating that all alternative currencies must pay their employees and vendors in crypto.
Because while I’m sure a lot of these people have crypto holdings kicking around as part of their compensation packages, I don’t think many of these lawyers are planning to start billing out in Dogecoin anytime soon.
Which is kind of telling.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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