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Calling All Lawyers: Blockchain Opportunities Are on the Line

Career Column
B lockchain is booming, so it should be no surprise that in-house counsel are now considering pursuing opportunities in this emerging industry. Julie Q. Brush, founding partner of Solutus Legal Search and author of the career blog The Lawyer Whisperer, is widely known as the preeminent expert on the state of the legal market and is responsible for the successful careers of scores of attorneys.

I interviewed Brush to better understand the opportunities for lawyers in the blockchain industry. According to Brush,

"In today's business world, there is a group of 'next generation' technologies that are going to revolutionize the way we live, think, interact, and conduct business. And blockchain technology is leading the way. Blockchain is one of the fastest growing areas whose digital foundation is serving as the springboard for a plethora of applications that use it, such as smart contracts and Bitcoin. These new applications target a diverse set of tangible, intangible, and digital assets in our culture and are creating increasing opportunities for lawyers."

Careers in blockchain are available for lawyers of every level of experience. Typically, businesses investing in blockchain are quick to appoint their seasoned legal experts to lead the new technology charge, especially as general counsel and head of legal/VP of legal roles are plentiful in today's market. Then there are mid-level lawyers who have a specialized background in regulations and are reliable picks for a company's first blockchain role.

Junior-level opportunities, meanwhile, are also abundant for lawyers with two to six years of legal experience. "These roles require strong complex transactions experience and are heavily tilted towards licensing and commercial responsibilities, with an emphasis on software and SaaS," Brush notes.

Diversity of skills and experiences may be required. Brush elaborates, "A background in fintech and/or financial services, or regulated industries, such as healthcare, insurance, REITS, fund formation, broker-dealer, private equity funds, investment banks, and syndications is almost always a must. Candidates who possess this background will enjoy a strong competitive advantage."

However, technology- and software-based experience isn't necessary to pivot to blockchain. Depending on the company, priorities on substantive expertise will vary. Brush recommends focusing on these areas for aspiring blockchain lawyers:

  • Commercial transactions;
  • Regulatory and compliance;
  • Privacy and cybersecurity;
  • Product development;
  • Consumer protection;
  • Employment and HR;
  • Real estate; or,
  • Board of directors experience.

Of course, lawyers who do not have the relevant industry background will encounter more challenges when competing for blockchain jobs. "For this constituency, considering an interim move to a different type of fintech or regulated company to acquire the industry experience is a good career strategy," Brush recommends.

The good news is that Brush believes the legal job market is active overall and lawyers are enjoying the dynamics of a buyer's market. "The rise of blockchain technology has added a new level to the hiring activity, which will continue to increase as this market matures," she explains.

For in-house counsel who are interested in transitioning to careers in the blockchain industry, now is the time to answer the call.

About the Author

Olga V. MackOlga V. Mack, Career and Technology columnist for ACCDocket.com, is a technology strategist who enjoys advising her clients on success and growth. Currently vice president of strategy at Quantstamp and former general counsel at ClearSlide. She previously worked at Zoosk, Visa Inc., Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. She is a passionate advocate for women and has founded the WomenServeOnBoards.com movement. @OlgaVMack


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