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Law firm Steptoe announces multidisciplinary blockchain practice
International law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP has announced that it is expanding its industry-leading blockchain practice into a full-fledged, multidisciplinary practice designed to help clients in all industries learn more about and prepare for the application of the “blockchain,” and distributed ledger technology more generally, to their businesses.
This expanded practice is led by the well-known blockchain and FinTech team of former Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein and former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Alan Cohn. Together, they will be working with professionals from across Steptoe’s practice groups in industries that are or could be applying this technology to improve their operations. The full-service blockchain practice has the ability to advise industries, companies and governments that are just learning about how the development of distributed ledger technology can be applied to their sector, or who are ready to take the next step in applying this technology to their activities.
"We are expanding from serving as counsel to blockchain companies, to serving as counsel to companies affected by the blockchain," said Weinstein. “What we’re experiencing here is similar to the early stages of the Internet in the 1990’s. The blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the way the world does business, and the applications for this technology are endless.”
According to the official announcement, Steptoe’s expanded blockchain practice features experienced lawyers and professionals in a number of industries that will be impacted by blockchain technology in the coming years. This includes representatives from the firm’s Energy, Transportation, Insurance, Financial Services, Intellectual Property, Corporate, International Regulation and Compliance, International Trade, Government Contracts, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Tax, Cyber, and Government Investigations and Enforcement groups. It also includes representatives from the firm’s London, Brussels, and Beijing offices.
“Steptoe has been a leader in this industry since day one. With Alan and Jason, we already had one of the best-regarded blockchain teams of any major law firm,” said Steptoe Chair Phil West. “By combining our firm’s blockchain experience with seasoned lawyers across industry sectors, Steptoe believes it can provide a unique set of services to a wide array of clients, helping them not only understand this technology but also determine the feasibility of applying this technology in their business and sector, and ultimately, utilizing this technology in the most efficient, secure manner in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.”
Steptoe serves as an advisor to both Coin Center and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, two of the industry’s leading advocacy groups, and Weinstein serves on the advisory board of BitFury. In October 2015, along with the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center, Steptoe co-founded the Blockchain Alliance, a coalition of blockchain companies and law enforcement and regulatory agencies that aims to promote the growth of the industry and protect public safety by educating enforcement agencies about digital currencies and the blockchain, and helping combat criminal activity involving this technology.
In addition, Steptoe is representing companies in investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and other government agencies. The firm is also advising financial institutions on anti-money laundering compliance issues relating to digital currencies, advising the world’s largest blockchain transaction processing company, advising retailers on digital currency and blockchain issues, and advising venture capital firms on regulatory issues involving the blockchain.
As part of the expansion of Steptoe’s blockchain practice, the firm has launched the Steptoe Blockchain Blog, which will feature opinions and analysis tracking the trajectory of the blockchain. In addition, the firm also announced that it will soon accept Bitcoin as payment for fees.