International law firm Brown Rudnick has made a number of hires to its transatlantic digital commerce practice at a time of rising demand for legal crypto expertise, a rise in litigation involving crypto assets and further regulation of digital assets in the UK.
The firm, known for successfully representing actor Johnny Depp in his recent defamation suit against his former wife, has added four new partners specialising in digital commerce, blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Stephen Palley, Matthew Richardson, Preston Byrne and Hailey Lennon have joined the firm as partners in it digital commerce practice, supporting companies, platforms in various development stages, startups, protocol developers, exchanges, financial institutions, investors, miners, and a wide range of corporations. They are also joined by associate Jeff Karas.
The group join from corporate law firm Anderson Kill, where Palley was founder and chair of the technology, media and distributed systems group. He will serve as co-chair of Brown Rudnick’s digital commerce practice.
Leading digital commerce practice
According to Brown Rudnick, which has offices in the US and Europe, the appointments will push it to the forefront of law firms advising on issues related to cryptocurrencies, digital assets and blockchain.
Vince Guglielmotti, CEO and chairman of Brown Rudnick, said: “We are delighted to welcome this team to our Firm. Our clients are increasingly in the digital asset space as founders, investors, or traditional corporate entities looking to use technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies as part of their business.
“This team of supremely talented lawyers brings the type of insights and skills that will benefit our clients by enhancing our ability to offer an end-to-end experience, particularly for those in the technology space.”
Clara Krivoy, co-chair of the firm’s digital commerce practice, adds: “Each of these new partners brings with them a wealth of experience that exponentially enhances our capabilities in the digital assets space. Not only are they world-class talent, but they will integrate seamlessly with our current team. These are exactly the kind of moves that will help us better serve our clients on a global basis.”
Explaining the move, Palley said: “My colleagues and I were drawn to Brown Rudnick because many of its practice and industry groups, particularly technology, complement our own. We look forward to working with our new colleagues to offer our clients access to a broad footprint of capabilities in the technology industry. The Firm’s deep corporate, regulatory and technology practices, as well as its footprint in the United Kingdom, will be excellent resources for existing and future clients.”
In July 2022, the Law Commission of England and Wales published a consultation paper on the recognition and protection of digital assets. The consultation paper recommends law reform to recognise a third category of personal property – referred to as ‘data objects’ – in addition to things in possession (such as physical objects) and things in action (such as contractual rights).
While the upcoming Financial Services and Markets Bill, currently going through the Commons, includes reforms such as handing power to the Treasury to create new digital asset regulatory regimes and bring certain cryptoassets within the scope of, and modify, existing regulatory frameworks.
The Law Commission is also looking into how smart legal contracts, digital assets and electronic trade documents have identified several conflict of laws issues, including ascertaining the law applicable to a dispute, and determining whether a particular court will have jurisdiction to hear a dispute in relation to a smart legal contract or digital asset.