The legal market is constantly evolving and responding to the needs of clients and the market and now, it seems that its turning its attention to blockchain.
One of the most prominent, well-respected attorneys in the field is Marco Santori. In addition to providing clients with representation and guidance, he travels to industry events, maintains a Twitter presence, and even became the chief legal officer of a digital currency wallet company.
Even though Santori’s work sounds glamorous, it requires a lot of work. His title as “chief” at a blockchain company is, as he states, an “obviously [ ] aspirational title in that I’m not chief of much right now.” Rather, he is the face of the company and he handles core legal tasks such as regulations analysis and intellectual property work.
Further, while some would expect that Santori had built his background in some exciting ventures before heading to a crypto-related field, to the contrary – his careers has been quite traditional. Five years ago, Santori worked in commercial litigation at a medium-sized firm.
According to Joshua Ashley Klayman, founder of Klayman LLC and CEO of Inflection Point Blockchain Advisors, a well known blockchain and cryptocurrency lawyer, “If you’re going to look at the OGs, so to speak, in the blockchain space, time is all relative and none of this has been going on that long, but Marco is certainly on that list . . . Marco’s name is synonymous with blockchain.”
As previously mentioned, Santori’s career has been quite traditional. Now in his mid-30s, Marco Santori grew in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from Notre Dame Law School after attending undergrad. After law school, Santori worked at New York firm Olshan Grundman, now known as Olshan Frome Wolosky, in the area of securities litigation. Thereafter, he worked on corporate litigation at another firm. In 2012, Santori started venturing into bitcoin.
As Santori stated:
“There were people – and there were frankly lawyers – that were on this before I was . . . Being a money services lawyer is, at heart, a series of quiet conversations.” Santori eventually completed his first crypto project and soon, word of mouth spread and he became known as a crypto attorney.
Even as Marco Santori entered the crypto world, it wasn’t without its trials. One of the most challenging areas concerning the future viability of cryptocurrency arose after the U.S. Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published a guidance document. The document identified all bitcoin miners are “money services” and as a result, they were subjected to several regulations.
As Santori puts it,
“That was one of the breaking issues in this industry. . . It was the Bitcoin Foundation of 2013 that is responsible for bitcoin still being legal is the U.S. and Europe and most of the major jurisdictions in the world.” Lawson Baker, a blockchain lawyer and technology investor further added, “It took firms and people like Marco to get where we are today.”
Today, in his current role, Marco Santori focuses on determining methods for blockchain to grow and to remain in an unregulated space. The platform that he works for is looking to provide users with the software that they need to buy and mange cryptocurrencies in a more efficient manner.
Santori adds that, “It’s not important that we stay unregulated; it is important that if we become regulated, it happens on our timeline.” Further, when asked advice that he would give lawyers interested in getting into the space, Santori pressed upon the importance of social media, not just Twitter. Social media platforms worth exploring are Slack and Telegram because a lot of the business in the industry takes place on those platforms.
Finally, when it comes to becoming a corporate counsel, it is necessary to build a book of business – as most attorneys know. At the end of the day, Santori stated, “That’s what should motivate people. It’s more of a marathon, and less of a treadmill.”