A group of lawyers from around the country are banding together to ensure that blockchain and bitcoin innovators who might fall afoul of the law or regulatory agencies — or who just need legal advice and can’t afford it — will get skilled pro bono representation.
“Law enforcement and regulatory actions relating to this technology have been steadily increasing over time and are all too often misdirected or premature,” said Brian Klein, a partner at Los Angeles-based law firm Baker Marquart LLP and chairman of the newly formed Distributed Currency & Ledger Defense Coalition, or DCLDC, which launched Monday.
“It is all too common for responsible entrepreneurs and companies to be subjected to unfair scrutiny by some federal or state agency, which, at a minimum, stifles them and broader innovation,” added Klein. The coalition has over 50 attorneys from over 40 law firms, universities, and nonprofits, Klein’s statement said, and would also submit amicus briefs “on key issues impacting [cryptocurrency and distributed ledger] technologies.”
“We want to help foster innovation in those technologies so they may be used for the betterment of society,” reads the coalition’s founding statement.
In a phone interview, Klein told Cyberscoop that the group would act as a clearinghouse for people seeking pro bono representation. But he said that the lawyers or firms providing the representation would vet any applicants themselves. The coalition “will not undertake any [vetting] itself,” he said. “Anyone who needs free legal services in connection with these technologies can contact us,” he said. “It could be a software developer who releases code impacting blockchain and gets a call from [law enforcement] … It could be someone who wants to set up a nonprofit” like a think tank.
He said the coalition’s board would decide which amicus briefs the group would submit. The board consists of several leading attorneys in the field, in addition to Klein: Jerry Brito, executive director of the Coin Center think tank, Marjorie Peerce of Ballard Spahr, Former Bitcoin Foundation general Counsel Greg Egan, Grant Fondo of Goodwin and Marcia Hofmann of Zeitgeist Law — special counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit digital rights advocacy organization.
“Since it just launched,” Klein cautioned of the coalition, “the processes and procedures will surely evolve over time.”