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Leading ICO attorney Joshua Klayman leaves Morrison Foerster, starts own firm

Klayman is now 5th of 12 top blockchain lawyers to switch jobs this year

Top ICO attorney Joshua Klayman has left her firm of five years, Morrison Foerster, to strike it out on her own. The move is the latest among leading blockchain barristers bolting for greener pastures as the industry takes off.

Klayman was a rising star at “MoFo,” where she was the founding chair of its blockchain and smart contracts group. Among the deals she worked on was the Sprint/T-Mobile merger.

In addition to her new firm, Klayman LLC, she will be consulting for global legal firm Shearman & Sterling LLP. Klayman has also started a consulting business, Inflection Point Blockchain Advisors, LLC. (IPBA’s CTO, Alex Rass, is a technical consultant and contributor to Modern Consensus).

Joshua Klayman
Joshua Klayman (yes, her name is Joshua)

“My goal is to be a true counselor—and not just a lawyer—to entrepreneurs or larger businesses who want to realize their vision,” Klayman said to Modern Consensus. “I love being around entrepreneurs because of their passion, their focus, and their drive. It says on our consulting site, ‘Blockchain promises to create trust among parties who ordinarily would not trust each other. But in this emerging, rapidly evolving and sometimes scary space, whom can you trust?’ That’s something I kept hearing from entrepreneurs and that’s why I decided to create a consulting business.”

Similar to what happened with tech attorneys during the Web 1.0 bull market or in the real estate legal world just before the financial crisis, a few other big-name blockchain lawyers have jumped ship to either get in the business or move to another firm in recent months. In November, Chambers and Partners published a list of top 12 blockchain and cryptocurrency lawyers. With Klayman’s exit from MoFo, almost half of that list now works somewhere else.

When asked to comment on that statistic, Klayman responded, “None of those who have left their previous firms have left practicing law. It just shows the tremendous opportunity this fundamental shift caused by blockchain has created.”

Chambers and Partners list of blockchain & cryptocurrency—global-wide attorneys and their law schools

LawyerSchool/YearNovember 2017June 2018
Grant P. FondoUniversity of Virginia School of Law, ‘93Goodwin
Joey GarciaBPP Law School, ‘04ISOLAS LLP
Reuben GrinbergYale, ‘11Davis Polk & Wardwell LLPIn-house counsel
Dax HansenBrigham Young University, ‘99Perkins Coie LLP
Joshua KlaymanTemple University Beasley School of Law, ‘06Morrison & Foerster LLPKlayman LLC
Brian KleinNew York University School of Law, ‘00Baker Marquart, LLP
Richard B. LevinUniversity of Denver Sturm College of Law, ‘96Polsinelli PC
Luka Müller-StuderUniversity of Zurich and Basel, ‘90MME
Patrick MurckThe Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, ‘06Cooley LLP
Marco A. SantoriUniversity of Notre Dame Law School, ‘08Cooley LLPBlockchain
Lee SchneiderAmerican University Washington College of Law, ‘91McDermott Will & Emery
Carol Van CleefAmerican University Washington College of Law, ‘91Baker & Hostetler LLPLeClairRyan

Source: Chambers and Partners, Modern Consensus

Lawrence Lewitinn, CFA was the founding editor in chief of Modern Consensus. Disclosure: Lewitinn owns no cryptocurrencies in his portfolio.