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Justin S. Wales

Justin Wales is a partner at the firm’s Los Angeles and Miami offices. A nationally recognized leader in the blockchain and virtual currency industry, his practice focuses on the rapidly evolving legal and regulatory issues impacting decentralized technologies including cryptocurrencies, decentralized financial (DeFi) platforms, smart contracts, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other related technologies.

An early advocate for the blockchain and virtual currency industry, Justin previously served as the founder and chair a national law firm’s blockchain and virtual currency practice group since 2014. He has experience representing a wide range of clients in the space including cryptocurrency exchanges, money transmitters payment processors, DeFi platforms and protocols. He also advises clients on corporate, fundraising and regulatory matters, including international corporate structuring, executing compliant token offerings, regulatory compliance including with state money transmission rules and federal regulations including those imposed through the SEC, CFTC, and FinCEN. He speaks and writes often about the intersection between law and technology and authors the premier treatise, published by Thomson Reuters, on the application of state rules on blockchain and virtual currency businesses.

Justin is also an experienced litigator who serves as defense counsel for his financial services or cryptocurrency clients. He successfully litigated one of the first DeFi cases in the country and has also litigated First Amendment and trade secret cases. He is the author of Bitcoin is Speech: Notes Toward Developing the Conceptual. Contours of Its Protection Under the First Amendment.

  • "State Regulations on Virtual Currency and Blockchain Technologies (Updated)" recognized as a Top Article in Finance & Banking, Securities by the 2020 JD SupraReaders Choice Awards
  • Florida Trailblazers, Daily Business Review (2019)
  • On the Rise Award, Daily Business Review (2019)
  • “Most Fascinating People in Miami,” Miami New Times (2016)
  • Florida Rising Stars, Super Lawyers Magazine (2019–2020)
  • The Florida Bar
    • Digital Currency Task Force
  • Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA) Innovation Committee
  • City of Miami Charter Review and Reform Committee
  • Code For Miami
    • Policy Advisor: Organize and lead a brigade of civic hackers in drafting and implementing an Open Data Policy for Miami-Dade County.
  • Presenter, “Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Unpredictable Future of the Internet,” Florida Council of 100 (2019)
  • Presenter, “The First Amendment as Applied to Bitcoin and its Lightning Network,” AtlantaTABConf(2019)
  • Led roundtable on the adoption of proposed cryptocurrency-specific legislation before Florida's Office of Financial Regulation (August 16, 2018)
  • “Blockchain Technology and its Impact on Product Litigation” (Prod. Liab. Litig., 2nd ed. March 2021)
  • “You Say You Want A Bitcoin Revolution?” Coindesk (2020)
  • “Why Bitcoin Is Protected by the First Amendment” Coindesk (2020)
  • "Exponential Growth: What Research Into Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Tells Us About Law Practice Disruption" Legaltech News (Aug. 25, 2020)
  • “Noded Bitcoin Podcast with Pierre Rochard” (Aug. 13, 2020)
  • “Foreign Token Sales May Be Subject to U.S. Securities Law,” Los Angeles Lawyer (2020)
  • “Bitcoin Has A Florida Problem,” Coindesk (2020)
  • Bitcoin is Speech: Notes Toward Developing the Conceptual Contours of its Protection Under the FirstAmendment,”74 U. MIAMI L. REV. 204 (2019)
  • “Justin S. Wales on How The First Amendment Protects Bitcoin,” Bitcoin Magazine (2019)
  • “Is Cryptocurrency Money? Depends on Your State,”Longhash (2018)
  • “The US Supreme Court Just Opened the Gates to Filing Crypto Class Actions in State Courts,” Daily Business Review (2018)
  • “Bitcoin and Taxes: If Not HODLing, Consider Donating,” Forbes: Digital Money (Dec. 2017)
  • “When High-Tech Cryptocurrencies Meet Low-Tech Scammers,” Los Angeles Daily Journal (Sept. 2017)
  • “State Regulations on Virtual Currency and Blockchain Technologies,” Thomas Reuters (Quarterly, Since 2017)
  • “FUTURLAWMA: 21st Century Solutions to 31st Century Problems” 68 U. MIAMI L. REV. 87 (2013)
  • “El Salvador’s Bitcoin Legal Tender Law And Its Implications” Crypto Monday LA
  • “Exponential Growth: What Research Into Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Tells Us About Law Practice Disruption” LegalTech News
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