D.C. law firm makes new blockchain play

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Washington law firm Steptoe and Johnson is launching a major play in the blockchain space, expanding its advice and other offerings about the revolutionary new ‘distributed ledger’ technology across all business sectors.

The firm already offers advice and services to ‘almost every part of the bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem,’ Steptoe attorney Alan Cohn told FedScoop. Now they will expand those offerings ‘to serve companies across the economy as a whole … who are looking to make use of this transformative technology.’

The new play is grounded in a belief in the revolutionary consequences of blockchain, or distributed ledger — the technology that underlies the bitcoin crypto-currency.

‘We believe we’re looking at a new layer of technology that could be as powerful as the commercial internet was 20 or more years ago,’ said Cohn. ‘We see blockchain and distributed ledger doing for commerce, for the transmission of value and for other high-trust interactions, exactly what the commercial internet did for content and communication, for the transmission of data.’

‘We believe there’ll be the same kind of exponential growth associated with it,’ he said.

In October last year, Steptoe was one of the co-founders of the Blockchain Alliance, a coalition of blockchain companies and law enforcement and regulatory agencies aiming to promote the new technology ‘and protect public safety by educating enforcement agencies about digital currencies and the blockchain, and helping combat criminal activity involving this technology,’ according to the company. The coalition now includes more than two dozen companies law enforcement and regulatory entities around the world, including Europol and Interpol.

Cohn, a former Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary who helped set up DHS’ cyber policy office, will lead Steptoe’s renewed blockchain effort alongside former Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, who headed the DOJ’s cybercrime and organized crime enforcement efforts.

The firm will offer to answer questions like, ‘How is the regulatory and legal regime which governs my industry applicable to blockchain? How will it evolve in response? How do I need to adapt?’ according to Cohn.

As part of the expansion, the firm is launching the Steptoe Blockchain Blog, which will feature opinions and analysis on developments in the new tech’s applications.

The firm doesn’t currently accept Bitcoin as payment, but plans to soon, according to a statement.

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