There’s One Place Where Women Lead in Blockchain: Big Law

Women blockchain and cryptocurrency lawyers are stepping into practice leadership roles at a number of major law firms, defying expectations in two notoriously male-dominated fields, technology and law.

Women lead the blockchain practice groups in more than a half-dozen leading law firms, including Goodwin Procter, Morrison & Foerster, and McDermott Will & Emery.

That number could grow as newer female lawyers, including associates moving up the ranks, take interest in the burgeoning blockchain field.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency is still male-dominated, women lawyers say—which has sparked concerns about “boys’ club”-type behaviors, such as throwing industry conferences at strip clubs, for example. But the emergence of these technologies has given women a new opportunity to shine in Big Law, a chance many did not have in tech booms of decades past.

The world is different for women at law firms than it was during the Internet boom and dotcom bubble, when male lawyers were at the helm of the significant majority of tech-related law firm practice groups, said Judith Rinearson, who co-leads K&L Gates’s blockchain practice group.

“We’re not about to wait for someone to tell us, it’s okay to come on in,” said Rinearson. When we saw blockchain coming down the pike, we jumped on it.”

Risk Tolerance

Blockchain allows digital information to be distributed but not copied through the use of cryptography in decentralized and difficult to hack digital ledgers.

The technology was originally designed to serve as a ledger for Bitcoin and other digital currency transactions, but food suppliers, drug makers and other corporations have since adopted it for a variety of uses, including as digital supply chains that have unchangeable audit trails.

Michelle Gitlitz, global head of Crowell & Moring’s blockchain and digital assets practice, said one of several traits women who lead Big Law blockchain practices have in common is foresight.

Gitlitz and other practice group…

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