Bitcoin, Blockchain, and Paying your Lawyer
“… Bitcoin gives us, for the first time, a way for one Internet user to transfer a unique piece of digital property to another Internet user, such that the transfer is guaranteed to be safe and secure, everyone knows that the transfer has taken place, and nobody can challenge the legitimacy of the transfer. The consequences of this breakthrough are hard to overstate.”
As a law firm, we wondered about the consequences of accepting a currency that everyone knows how a client paid you. We had to wrestle with the ethical implications of joining the digital currency movement. At the end of the day and untold hours of research, CLE, and internal debate we have started accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic.
Why would an Attorney accept Bitcoin?
We accept Bitcoin and all of its cousins because they have value and we can convert it to cash so we can do things like pay our staff and buy coffee. As attorneys, we like to be paid so when asked whether we would rather be paid with bitcoin or a credit card we would choose Bitcoin. Being paid in Bitcoin seems to have a stronger guarantee that a bill will be paid than being paid by a credit card, or even taking a case on contingency, or even accepting a title to a car as payment when the quality of the car is in question. Then again if you have a ’89 Porsche 911 Cabriolet that you would like to trade for legal serves we have at least one attorney who will work with you… and another attorney will work for any RV for his family’s next summer’s road trip. Which you may have guessed this train of thought brought us to the conclusion that as long as there is value in cryptocurrencies we will accept them if we can convert them to other items that we would normally pay for with US Dollars.
What about Cryptocurrency Funding Terrorism and All the Drug Money from Silk Road?
We had to consider the anti-money laundering (AML) aspects of accepting bitcoin, along with anti-terrorist finance regulation. At the end of the day, there is a fat F. I mean the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) with their website . Which is a group of 35 financially significant countries that coordinate on money laundering matters and that ensure that equivalent legislation is in place in legal services from us, or having us assist them in buying property. Since the United States, China, and Russia are part of this group and they all have a robust system in place my firm is not all that concerned about drug money or terrorists trying to buy legal services from our law firm. We looked at the laws in New York with its Bitlicense and what was proposed laws in New Jersey were trying to accomplish, but did not pass, we developed our own internal checks to combat these issues.
What about Fraud?
As a law office we get over 14 pieces of junk mail a day related to some sort of fraud, and 2 or 3 a week that slip through our filters that then require human review. After cutting out the Nigerian Princes offering us millions of dollars, along with the please take a Million Dollars for a sales contract and only send us 200,000 Euros and the other assorted scams we feel we have a fairly good grasp on spotting fraud. If someone is trying to buy, a home in Jersey City in Bitcoin, we know at least one Jersey City Realtor that will take bitcoin for his commission. And, he too has dealt with his own various versions of fraud. …. “Oh, you have been evicted from 6 homes, but now you will bay your rent on time,]. Oh, you want to rent a house for your ex-wife but do not want to but down a damage deposit, Oh, you want to live here for a year and then you will decide to buy.” (Okay, the last one wasn’t him, it was based on a story told by a driver in Lisboa about someone trying to buy a place in Portugal, so everyone can see through these types of schemes given time. )
So, if you need a New York or New Jersey attorney willing to accept Bitcoin, or need help in buying property in Jersey City, NJ in Bitcoin we can help.