Legal Services for Technology Clients
In recent years, we’ve developed a small, but growing legal practice in certain innovative areas of technology, including cryptocurrencies, distributed ledgers (Blockchain and Hashgraph). And, as they move from concept to execution, we anticipate smart contracts being a large part of our world. This part of our law practice comes out of our broader technology law practice. So, let’s start there before talking about these more cutting-edge areas.
Our Technology Background (Why We Are Technology Lawyers)
We represent a lot of technology clients. Brett was a venture capitalist during Dotcom 1.0 and can talk somewhat intelligently about most technology concepts (admittedly, not all) – certainly enough to understand and proficiently navigate the intersection of law and technology. And, being lawyers based in Austin, Texas, working with startups means there are a lot of clients out there.
Brett almost ended up “in tech.” When he was a boy, he programmed computers. Back then, he was using a special version of BASIC on a Radio Shack TRS 80 computer. Was he ever into it! He’d develop in-depth, word-based role-playing games and was even able to create a graphic version of a game that looked something like Space Invaders. And, he spent hours as a kid on CompuServe – one precursor to today’s Internet.
In college, Brett was briefly a Computer Sciences major (in 1990, we were programming in COBOL and it was a huge process to run a program!). In the end, he majored in Economics. Brett has always been fascinated with business. Economics scratched that itch and he hasn’t programmed since.
Though his life today is more about words (law) than it is about numbers (economics and programming), Brett gets a good taste of tech vicariously through our clients. And, he misses the logic and creativity programming requires. Creating a contract from scratch has similar elements, although it’s not entirely the same.
Services We Provide as Technology Lawyers
You may have heard the label, “technology attorney.” But, what exactly is a technology lawyer? Usually that label refers to a corporate (business) attorney – someone who creates contracts, negotiates deals and is generally involved in business transactions. There are litigators who specialize in technology, although we’re the former – corporate lawyers, not litigators.
Among the services we provide to technology clients (startups and more mature companies) are:
- Drafting intellectual property licensing agreements, software as a service (SasS) agreements, privacy policies, terms & conditions (Ts&Cs), development agreements and more
- Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of technology companies – due diligence, negotiation, drafting and closing purchases and sales of companies
- Setting up joint ventures (domestic and international)
- Structuring venture capital and angel investment financing rounds, including stock/equity purchases, subscription agreements and convertible notes
Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
After we took on my second bitcoin mining operation client, a couple of colleagues started referring to us as Bitcoin lawyers. We’re not sure that’s the right label, although we’ve been called worse things!
We love cryptocurrencies and what they represent for the decentralization movement. We’re not just talking about Bitcoin – Ethereum, Litecoin and many others have a clear role to play in this new ecosystem. Granted, it’s the very early innings, so there will inevitably be a lot of change and development. Overall, though, we are bullish on the major cryptocurrencies. If you want to read more about Brett’s philosophical views of Bitcoin (and Blockchain), read Trump Won’t Kill America. Bitcoin Will Kill America.
As for initial coin offerings (ICOs), this, too, is a fascinating space. It’s developing daily, which makes being lawyers who advise on ICOs an interesting, ever-changing adventure!
Specific services we provide related to cryptocurrencies include:
- Structuring founder relationships and forming entities for cryptocurrency mining operations and related services
- Advising on initial coin offerings, including securities law compliance
- Providing guidance and services for private placements, venture capital investments and angel investor financing rounds
- Forming crypto-asset hedge funds and providing related compliance advice (registered investment adviser and commodity pool operator regulations)
Blockchain and Other Distributed Ledger Technologies
Behind many of these cryptocurrencies (and other tokens) is the game-changing technology called Blockchain. Many have crowned Blockchain the greatest technological innovation since the Internet.
Blockchain is best described as a distributed ledger – a vast network of continuously updated digital records. It has huge implications for decentralization. It’s already disrupting many industries, including banking and insurance.
However, Blockchain isn’t the only game in town. Hashgraph is a distributed ledger system, although it’s far more efficient and consumes less energy than Blockchain, leading many to predict it, not Blockchain, is the future of distributed ledger technology.
Our services as Blockchain attorneys are similar to the services we list above under Bitcoin, Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – forming entities and structuring founder relationships, providing securities law and other advice for ICOs and helping clients raise capital through private equity, venture capital and angel investments.
A topic that’s getting a lot of attention these days is smart contracts. First introduced to the World in 1996 by Nick Szabo, smart contracts are a computer protocol (kind of like a program) that facilitate, verify and enforce the performance of a contract. They’re also sometimes called self-executing contracts. The Ethereum Blockchain is built to layer smart contracts and other applications on top of it.
Taking contracts from paper to the Blockchain has just started. Right now (at the time of writing in 2017), we have only begun to touch the surface of smart contracts. Soon, lawyers will need to be adept at taking concepts from paper to programming (at that point, we won’t be called Bitcoin lawyers or Blockchain attorneys – everyone will be something similar!). The lawyers won’t be doing the programming, of course, although they’ll need to work closely with groups who can turn a regular contract into a smart contract. With Brett’s background, programming BASIC on a Radio Shack TRS80 circa 1982 (we’re sure it’ll be helpful! LMAO), we intend to be at the forefront of this movement!
If you have a Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency, Blockchain or other technology startup (or more mature company) and need some legal help with partner/founder formation matters, raising capital (including ICOs) or otherwise, get in touch with us. We have offices in Austin and Houston, although we have clients all over. And, we accept Bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies!