Notoriously male dominated fields such as technology and law are seeing a serious shift towards a more inclusive future. Female lawyers are stepping into leadership positions in major law firms and advising on blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFTs.
The world is different for women at law firms now than it was during the Internet boom, when male lawyers were at the helm of the significant majority of tech-related law firm practice groups. Today, many female lawyers are working tirelessly to usher a new era of diversity into the world of blockchain law. They see the potential to build this new system differently so more women and minorities can enter the $3 trillion market. One such lawyer is 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.”
Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that can be held as investments or used to buy goods and services. Whereas blockchain allows digital information to be distributed but not copied through the use of cryptography in decentralized and difficult to hack digital ledgers. Non-Fungible Tokens (AKA, NFTs) are a type of asset which uses blockchain to record ownership of digital items such as images, videos and collectibles.
The cryptocurrency industry is unlike several other technology and financial industries. We are seeing more and more female founders and leaders of blockchain companies. Kinjal Shah who is a senior associate at Blockchain Capital and an investor in the Komorebi Collective for women and nonbinary crypto founders says she sees the potential to build this new financial system differently and is wary of re-creating the original financial system and actively works against that. “I don’t want new folks entering into crypto to feel like they’re transitioning from old Wall Street to new Wall Street,” Shah said. “I want the environment to feel approachable and inclusive.”
According to experts, more women leading blockchain companies seems to be one of the reasons for the ascendance of female lawyers in the field. Joshua Klayman, who is the U.S. head of fintech and head of blockchain and digital assets for Linklaters says, “Having women lead in a field where you have critical mass is vitally important. It inspires others, and can show them, ‘You can learn this. You can do this.’”
Katie Haun who spent much of her professional life prosecuting prison gangs, corrupt officials, and the mafia, is now the first female general partner at Silicon Valley investing powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz. Haun runs the $350 million cryptocurrency fund, making her one of the most recognizable investors in the space.
With Twitter handles such as @crypto_chicks, @NFTgirl and @BTCbombshell, women NFT artists and collectors flaunt their affiliation on social media and cheer each other on. Many also support charitable causes for women and girls.
It seems more and more women want in, at least to gain an understanding of the technology and how it affects their areas of practice.
Gender disparities, like in the financial industry have dogged the legal services industry for generations, but female lawyers of today see an opportunity to shape the emerging DeFi legal world differently from the existing technology and law space. For many this means actively hiring and recruiting female lawyers and investing into their growth and transition into becoming leaders in this space.