Brian Klein is an accomplished trial attorney who has successfully litigated in federal and state court. His practice focuses on high-stakes criminal and regulatory defense matters and civil litigation, and he aggressively and effectively advocates for his clients in a wide variety of state and federal forums. He is a former federal prosecutor with extensive trial experience, and he is known for his superior courtroom skills. He teaches a criminal practice seminar at the USC Gould School of Law.
Brian often represents successful entrepreneurs and professionals, iconoclastic companies, celebrities, and high-profile start-ups and fast growing businesses in connection with the most important legal issues facing them whether civil, regulatory, or criminal. As an example, he successfully defended Cesar Millan (the “Dog Whisperer”) when the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control and District Attorney’s Office investigated allegations of animal abuse tied to one of Mr. Millan’s television shows. The authorities ultimately concluded Mr. Millan did nothing wrong and did not bring any charges. Based on his accomplishments, Brian has been repeatedly recognized as a “Super Lawyer,” and he is frequently sought ought by the media to comment on pressing legal issues.
He has extensive experience in the Fintech space, including representing blockchain technology and bitcoin companies, entrepreneurs, and early adopters in all types of criminal and regulatory defense matters and civil litigation (including bankruptcy proceedings). He founded and chairs the board of directors of the non-profit Digital Currency and Ledger Defense Coalition and chairs the American Bar Association’s blockchain technology and digital currency national institute, which was held this year at New York University School of Law. He serves as an advisor to BlockSeer, a blockchain analytics company, and formerly volunteered as the outside general counsel and chair of the legal advocacy committee for the Bitcoin Foundation. He speaks about Fintech around the world at, among other places, global law firms, major payments and technology companies, and industry conferences.
Brian is admitted to practice in the states of California, Washington, and New York and before numerous federal courts (including the Central and Northern Districts of California and the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York). He graduated from New York University School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington.
Representative Criminal and Civil Engagements:
- Successfully defended a digital currency trader in federal court in Colorado against an unlicensed money transmitter criminal charge, securing dismissal of the case before trial.
- Obtained a complete acquittal at a jury trial for a boxer charged with assault with a deadly weapon in state court.
- Represented Erik Voorhees, a prominent early Bitcoin adopter, in his settlement with the SEC.
- Secured from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office a declination to charge a high-profile client accused of sexual assault by someone the client met on a dating app.
- Represented a film production company in a federal action to enforce trademark rights that resulted in a settlement favorable to the client.
- Successfully defended a digital currency company in a state securities division investigation based out of the Midwest (no enforcement action was brought).
- Represented a U.S.-based technology company in a contract dispute with an Australian entertainment company that resulted in a settlement favorable to the client.
- Successfully defended a hazardous waste cleanup company facing multiple state criminal charges, securing dismissal of all charges before trial.
Publications and Selected Speaking Engagements:
- “Initial Coin Offerings: Where the SEC Might Stand, Coindesk (co-authored with Kobre & Kim), June 16, 2017
- “The Fifth Amendment and Bitcoin: Why the Battle is About to Begin,” Coindesk, February 18, 2016
- “The CFTC’s Not-So-Hidden Message: Traders Beware,” Coindesk (co-authored with Sidley Austin), October 3, 2015
- “Does 18 U.S.C. § 1960 create felony liability for bitcoin businesses,” Coin Center, July 21, 2015
- “Why The SEC Delay Over Crowdfunding Rules Is Stifling Bitcoin Innovation,” Coindesk (co-authored with McGuireWoods), June 13, 2014
- “US Tax Man Speaks For The First But Not Last Time,” Coindesk (co-authored with Sideman & Bancroft), April 6, 2014
- “Treasury Department Wary of Virtual Currencies,” The Daily Journal, April 10, 2013
- Moderator, Legal & Policy Workshop on Regulatory and Enforcement Developments, Consensus 2017, New York, NY May 2017
- Speaker, “Game Changers (Bitcoin),” Defense Research Institute’s Annual Conference, Seattle, WA, June 2017
- Guest Lecturer, “Digital Currency, Blockchains, and the Future of the Financial Services Industry,” New York University School of Law and Stern School of Business, May 2017
- Speaker, “Innovation vs. Regulation: Fintech’s Evolving Global Regulatory Landscape,” Seoul, South Korea, December 2016
- Panelist, “Law Enforcement & Anonymous Transactions,” Consensus 2016, New York, NY, May 2016
- Speaker, “Bitcoin Moves Into the Mainstream,” Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (Los Angeles Chapter), Los Angeles, CA, September 2015
- Panelist, “Enforcement Today – Case Examples,” The American Bar Association’s National Institute on Bitcoin and Other Digital Currencies, Washington, D.C., June 2015
- Panelist, “21st Century Tools for Design, Delivery and Payment of Goods and Content,” International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition Annual Spring Meeting, San Diego, California, April 2015
- Panelist, Regulatory Compliance Issues and Law Enforcement Efforts, MecklerMedia’s Inside Bitcoins Conferences, Berlin, Germany, March 2015 (and February 2014); Las Vegas, Nevada, October 2014 (and December 2013); London, England, September 2014; New York, New York, April 2014 (and April 2015); Hong Kong, China, May 2015; Chicago, Illinois, July 2015; Seoul, Korea, December 2015; and San Diego, California, December 2015
- Guest Lecturer, “The Law and Business of Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies,” New York University School of Law, November 2014
- Speaker, “Game Changers (Bitcoin),” Defense Research Institute’s Annual Conference, San Francisco, California, October 2014
- Moderator, “Keynote Debate: Bitcoin” (Barry Silbert of SecondMarket, Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Director of FinCEN), Future: Mobile 2014, San Francisco, California, June 2014
- Panelist, “Perspectives on Government Relations,” Bitcoin 2014: Building the Digital Economy (the Bitcoin Foundation), Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 2014
- Panelist, “Regulatory and Legal Challenges,” CoinSummit 2014, San Francisco, California, March 2014
- Panelist, “Information Governance & eDiscovery,” Intermountain eDiscovery Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 2013
- Co-Presenter with Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, “Bitcoins Move Into the Mainstream,” Dropbox, San Francisco, California, July 2013
- Panelist, "Issues of Regulatory Compliance," Bitcoin 2013: The Future of Payments (Bitcoin Foundation), San Jose, California, May 2013
Professional Associations and Memberships:
- American Bar Association
- National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
- Los Angeles County Bar Association
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