By Michael A. Mora |
When it comes to cryptocurrency and cannabis litigation, Velvel Freedman, a partner at Roche Freedman, has quickly become a leader in the emerging field. He advocates for clients in state, federal and international trial and appellate courts in high-risk litigation.
The Miami-based attorney spoke about the opportunities players in these two industries see right now, the regulatory problems that keep his clients up late at night, and what separates his new law firm from its competitors.
What major opportunities do you see as the country opens up in the crypto field?
As a technological solution cryptocurrency hasn’t really been limited by COVID-19. Interestingly, it’s a great example of how the crypto community’s decentralization ethos has proven the resilience of cryptocurrency from threats beyond regulations and market forces. And the trend is spreading. After navigating a highly successful IPO during the pandemic, Coinbase just announced that it’s moving to fully decentralized offices and closing its California headquarters.
What major opportunities do you see as the country opens up in the cannabis field?
We’re seeing a huge increase in the amount of capital available for mergers and acquisition deals in the cannabis space since New York went recreational in April. As the country recovers from the pandemic, more capital flows into the system, and the possibility that congress passes the SAFE Banking Act increases—which would allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies—I’m sure we’ll see many cannabis deals, and litigation from failed deals, quite shortly.
What regulatory problems keep your clients up at night?
The intersection of federal law and local regulations with the operation of both cannabis and cryptocurrency businesses is something we are regularly advising our clients about.
What’s the biggest litigation trend you’re seeing right now?
We’re seeing the legal industry leveraging technology to increase convenience and expand their reach. So for example, law firms are hiring talent to work remotely, conducting Zoom depositions, Zoom arbitration hearings, Zoom client meetings, and Zoom interviews. Courts are also trending in the same direction. We’re seeing Zoom hearings, status conferences, and I’m even set for a Zoom trial this coming August. One great benefit of this trend is that litigators in Miami, for example, can be attending weekly hearings in Los Angeles.
What do you think is the most important thing for you and perhaps other lawyers to focus on at this point in the pandemic?
Recruiting exceptional talent. We spend an incredible amount of time working on complex legal issues and trying to find creative solutions for our clients. Creating bright, talented and diverse teams with different viewpoints is a key to success. The pandemic has shown that firms can recruit from beyond their normal geographic limits. Seize the opportunity.
What distinguishes your firm from others? What makes you unique?
We bring a unique brand of creative thinking and technical expertise that’s balanced out by aggressive advocacy and strategic planning. Part of that comes from being a young firm with experienced lawyers who are interested in disrupting, and ushering in, the next generation of legal practice. We are also able to offer our clients billing arrangements that align our interests and provide value and greater predictability.
Can you cite tactics that exemplify your firm’s approach to success?
Sure. We are unafraid to take on big cases with new legal issues in emerging areas of law—or to bring our expertise to high stakes commercial litigation. On the plaintiff side, we’ve filed numerous class actions in the cryptocurrency space on innovative theories, been appointed lead counsel in numerous securities cases by courts across the country, and filed our own plaintiff side cannabis cases. For example, we had a billion-dollar lawsuit for the largest wholesale destruction of personal property in U.S. history by government entities. On the defense side, we defend publicly traded companies in cannabis litigation, high -profile complex commercial litigation, and help advise numerous cryptocurrency companies through a variety of issues. Our combined experience and creativity enables us to successfully litigate any case, anywhere, anytime.
What are the major threats to your practice, and what are you doing to adjust?
Our only real threat is growing too quickly, which we carefully monitor. We had to turn away cases in our early days, but we prefer to be selective and successful. We regularly team up with co-counsel, as needed, but as we grow to a core size, we typically handle most complex litigation on our own.