Michelle Ann Gitlitz has joined Crowell & Moring’s New York office to lead its global Blockchain and Digital Assets practice. Her addition strengthens the firm’s ability to counsel clients, both emerging and established businesses, on the legal and regulatory issues that arise when clients invest in and incorporate blockchain technology and digital assets into their businesses.
Gitlitz founded and co-led Blank Rome LLP’s Blockchain Technology and Digital Currencies Group. She advises clients on the legal, regulatory, and risk management issues surrounding coin/token offerings, including: launching new offerings and remediating prior offerings; working with clients in connection with digital currency exchanges/platforms; establishing new blockchains and nodes; and advising clients on navigating federal and state money transmission laws. Gitlitz also has experience handling federal and state government regulatory inquiries and enforcement actions relating to financial services, securities, and disclosure issues.
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Gitlitz is widely respected as a leader in the area of distributed-ledger technology. She was among those in the legal industry who early on recognized that coin/tokens offered to investors could be treated as securities falling under the purview of the Securities Exchange Commission. She also has experience in virtual currency money transmission and authored, “An Introduction to Virtual Currency Money Transmission Regulation” in the Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Regulation, a treatise published annually and soon to be released in 2020 by Global Legal Insights. She is a board member of the MIT Computation Law Report and a member of and contributor to the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance and the Digital Chamber of Commerce. She also founded and serves as president and director of Diversity in Blockchain, Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to creating equal, open, and inclusive opportunities in the blockchain industry. In recognition of her leadership, The National Law Journal and The New York Law Journal named Gitlitz a Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Fintech Trailblazer last year.
“Michelle’s innovative practice will be of great value to our technology and financial services clients, as well as any client launching or changing its business to adapt to emerging technology trends,” said Philip T. Inglima, chair of Crowell & Moring. “Michelle’s work with payment companies in the cryptocurrency space, blockchain nodes, mining and staking operations, coin/token issuers, and cryptocurrency hedge funds give her the ability to translate complex technical issues to clients and regulators to achieve stellar results for her clients,” he added.
“Business is changing rapidly due to the invention and adoption of innovative technology,” Gitlitz said. “Clients need law firms that understand these changes and can assist both emerging and established companies with implementing technological solutions in an efficient and legally compliant manner. Crowell & Moring is at the forefront of advising clients with digital transformation and is building the best team available to help clients with this transition. The firm provides me the opportunity to grow my practice while continuing to provide my clients with the best regulatory, corporate, and litigation counsel possible.”
Gitlitz is the latest hire in the firm’s New York office. Tax and Litigation partner S. Starling Marshall; Labor partner Eric Su; and Cybersecurity and Data privacy partner Jarno Vanto, joined the office earlier this year, following the 2018 addition of the New York Health Care practice, which included a nine-lawyer team led by partners Paul Mourning, Stephanie Marcantonio, Kathy Hirata Chin, and Brian McGovern, and the arrival of Advertising and Media litigation partner Holly Melton. Other recent additions include Brian Paul Gearing, Ph.D., partner in the Intellectual Property Group; Paul Freeman, senior counsel in the Environment and Natural Resources and Government Contracts groups; Rebecca Ricigliano, a former federal prosecutor and First Assistant Attorney General of New Jersey and a partner in the White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement Group; and Juan A. Arteaga, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Enforcement at the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and now a partner in the firm’s Antitrust Group.
“Our New York office is on a roll,” said Glen G. McGorty, managing partner of the firm’s New York office. “As someone who saw the blockchain and digital asset wave coming early on, Michelle’s experience bolsters our ability to advise clients on blockchain and other distributed-ledger technology. We’re thrilled to have her, especially so close on the heels of the addition of tax litigator Starling Marshall.”