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I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Han, a tax attorney at Royse Law Firm in Menlo Park, CA. Ms. Han currently leads Royse Law Firm’s Initial Coin Offering (ICO) practice. In addition to advising clients, she regularly writes and speaks on the topics of ICOs and blockchain technology.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thank you for the opportunity. There are a lot of notable individuals in this space, so I’m honored to share my story. As someone who was born and raised in the Silicon Valley, the technology industry has always been an integral part of my life.
As a tax attorney, my experience and perspective on the blockchain industry is probably a bit different than most. My work has primarily been on the legal front of the rapidly evolving industry. Although much of my involvement has been non-technical, I do have an understanding and appreciation for the underlying technology. As the technology continues to gain traction and mainstream acceptance, the importance of competent legal counsel has become readily apparent. This is especially true for the countless entrepreneurs and startups who are hoping to use blockchain technology as an alternative to traditional fundraising or those looking to integrate the underlying technology into preexisting businesses.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
I’m fortunate to work with a number of entrepreneurs and startups in this space. While I can’t disclose specific details, many of them are working on some interesting projects.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’m extremely grateful to my parents. As immigrants from South Korea, they worked extremely hard to provide for our family. Without them, I don’t think I would have had the same work ethic or drive that has helped me find success in this career.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
There is a lot to be excited about in this space.
- Increased transactional efficiency. It will be interesting to see how the technology will be integrated into and affect business transactions and supply chains — especially across international borders.
- Increased transparency. This is probably one of the most commonly touted benefits of blockchain technology. It’s going to be interesting to see how this impacts data collection and data protection.
- Global impact. The potential applications of this technology span beyond any single industry or geographical region.
- Low barriers to entry. I believe this technology is entrepreneur friendly. This is great for innovation.
- Room for Growth. Blockchain is still has room to grow. I expect to see this technology used to create new verticals or modify preexisting markets.
What are the 5 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why
While I’m interested in seeing how this technology will be integrated into established and traditional business sectors and whether convertible virtual currencies will be part of everyone’s day-to-day, I do have some concerns.
- Regulatory Ambiguity. The lack of promulgated guidance from US regulatory agencies with respect to how companies are utilizing this technology in their business ventures makes it difficult for companies and their legal advisors to properly assess all potential risks before, during, and after the ICO process.
- “Show me the money.” Some companies are rushing to conduct ICOs, even if it isn’t practical for their particular business. They tend to become fixated upon reading that ICO funding in the first quarter of 2018 reached $6.3 billion. This can lead to wasted time and capital.
- Lack of due diligence. In a similar fashion, investors are rushing to invest in companies that they haven’t thoroughly vetted or that have no cohesive business model to justify the contribution of capital, which these investors will lose if the ICO sponsor decides to scrap the business idea.
- Rampant Speculation. The cryptocurrency market is volatile and those that invest a majority of their savings in this market could find themselves with a large capital loss they can use to offset capital gain and ordinary income in the future.
- Security. Most proponents of Blockchain state it is practically impossible to hack. Nothing is impossible (e.g., November 8, 2016).
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I am a service provider and an advocate for my clients. My goal is to competently and efficiently advise my clients on the legal implications that pertain to their particular situation at hand, whatever that may be, and adamantly advocate for them when needed and/or necessary. I am not sure if my success has directly brought goodness to the world, but I try and keep people out of jail, so that may count for something.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
1. A background in the food service and hospitality industry can be extremely helpful. As an attorney, interpersonal communication skills are important and vital if you want to be a competent advisor to your clients.
2. It’s important to stay current on emerging technologies. Falling behind can make it difficult to stay relevant in your particular practice area.
3. Become an active member of the community. Attend events, learn from industry experts, and contribute to the conversation.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
It would be a pleasure to meet John Oliver. I was nodding and chuckling while enjoying his segment on cryptocurrencies (#RESPONSIBILITY). Last Week Tonight, appropriately labeled as “investigative comedy,” is a satisfying mix of digestible explanations of what is going on in the world around us, with a not-so-subtle hint of “this is absurd if you really think about what is going on”, and a healthy dose of “you (yes, you) can and should do something about it.”