Neil Mathew is an experienced cryptocurrency investor/trader and has followed the sector for years. He has contributed to some of the most well-known blockchain/cryptocurrency media outlets in the world, including CCN, BTCManager, Coingeek, Altcoin Buzz, as well as leading financial media, including Yahoo Finance and Seeking Alpha.
There is a tremendous amount of controversy about cryptocurrency and the way that it should be regulated throughout the world. While Bitcoin was downplayed for years, it seems clear that cryptocurrencies – and blockchain in general – might actually have the ability to revolutionize the way that human beings do business and interact with each other.
The cryptocurrency bull run of 2017 certainly woke up many individuals and businesses to the potential of blockchain and the idea that cryptocurrencies might one day be mainstream. Of course, lawyers are in an interesting place with regards to the cryptocurrency markets, as they are forced to adapt to the changing laws and political climates of their respective countries.
Nicholas Wooldridge is a star attorney that started his own Las Vegas practice in 2015, but he is internationally renowned. We sat down with Mr. Wooldridge to speak about what he thinks about blockchain, how he became interested in becoming a lawyer, and how he optimizes his life to make sure that he can focus on his clients as much as possible. I also had the pleasure of asking him more personal questions, as well.
I contacted Mr. Wooldridge for an interview because I have been following the cryptocurrency space for a long time, and wanted to hear about his thoughts on regulation and find out more about a man that has handled some really high-profile cases.
When did you first hear about Bitcoin, and did you ever think it would become what it is today?
I actually didnt hear about Bitcoin until I had a client whose case involved Bitcoin holdings. I knew that law enforcement was seizing cryptocurrency holdings because they associated it with drug marketplaces at the time. This was several years ago.
Law enforcement was actually pocketing the cryptocurrency for themselves while accusing individuals of cyber crime and/or fraud. Often times, these cases involved millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. I understood the potential immediately for the sector, but had no idea how popular Bitcoin – or cryptocurrency – would become.
Have you invested in cryptocurrency? Can you tell us about your experience, if so?
I am quite conservative in my choices – I have purchased Bitcoin, but I do not hold any altcoins. My law practice takes up a tremendous amount of time, so I cant daytrade at all. I do concentrate on event-based investing, and adjusting to public sentiment. Im no expert trader, but I do know that timing is essential, and try to plan my entries and exits accordingly.
You have handled some of the most high-profile cases in recent American history. How do you handle the attention that often comes with these cases? Does it ever overwhelm you?
First and foremost, its not really about the attention that comes with a case; I am primarily focused on my client and their interests. Its my job to protect my client and its also about potentially acquitting my client.
One of the issues with media attention is that there are some lawyers that actually court the spotlight, and end up trying to fight the case in the court of public opinion. In my view, there are very few situations where a defense attorney should be speaking with the media. For the most part, lawyers should only speak with the media for a press release or right after the government releases details about a case.
Unfortunately, the media often supports both the government and law enforcement, and has their back. After all, the media often obtains information through these entities, and this allows the government and/or law enforcement to control the media narrative. Media outlets are often quick to conform with this narrative, with the defendant often categorized as a villain.
Its better to save my clients story for the courtroom. After all, its rare (almost never) that the media actually supports the defendants narrative.
The media attention certainly doesnt overwhelm me. As an attorney, I have learned how to remain calm and not react in an emotional way regarding the media or public interest in the case.
How do you think blockchain technology can transform the legal sector?
I think its already doing so! First of all, its not like we only deal with cybercriminals. Many people still believe that blockchain is often used for criminals and scammers. The truth is that we represent many high-profile clients that are eager to start their own ICOs (initial coin offerings), implement a compliance program of some sort, or get involved with the cryptocurrency markets in some form or fashion.
I still feel like we are scratching the surface of blockchain. This technology will reshape the world, in my opinion. I already use several legal apps driven by blockchain, so the change is tangible. Its really just a matter of time before blockchain is utilized by every sector and/or industry that you can imagine.
Since Wooldridge was so forthcoming about why he became a lawyer, and what it means to him – I decided to pivot and speak more about cryptocurrency, blockchain, and cybersecurity. Here is how the conversation unfolded…
Do you have a guess as to who Satoshi Nakomoto is, or is it not that important to you?
This is the second biggest mystery for me (the first is the origin of the Easter Island statues)! Satoshi has left such an immense legacy that it would be incredible if it was just one individual. It is especially interesting given the fact that his Bitcoin is still dormant, and he never cashed out, as they say.
What do you think about how cybercrime has affected world politics recently? Any specific thoughts on what should or can be done?
It affects politics in the sense that its a new form of economic warfare. This is a constantly changing landscape and its very difficult for countries to stay abreast of the latest and newest ways to steal from one another. With regards to how it should be handled; I believe that countries need to stay on top of the technology and latest developments to be able to counter these economic attacks.
Germany recently decided to reject stablecoins, even though there are many young Germans interested in investing in cryptocurrency. What do you think about this decision?
Germany has a powerful economy and it seems like the youth is embracing cryptocurrency more than the older generations. That certainly isnt limited to Germany. I think that we might see many countries reversing course on their anti-cryptocurrency stance in the near future.
Is cryptocurrency regulation stifling innovation? How do we allow for innovation while still protecting investors?
That’s a tough question to answer and it can be a tough balance to find. I do know that being overly restrictive never helps anything. However, transparent regulations and compliance enforcement enables investors to choose wisely.
Do you have any personal feelings about how cryptocurrency should be taxed?
Remember, I am from Nevada, so I prefer zero tax (smiles).
Do you accept crypto as a form of payment, or no?
We proudly do, and are happy about that decision.
It would be very difficult to deny that blockchain will change the finance world in the future, given the fact that global financial institutions such as JP Morgan Chase are involved. What is another sector that you foresee improving, or being revamped, thanks to blockchain?
Blockchain revamps business as it rehumanizes it by cutting the middleman. There are a number of industries that immediately come to my mind – authentication, voting, supply chain, real estate, and many others.
Will we see a central bank cryptocurrency?
We might. I expect Estonia – the most blockchain-savvy jurisdiction – to lead the way.
Wooldridge might be a star attorney, but that doesnt mean that his work is his entire life. I asked him some additional questions about what he likes to do in his free time. Heres how he responded
You represent some really controversial clients. When its time for you, Nicholas Woolridge, to relax, what do you like to do?
With regards to relaxation, I generally enjoy spending my free time with my wife and daughter. I also believe its very important for any professional who wants to function at full capacity to focus on themselves as well and their health. How am I going to help my clients if Im not at my best? Im very involved with what I put into my body and what I do for my body.
I consume a strict vegetarian diet that includes mostly raw fruits and vegetables. I also believe exercise is extremely important. My exercise regimen consists of stretching, yoga, and hand balancing. I believe this provides me optimal health and it makes me feel amazing. This routine helps me make sure that I can provide the best possible service to my clients.
How do you think yoga has improved your life?
Yoga has improved my life tremendously. There are well-documented physical benefits of yoga, but there are also mental and psychic benefits. These benefits come through visualization, meditation, and an ability to remain calm and not react. Its a journey, and Im still working on those parts of myself. Im not a master, and I do recognize that yoga is a practice – just like law! I do believe that I am a better person thanks to yoga.
Yoga is also founded on the yamas and niyamas. These are some of the ethical rules associated with yoga, and many of the same rules also transfer to the idea of ethics in law. I also believe that the real universal law is karma, and karma plays a large role in yoga.
There are situations in which individuals are able to escape justice, but I believe that karma catches up to people, whether its in this life or the next. I also believe that people often are experiencing their own karma in real-time, as a result of their decisions. It might sound crazy, but I actually believe that government and the law might be rendered obsolete if every human being truly understood and believed in karma.
Tell me more about something that you like to do in your free time.
This might not be the exciting answer that you want – but I enjoy reading. One of my favorite authors is Wayne Dyer, because the way he uses words is downright inspirational. There are all sorts of business books to read, but he has actual quotes to live by.
He also manages to get his message across in a clear and concise manner. For example, one of my favorite Wayne Dyer quotes is, If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Wow. Thats a powerful quote. On that note, Mr. Wooldridge – thanks for your time.
Thank you. Its been a pleasure.
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