At the end of April, in Paris, four lawyers are doing their big oral. On the program, a presentation to be made on non-fungible tokens, these digital property certificates registered in the blockchain (NFT in English). To win their ticket to the final, they first worked on taxation or the regulatory risks of metaverses, these virtual universes. Rest assured if you do not understand anything: lawyers and jurists who are interested in legal issues around cryptoassets are still quite rare. In France, only a handful of firms have really specialized in this theme. But this field which today interests students – around a hundred of them have registered for the competition – has become a flourishing niche activity. “It’s a dynamic market: we multiplied our activity by seven last year”, observes William O’Rorke, of the firm Orwl, at the origin of this competition called “Unchain the law”.
Because thirteen years after the creation of the first block in the Bitcoin chain, which kick-started the cryptocurrency boom, these cryptography-based digital assets have become mainstream. Their weight in the economy is not negligible, with a total capitalization which currently amounts to approximately 1,200 billion dollars. In Paris, four firms have become essential on legal issues related to these assets. These are Gide Loyrette Nouel, Fieldfisher France, Kramer Levin and Orwl lawyers. But there are more generally about fifteen firms really invested in the theme.
An activity driven by fundraising
It has been roughly five years since legal activity around cryptoassets took off. “It was the ICOs, the fundraising in cryptocurrency that really pushed the legal activity,” recalls Hubert de Vauplane, partner at Kramer Levin. An activity that is always important, like this fundraiser…