An Interview with Marco A. Santori, Senior N&M Associate
On July 1, Nesenoff & Miltenberg LLP took the step to provide the option for payment in Bitcoin. The Bitcoin currency is not a new concept to this Manhattan based full-service commercial law firm as Nesenoff & Miltenberg LLP, otherwise known as “N&M”, provides legal services for Bitcoin related businesses. N&M finally made the significant step of providing clients an opportunity to pay for services with Bitcoin through BitPay Inc, the lead Bitcoin payment processing company.
Marco A. Santori, Senior N&M Associate, stated: “Manhattan law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP, is committed to providing legal counsel to businesses in the growing virtual currency space. As one of the few firms with hands on experience counseling Bitcoin clients in this evolving area, the firm will be accepting payment in Bitcoin, providing those qualified clients with the flexibility and confidence to meet their business needs.”
Bitcoin Magazine had an opportunity to speak with Marco and find out more about his involvement in the Bitcoin community. Over two years ago Marco formed a currency trading fund for a few entrepreneurs. On the side, the clients used to joke and state regarding the currency trading fund, “what they are really doing is trading Bitcoins.” Well, soon Marco found that his ratio of non-Bitcoin related businesses to Bitcoin related businesses was diminishing. Today almost all of his time is spent counseling Bitcoin related businesses. Marco represents clients in NYC and from clients all over the world: BTC Global, companies in Canada, a company in TX, companies in NYC. What used to be a comical afterthought is now a reality for Marco.
Marco has now assumed the role of a “Bitcoin lawyer”. How did he get to a position to assume such a role? Marco took the time on his own volition to learn more about the Bitcoin currency and research on Bitcoin forums and also personally get involved in Bitcoin through serving as Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation’s Regulator Affairs Committee. After having digital currency clients continue to ask if they could pay in Bitcoin, N&M finally chose to accept Bitcoin as a payment for legal services. BitPay Inc made accepting the Bitcoin currency possible for N&M.
Bitcoin Magazine had the opportunity to interview Marco to learn more of how this process unfolded:
Bitcoin Magazine : When did you first hear about and get involved in the Bitcoin currency?
Marco A. Santori: Nesenoff & Miltenberg, LLP has an established practice counseling clients in the finance and high-technology industries. In early 2011, the firm formed a foreign currency trading fund for a group of very savvy clients. The fund traded mostly Euros and US Dollars, but even back then, they would discuss how the real money would be made in trading Bitcoins. It turns out they were right.
BM: How did you first get involved in the Bitcoin currency? What makes your legal services stand out in comparison to other lawyers assisting individuals in the Bitcoin community?
MS: I have always been a technology enthusiast. I think it has mapped well onto my practice counseling businesses in the tech sector. I don’t actually remember when I purchased my first Bitcoin, but I’ve since fallen pretty deeply into the crypto-currency rabbit hole. I’m fairly certain I’ve read every bit of press coverage on digital currency published since then. I attend regular Bitcoin NYC Meetup groups dedicated specifically to Bitcoin entrepreneurship. I’ve engaged in in-depth statutory analysis, regulatory projections, and simple speculation on web forums. The firm’s clients get the benefit of that knowledge without having to pay someone to reinvent the wheel. I think that clients appreciate it when they don’t have to spend their first chunk of billable time explaining to their lawyer what the block chain is, and why an M-of-N transaction might be the solution to their regulatory concerns. That’s the kind of information the lawyer ought to be providing to the client, not the other way around.
BM: When did you first get the idea to work with clients involved in Bitcoin?
MS: As it goes with most things in the practice of law, I didn’t choose Bitcoin; Bitcoin chose me. Companies first began reaching out to me with their digital currency issues in response to my work with businesses in the tech sector. As that progressed, I was named Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation’s Regulatory Affairs Committee. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and I think clients prefer to use attorneys with an intimate knowledge of their industry.
BM: How did you make the decision to accept payment from clients in Bitcoin?
MS: The firm strives to serve its clients. That means flexibility with time – picking up the phone at midnight – and flexibility with money – accepting alternative currencies. It should come as no surprise that clients whose business is dealing in digital currency might prefer to pay their legal fees in digital currency. Paying in Bitcoin presents qualified clients with the flexibility and confidence to meet their cash flow and tax planning goals.
BM: Were there any preexisting law firms and/or businesses that inspired you to get involved in the Bitcoin currency?
MS: The inspiration to get involved with Bitcoin came, as many things in this industry come, from our clients. Bitcoin adoption is the fundamental driving force of their business models. Combine this with the fact that many clients in the space already possess substantial Bitcoin holdings, and it just makes good business sense for them to pay in Bitcoin.
BM: Where do you see your Law Firm’s involvement with Bitcoin going in a year?
MS: Digital currency law is the copyright law of the 2010s. As most lawyers recall, the revolution in computer applications and mp3 encoding resulted in an unprecedented explosion in the volume and quality of copyright law in the late 1990s and 2000s. Likewise, I anticipate substantial growth in the volume and quality of digital currency law in the coming years. Nesenoff & Miltenberg is committed to positioning itself as the law firm of choice for guidance in the digital currency space.
BM: What are your suggestions for individuals hoping to get involved with Bitcoin?
MS: As to early-stage businesses: Talk to a lawyer early on, and then run the numbers. Then run them again. Then run them again, and only then sink money and time into developing your product. That is the correct order of operation for the digital currency business. I spend hours a day speaking to entrepreneurs who have already developed a spectacularly functional and well-polished product, only to realize the cost of IP licensing and regulatory compliance means reworking key features of their business model. As to individuals: support Bitcoin businesses!
BM: If I am an individual involved in the Bitcoin community and need legal assistance, how can I get in touch with your law firm?
Bitcoin Magazine applauds N&M’s work in the Bitcoin community and additionally this next step to accept payment for legal services with the Bitcoin currency. N&M partners have blazed the trail for legal professionals and businesses to follow and learn more about the Bitcoin currency and other alternative currencies on the rise and path to prominence.