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Justin S. Wales

Justin S. Wales

Senior Counsel

Overview

Justin Wales serves as chair of the firm’s blockchain practice. He represents a wide range of blockchain, fintech and financial services clients on fundraising and regulatory matters, including executing compliant token offerings. A recognized leader in the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and early cryptocurrency adopter, Justin provides business and technical product counseling for his clients, as well as advice regarding domestic and international corporate formation options, intellectual property protection, and other general corporate matters. He speaks and writes often about the intersection between law and technology, and authors the premier treatise, published by Thomson Reuters, on the application of state rules on blockchain and virtual currency businesses.

Justin is also an experienced litigator who serves clients with constitutional and intellectual property disputes, including First Amendment, trade secret, and access to government-held information claims, as well as defense counsel for his financial services or cryptocurrency clients.

 

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Experience

Blockchain and Virtual Currency Representation

  • Represented cryptocurrency exchange in connection with corporate formation and regulatory advice, including issues relating to SEC and CFTC licensure
  • Counseled developers and entrepreneurs on the legal issues pertaining to the development and maintenance of permissionless and permissioned blockchain protocols, including regulatory and corporate advice
  • Represented digital currency exchanges and money transmitters in conducting 50-state analysis of application of state Money Transmitter rules to cryptocurrency focused businesses models.
  • Represented cryptocurrency companies before various state regulators in order to obtain or receive clarity on application of state money transmission license.
  • Advised numerous digital currency payment processor on issues pertaining to capital formation and early-stage financing, as well as corporate formation issues such as registration in foreign jurisdictions including Gibraltar, Malta, Singapore, Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Cayman Islands
  • Advised high frequency/algorithmic trading funds dealing in various digital currencies on issues related to fund formation and regulatory compliance
  • Counsel to several digital currency payment processors on anti-money laundering and know your customer compliance
  • Counseled numerous companies in conducting technical analysis, building “minimum viable ecosystems” and token design.
  • Pre-litigation and settlement counseling regarding liability associated with attempts to hard fork the Bitcoin blockchain
  • Analysis of securities and other regulatory issues related to token sales, including analysis of regulatory implications of Security Token Offerings, Initial Coin Offerings, Token Curated Registries, Air Drops, and applications utilizing the Lightning Network.
  • Provided numerous instances of litigation and regulatory mitigation strategies for completed token sales      
  • Provided analysis and privacy counseling regarding application of the GDPR and other privacy regulations to date stored on decentralized networks

First Amendment and Constitutional Representation

  • James Tracy v. Florida Atlantic University, et al., 18-10173 (appeal pending, 11th Cir.) and 16-cv-80655-Rosenberg. Appeal representing professor fired in retaliation for blogging activity and raising facial and as-applied constitutional challenges to school’s vague and viewpoint-discriminatory policy.
  • Maggy Hurchalla v. Lake Point Phase I & II, (appeal pending, Fla. 4th DCA). Representing environmentalist sued for petitioning government regarding concerns about environmental impacts of development project.
  • Root v. C. Steven McMillan, John A. Youmans, New Country Motor Cars of Palm Beach, LLC d/b/a Ferrari of Palm Beach, and New Country Motor Car Group, Inc., No. 50-2016-CA-008921 (Fla. Cir. Ct.) (pending) Counsel to Ferrari defendants in suit brought by employee for defamation, conspiracy to defame, violation of Florida’s Whistleblower Act, and implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.
  • Zoological Wildlife Foundation, Inc., and Mario Tabraue v. The Humane Society of the United States, Inc., No. 15-CV-23529 (S.D. Fla. 2017). Successful defense of Humane Society in libel suit brought by founder of zoo who was also convicted of multiple felony crimes.
  • Preston B. Henn v. Ferrari of North America, Inc., No. 16-CV-61830 (S.D. Fla. 2016). Defense counsel to Ferrari of North America, Inc. in defamation suit. Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed suit in response to Ferrari’s motion to dismiss.
  • Wollschlaeger, et al. v. Governor of the State of Florida, et al., No. 12–14009, (11th Cir. 2016), reh'g en banc pending (counsel for American Bar Association seeking rehearing of panel opinions and seeking en banc affirmance of district court injunction precluding enforcement of Florida Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act).
  • Hoefling v. City of Miami, 2006 WL 285358 (11th Cir. 2016). Reversed district court order dismissing  § 1983 suit of mariner against city that alleged it violated mariner’s Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights after it seized and destroyed his vessel without notice.
  • Obergefell, et al. v. Hodges, et al., Nos. 14-556, 14-562, 14-571 and 14-574 (2015)Represented the Campaign for Southern Equality and Equality Federation in support of marriage equality before the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Pareto et al v. Harvey Ruvin as Clerk of the Courts of Miami-Dade County, Case No. 2014-1661-CA-01 (Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Florida) (2015). Represented plaintiffs in constitutional challenge to Florida’s same-sex marriage ban.
  • International Players Championship v. Matheson, 2015 WL 9393987 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015)Moved for summary judgment on professional tennis center developer’s challenge to decades-old development restrictions on Crandon Park. Decision affirmed by Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal.
  • Club Madonna, Inc. v. City of Miami Beach, 2015 WL 5559894 (S.D. Fla. 2015), awarding attorneys’ fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 in the amount of $102,460.660; No. 13-23762, DE 45 slip op. (S.D. Fla. 2014), granting dismissal with prejudice in frivolous civil rights action.
  • Eisenberg Development Corporation v. City of Miami Beach, 95 F. Supp. 3d 1376 (S.D. Fla. 2015), finding entitlement to attorney’s fees and costs pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988, 28 U.S.C. § 1927, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, and the court’s inherent authority; No. 13-23620, DE 172 slip op. (S.D. Fla. 2014), granting final summary judgment in favor of defendant; 54 F. Supp. 3d 1312 (S.D. Fla. 2014), granting in part motion for judgment on the pleadings; 1 F. Supp. 3d 1327 (S.D. Fla. 2014), granting in part motion to dismiss.
  • Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, Inc., et. al. v. United States  Army Corps of Engineers (2014). Represented various environmental organizations in suit against United States Army Corps of Engineers challenging their failure to comply with specific Endangered Species Act requirements.

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Recognition

  • Selected as one of the Miami New Times' “Most Fascinating People” (2016)
  • Finalist, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce HYPE “Difference Maker” (2016)
  • Recipient, Urban Environment League’s Orchid Award for Community Organizing
  • Named to the "2015 New Leaders Council Fellows Class" of young progressive leaders
  • Bruce J. Winick Award for Academic Excellence Recipient
    • Awarded to top 1% of students at University of Miami School of Law
  • Dean's Merit Scholar
  • Daniel Pearson Scholarship Recipient
  • Four-time Dean's Fellow for Property and Contracts

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Florida Bar Digital Currency Task Force
  • Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA) Innovation Committee
  • City of Miami Charter Review and Reform Committee
  • Engage Miami
    • Founder and Board Chair: Engage Miami is an organization dedicated to raising millennial voter turnout and creating a culture of civic involvement within Miami-Dade County.
  • Code For Miami
    • Policy Advisor: Organize and lead a brigade of civic hackers in drafting and implementing an Open Data Policy for Miami-Dade County.
  • Buskerfest Miami
    • Policy Advisor: Organize and lead team of artists in advocating for legislation that protects the First Amendment rights of musicians and artists to perform on Miami’s streets.

Speaking Engagements

  • Weekly panelist on Tone Vay's Bitcoin Law Review Podcast
  • Led roundtable on the adoption of proposed cryptocurrency-specific legislation before Florida's Office of Financial Regulation (August 16, 2018)
  • Presentation at Startup FIU's Blockchain Panel, Miami (June 7, 2018)
  • "Blockchain and Its Impact on Trade and Logistics," Beacon Council, Miami (May 31, 2018)
  • "Blockchain and Its Impact on Existing Business Models," MBAF, Miami (May 10, 2018) 
  • "Crypto Law and Regulations," Strafford Webinar on Emergence of Blockchain: New Applications, Issues and Best Practices for Corporate Counsel (April 18, 2018)
  • "Blockchain and Its Effect on Real Estate," Commercial Real Estate Women Network, Miami (March 28, 2018)
  • "Legal Implications of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency," Synapse Innovation Summit, Tampa FL (March 28, 2018)
  • "AI and its Effects on Everyday Business," MBAF, Miami (March 27, 2018)
  • "Business and Technology Seminar," University of Miami Business School, Miami (March 21, 2018)
  • “Panel Discussion: Capital Raising and Investing in the Age of Crypto’s, ICO’s and Blockchain,” Crypto Forum Presented by Guzman & Company, Miami (February 22, 2018)
  • “Florida Action Cast: Blockchain Podcast” (February 5, 2018)
  • "The Law of Blockchain," Florida International University’s StartUP FIU, Miami (September 29, 2017)
  • “The First Amendment as a Check on Governmental Power,” Florida International University Honors College, Miami (March 2017)
  • “Talk is Cheap: Reforming Miami’s Busted Campaign Finance System” (February 2016)
  • “The Supreme Court and the First Amendment,” Florida Bar Annual Convention (June 2015)
  • “Open Data Workshop,” Code Across America (February 2015)
  • “The Supreme Court and the First Amendment,” Florida Bar Annual Convention (June 2014)
  • “First Amendment Jurisprudence of the Roberts Court: A Statistical Analysis,” Florida Bar Annual Convention (June 2013)
  • “Checks and Balances,” University of Miami School of Law Street Law Clinic, Miami (January 30, 2013)

Credentials

Education
  • University of Miami School of Law (J.D., summa cum laude, 2012)
    • Order of the Coif
    • Bruce J. Winick Scholar - Tuition scholarship awarded to top 1% of graduating class
  • University of California, San Diego (B.A., magna cum laude, 2009)
Bar Admissions
  • Florida
  • California
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
  • Florida State Courts

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.