K&L Gates hires crypto duo from Carlton Fields to boost US fintech practice

Andrew Hinkes and Justin Wales join as partners in Miami and Los Angeles

Miami is a growing hub for crypto activity Shutterstock

K&L Gates has hired a pair of crypto lawyers from Carlton Fields in Miami and Los Angeles, adding depth to its US fintech practice.  

Andrew Hinkes and Justin Wales join the firm as partners after a combined 11 years as counsel at Tampa-based Carlton Fields, working as part of its national blockchain and digital currency practice group.  

Hinkes joins K&L Gates after just over two years at Carlton Fields, where he advised companies on digital assets and blockchain technology-related legal matters. Prior to joining the firm, he co-founded Athena Blockchain, an asset management firm focused on tokenised investment products, where he worked as general counsel during his tenure at Carlton Fields.  

Before that, Hinkes held roles at Florida firms Berger Singerman and Siegfried Rivera, and has experience as a trial attorney handling complex commercial litigation.  

Wales, meanwhile, spent nine years at Carlton Fields, including seven years as chair of its blockchain and digital currency practice. He focuses on advising an array of blockchain, fintech and financial services clients on fundraising and regulatory matters, including executing token offerings.  

Speaking to Coindesk, Wales said the pair’s move to K&L Gates will allow them to bring their specialised knowledge in the “sci-fi areas of law” to a firm with the resources and name recognition to allow them to further develop their practices.  

Wales is set to split his time between K&L Gates’ Miami and Los Angeles offices, while Hinkes will be based solely in Miami.  

Commenting on the appointments, Steven Weinstein, managing partner of K&L Gates’ Miami office, said: “Miami is an emerging technology hub and the knowledge and experience of this team in cutting-edge blockchain and cryptocurrency issues will expand our capabilities to service our clients’ growing regulatory, finance and litigation needs related to digital currency.” 

The AmLaw 100 firm boasts more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and South America. The firm has been on a growth tear as of late, onboarding more than 75 new partners and of counsel since the beginning of 2020.  

K&L Gates is not alone in its investment in the burgeoning fintech space. In the UK, a number of firms have been contributing to growth in the fintech sector through incubator programmes, including Hogan Lovells and Allen & Overy. Meanwhile, CMS recently became the second law firm to participate in the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority-backed regulatory sandbox dedicated to driving innovation in the fintech market.  

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