Willkie hires crypto partner from Perkins Coie as it bolsters digital assets leadership

Kari Larsen to co-head digital works practice alongside Christopher Giancarlo, Aliceson Littman and Justin Browder

Willkie Farr & Gallagher has hired crypto lawyer Kari Larsen from Perkins Coie to boost its digital assets business in New York.

Larsen joins the Wall Street firm as a partner and co-head of the firm’s digital works practice, which she will jointly lead with existing co-head Christopher Giancarlo and newly appointed co-heads Aliceson (Kristy) Littman – who joined earlier this year from the Securities & Exchange Commission – and asset management partner Justin Browder. 

Larsen brings with her more than two decades of experience in private practice, in-house and government work advising fintech, digital asset, crypto and blockchain businesses.

Giancarlo said: “With the additions of Kari and Kristy, along with Justin taking on a leadership role, our team combines a highly skilled focus on digital assets akin to a boutique fintech firm with the rigour, discipline and reach of one of the world’s premier international law firms.”

The practice will focus on a range of digital asset-related legal services beyond regulatory and compliance matters, including commercial and capital raising transactions for crypto businesses, token issuance, enforcement and class action defence work.

Larsen spent just short of four years at Perkins Coie, which is based in Seattle, where she was a partner and co-lead of its blockchain, digital asset and custody group, having joined from Reed Smith where she was counsel.

Prior to that she was general counsel, chief regulatory officer and chief compliance officer at crypto trading platform LedgerX (which has since been acquired by FTX). She also had stints in-house at Noble 4 Advisors and Green Exchange and began her career in private practice at McDermott Will & Emery. She also previously worked as counsel at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Larsen said: “The digital asset space is rapidly expanding and evolving, and Willkie is at the forefront of advising clients across the globe on novel and critical issues related to cryptocurrency and digital asset transactional, regulatory and enforcement matters.”

Littman, meantime, joined Willkie in July from the SEC where she headed up its crypto assets and cyber unit, leading investigations on federal securities law violations related to digital assets and cyber. Prior to her almost 12-year career at the SEC she was an associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Earlier this month, Brown Rudnick hired a team of four partners from Anderson Kill in the US to add expertise in cryptocurrencies, digital assets and blockchain to its digital commerce practice. 

And in August, Loeb & Loeb hired crypto expert Gian Pastore as its Web 3.0 manager, a newly created position to help support clients and the firm with blockchain and Web 3.0-related projects.

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