Canadian financial regulators, in lockstep with a growing number of jurisdictions, has put the cryptocurrency world on notice after confirming the potential applicability of Canadian securities laws to virtual currencies and related trading and marketplace operations.
When Jillian Friedman completed her articling at McMillan LLP at the end of last year, the young Montreal lawyer attended by fortuitous happenstance a presentation at a networking event on Bitcoins, a controversial and extremely volatile virtual currency that exists only digitally, as computer code. Friedman, unshaken by the scandals and sordid headlines that has rocked the nascent Internet currency over the past year, was hooked, enticed by the notion of becoming a crypto-currency legal expert.
She is on her way. Heeding the advice of her mentors, Friedman is cultivating a clientele of bitcoin startups, a sector that allows her to share her knowledge and brief legal experience in financial services and general commercial law to an industry pushing for mainstream recognition. She has since become one of a handful of Canadian lawyers who has accepted payments in bitcoins, though she does not hold it in trust. “I would love for the legal community in Canada to understand that bitcoin is not some sketchy digital currency that is used to launder money – it is much more than that,” said Friedman, who is counsel to Bitcoin Embassy, a Montreal non-profit profit corporation founded to promote the adoption of Bitcoin and related crypto-technologies.