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The Future of Blockchain and Digital Assets: The View of Silicon Valley

Speaker(s): Dr. Stephanie Hurder, Gabriel Shapiro, Lewis Cohen, Mark F. Radcliffe, Michele B. Neitz, Natalie Furman, Olga V. Mack, Olta Andoni, Rebecca Rettig, Stephen Palley
Recorded on: Oct. 27, 2021
PLI Program #: 305938

Rebecca Rettig is the General Counsel of the Aave Companies, a group of software development companies in Europe that build open source, blockchain-based software. Rebecca began her legal career at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP in New York, litigating complex commercial disputes. Prior to joining the Aave Companies, Rebecca was a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP in the financial services group, representing blockchain and crypto clients. 

With unique and deep-rooted expertise representing companies at the forefront of the financial services industry’s digital transformation, Rebecca spent the past four and a half years advising blockchain and cryptocurrency clients on legal and regulatory matters—with a particular focus advising DeFi projects over the past two years. She also represented clients in all aspects of litigation and regulatory enforcement proceedings as well as in licensing matters. 

In 2019, Rebecca was recognized as one of the top 100 women lawyers in New York City by Crain’s New York Business.

Natalie Grunfeld Furman is the General Counsel for Hedera Hashgraph, LLC, where she has worked since September 2017. 

Natalie was previously a senior associate at Paul Hastings LLP, where her practice focused on intellectual property, unfair competition, and rights of privacy and publicity.

Prior to law school, Natalie started her career in Silicon Valley, providing strategic advice to high tech startups. She first worked for three years as a strategy consultant at the boutique firm RB Webber & Associates in Palo Alto.  After RB Webber, she worked as Director of Strategy and Business Development at ONElist / eGroups, Inc., an online group communication startup acquired by Yahoo! Inc. and then as Director of Business Development for Appareon, Inc., a technology startup that was developing a global collaborative supply chain platform.  She has a longstanding interest in issues at the intersection of technology, culture and law.

Natalie received her BA in Anthropology with honors from Stanford University and her JD from Columbia University School of Law.

Co-founder of DLx Law, a law firm created to serve the needs of a new, technology-driven economy.  Lewis works together with co-founder Angela Angelovska-Wilson and the rest of the DLx Law team to provide in-depth legal counsel to startups, growth companies, major enterprises, and governmental entities on a broad range of matters involving the use of blockchain, cryptocurrencies and other disruptive technologies.  Passionate about the ability of innovative technologies to change the way businesses and individuals work together, Lewis has become a major advocate for potential of emerging technologies to benefit and transform industries around the globe.

Lewis brings more than 20 years of experience as a traditional capital markets and finance partner at two Global Top 50 law firms.  Lewis is a frequent public speaker on the topic of blockchain and distributed ledger technology.  Lewis served on the Board and Executive Committee of the Structured Finance Industry Group (SFIG).  Lewis is also recognized by Chambers Global as one of only three lawyers in “Band 1” for Legal: Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies – USA.


Dr. Stephanie Hurder is a Partner and Founding Economist of Prysm Group. Dr. Hurder’s work combines tools from cutting-edge economics research with blockchain expertise to design successful incentive-compatible digital economies. Dr. Hurder has led economic advisory projects for Fortune 100 companies and leading startups backed by funds including Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Sequoia, Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator and more. She is a member of the Program Committees of the Crypto Economics Security Conference and Financial Cryptography, an academic advisor to blockchain projects at the World Economic Forum, and an Opinion Columnist for CoinDesk, where she writes a monthly column on the economics of emerging technologies. Dr. Hurder is a former management consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and academic researcher at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Dr. Hurder regularly presents her work and research relating to economics and blockchain, which includes recent talks at Berlin Blockchain Week, Consensus, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the IBM Blockchain Accelerator, the Simons Institute at UC Berkeley, Stanford, SXSW, and the University of Cambridge. Dr. Hurder received an AB in Mathematics Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, an AM in Economics, and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University.

Gabriel Shapiro is General Counsel at Delphi Labs and a U.S. attorney with over a decade of experience in the structuring, negotiation and execution of strategic transactions for technology clients. He has represented and advised clients in connection with:

  • mergers, acquisitions & joint ventures
  • ·venture financings & crowdsales (SAFTs, stock, tokens)
  • securities law compliance (private & public)
  • governance design & issues
  • product design & compliance for peer-to-peer technologies

Prior to joining Delphi Labs, Gabriel practiced for many years in the tech M&A groups of top corporate law firms of Dewey & LeBoeuf, Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Hogan Lovells.

Gabriel obtained his B.A. from Brown University and his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, and is admitted to practice in California.


Mark Radcliffe is a senior partner who practices corporate securities and intellectual property law at DLA Piper. DLA Piper has over 4200 lawyers in more than 40 countries. He earned a B.S. in Chemistry magna cum laude from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Mr. Radcliffe’s practice focuses on representing corporations in their intellectual property and finance matters. He has worked both on transactions implementing blockchain technology and initial coin offerings as well as security token offerings. 

His combination of experience in corporate transactions and intellectual property (particularly open source licensing) make him particularly well suited to assist on blockchain issues. He has worked on over 1,000 venture transactions. Virtually all blockchain software is licensed under open source licenses and he is one of the most experienced open source software lawyers in the world. Chambers USA, the legal publisher, has repeatedly recognized him as "outstanding" and "a leader in open source-related matters." Chambers & Partners has commented that Mark "has a wealth of experience in the technology sector. Clients particularly value the proactive approach he takes to understanding their needs and the strategic advice that follows." "He is also well known for his specialist expertise on open source matters."

He has worked on open source software matters for over 20 years and has advised global Fortune 500 companies on their open source matters including Oracle, Red Hat, Sun, Adobe, Palm, eBay and Accenture. He also represents or has represented many "open source" startup companies. He assisted Sun in “open sourcing” the Solaris operating system and ran one of the four committees rewriting General Public License version 2 to create General Public License version 3.

He also has experience on advising companies and investors on token offerings, both in the US and globally. He has worked with a number of startups who are using token offerings to raise capital in addition to venture financing and discussed the issues in the following article: He was the co-author of an article on the issues for venture investors  He was involved in the effort by the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition to enact statutes to define “utility tokens” which was successful and was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on the issue:  He has assisted companies in a wide range industries on blockchain matters, from the formation of a consortium by Global Fortune 100 energy companies, to assisting a major media company in selling tokens that it received in a venture capital transaction to advising a cryptocurrency exchange on the risk of listing certain tokens under the current SEC guidance.

In April 2009 (the first year of the award), he was recognized for his experience by Intellectual Asset Management magazine as one of the World’s Leading 250 IP Strategists. He has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Management magazine again in each year to the present. In 1997, the National Law Journal named him one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the United States. He is consistently cited by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, as being in the first rank in California for IT and IT Outsourcing. In 1998, Harvard Law School designated him a “Distinguished Alumni”. He has been quoted on intellectual property matters in Time Magazine, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Examiner, San Jose Mercury News and the Daily Variety.

Michele Benedetto Neitz is a Professor of Law at Golden Gate University School of Law and an Affiliated Scholar at the LexLab at U.C. Hastings College of the Law.  She teaches Blockchain and the Law, Business Associations, Legal Ethics, and other classes. She has been voted “Most Outstanding Professor” by the graduating class of GGU Law five times, most recently in Spring 2020.

Professor Neitz was appointed to advise the California legislature as a member of the California Blockchain Working Group in 2019.  She researches and lectures on ethical and regulatory issues in blockchain technology.  She published the first law review article examining ethics in blockchain technology in January 2020.  Her most recent article, entitled “How to Regulate Blockchain’s Real-Life Applications: Lessons from the California Blockchain Working Group,” was published by the peer-reviewed Jurimetrics Journal in 2021.  Professor Neitz regularly speaks at tech and law conferences on these issues, including recent presentations at the CITRIS Research Exchange Panel at UC Berkeley and the University of Tokyo’s Blockchain Research Group Meeting.

Olga V. Mack is the CEO of Parley Pro, a next-generation contract management company that has pioneered online negotiation technology. Olga embraces legal innovation and had dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law. She is convinced that the legal profession will emerge even stronger, more resilient, and more inclusive than before by embracing technology. Olga is also an award-winning general counsel, operations professional, startup advisor, public speaker, adjunct professor, and entrepreneur. She was previously General Counsel at ClearSlide. Olga also worked at Visa, Yahoo, ClearSlide, Zoosk, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

She is a Corporate Social Responsibility fellow at Berkeley Law and CodeX fellow at Stanford University. She advises numerous startups including Quantstamp, the first decentralized security auditing blockchain platform, where she has served as VP of Strategy. Olga spoke at TEDxSanFrancisco about the impact potential of blockchain and smart contracts and at South by Southwest (SXSW) about blockchain business models. She authored Get on Board: Earning Your Ticket to a Corporate Board Seat, Fundamentals of Smart Contract Security, and Blockchain Business Models (Business Expert Press, 2020).

Olga received a Juris Doctor and Certificate in Law and Technology from U.C. Berkeley School of Law. She also graduated with a double major in Economics and Political Science from U.C. Berkeley.

Olta Andoni is a well known IP and Fintech Attorney and now has joined Nifty's as their Chief Legal Officer. Olta is a thought leader in the space where she voices and advocates for regulatory guidance, compliance, new legislation, policy developments in the industry and many legal issues related to the NFTs. She has lectured many years for Chicago-Kent, College of Law and is a writer for Coindesk. Prior to joining Nifty’s, Olta has advised many startups regarding regulatory matters, non-fungible tokens and many IP licensing issues related to them.  

Stephen D. Palley is a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Anderson Kill.  He is a seasoned trial lawyer and litigator with extensive experience in resolving complex commercial disputes in wide range of areas including insurance recovery, securities litigation, corporate governance disputes, construction and real estate disputes and media liability. 

Stephen also has significant hands-on software development and design experience. He is co-chair of Anderson Kill's recently launched Blockchain and Virtual Currency group, a cross-disciplinary team of lawyers, with experience across a wide range of legal practice areas, who specialize in advising software, internet, and fintech companies. In addition to an active litigation practice, a significant part of Stephen's practice involves non-litigation counseling and advisory work, both as an outside general counsel to technology and media startups and as a trusted advisor to established business across a range of industries.

Stephen has written and been quoted widely on legal issues arising from the use of Blockchain technology, with appearances in both print and television media.  Stephen was selected for inclusion in the 2019 and 2020 The Best Lawyers in America list for Insurance Law. In 2018, Stephen was recommended in The Legal 500 United States for Insurance - advice to policyholders.

Stephen is a fellow of both the American College of Coverage and Extra Contractual Counsel (“ACCEC”) and the Construction Lawyers Society of America, and has also been recognized as Washington, D.C. "Super Lawyer" in Construction Litigation.  A frequent and sought-after speaker and writer on construction insurance-related topics, Stephen is the lead editor and contributing author of Construction Insurance and contributing author of Fundamentals of Construction Law, treatises published by the ABA Forum on Construction Law.

Stephen is also an Editor of the International Journal of Blockchain Law (IJBL), a new law journal to help non-legal communities better understand blockchain & digital assets.