Panel IV

Blockchain-Backed Cryptocurrencies: Order Without Law in the Digital Age

In the wake of skyrocketing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency prices, the SEC has argued that cryptocurrencies should be regulated as securities. Yet, many of those responsible for developing cryptocurrencies view them as an efficient, reliable way of storing and exchanging value without government interference or regulation. This panel will discuss the likelihood that cryptocurrencies will play a meaningful role in the global economy, and if and how they should be regulated. 

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Moderator and Panelists

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MODERATOR - Judge John B. Nalbandian (U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit)

John B. Nalbandian serves as a United States Circuit Judge from Kentucky on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was nominated and confirmed to that position in 2018. Prior to that, Judge  Nalbandian was a partner in the litigation practice group of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Cincinnati, where he served as the firm’s lead appellate lawyer and also practiced complex litigation in state and federal courts. Judge Nalbandian was board certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a specialist in appellate law. Prior to joining Taft, Judge Nalbandian practiced for five years in the appellate section of Jones Day in Washington, DC. Upon graduation from law school, Judge Nalbandian clerked for the Honorable Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Houston. While in private practice, he also served as a board member of the State Justice Institute, a nonprofit organization established by the federal government to improve the administration of justice in state courts. He served as President of the Cincinnati Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. He has also been involved in his community as a board member of the Greater Cincinnati Minority Counsel Program, and as a board member of the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Southwest Ohio. Judge Nalbandian earned his B.S., magna cum laude, from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif and served as managing editor of the Virginia Law Review.

PANELIST - Prof. Gary Marchant (ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law)

Gary Marchant is a Regent's Professor of Law and director of the Center for Law, Science and Innovation. His research interests include legal aspects of genomics and personalized medicine, the use of genetic information in environmental regulation, risk and the precautionary principle, and governance of emerging technologies such as nanotechnology, neuroscience, biotechnology and artificial intelligence. He teaches courses in Law, Science and Technology, Genetics and the Law, Biotechnology: Science, Law and Policy, Health Technologies and Innovation, Privacy, Big Data and Emerging Technologies, and Artificial Intelligence: Law and Ethics. He was named a Regents' Professor in 2011 and also is a professor in ASU’s School of Life Sciences, a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and is a Lincoln Professor of Emerging Technologies Law and Ethics with the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at ASU. 


Prior to joining ASU in 1999, Professor Marchant was a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis, where his practice focused on environmental and administrative law. During law school, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology and editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review and was awarded the Fay Diploma (awarded to top graduating student at Harvard Law School). Professor Marchant frequently lectures about the intersection of law and science at national and international conferences. He has authored more than 150 articles and book chapters on various issues relating to emerging technologies. Among other activities, he has served on five National Academy of Sciences committees, has been the principal investigator on several major grants, and has organized numerous academic conferences on law and science issues.


Relevant Articles, Cases, etc.:

  1. FEATURE: BREATHE: BLOCKCHAIN: HOW IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LEGAL PRACTICE, 54 AZ Attorney 12.
  2. Principles-Based Regulation and Emerging Technology, in THE GROWING GAP BETWEEN EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES AND LEGAL-ETHICAL OVERSIGHT: THE PACING PROBLEM 157.

PANELIST - Ms. Mary Beth Buchanan (General Counsel, Kraken cryptocurrency exchange)

Mary Beth Buchanan currently serves as General Counsel for Kraken, the highest rated and largest Bitcoin exchange in terms of euro volume and liquidity. Kraken was the first Bitcoin exchange to have trading price and volume displayed on the Bloomberg Terminal, the first to pass a cryptographically verifiable proof-of-reserves audit, and is a partner in the first cryptocurrency bank.


Before serving as General Counsel for Kraken, Ms. Buchanan was a partner in Bryan Cave’s White Collar Defense and Investigations and Securities Litigation and Enforcement Client Service Groups. She concentrated her practice on white collar criminal defense, SEC and FINRA enforcement matters, corporate and accounting fraud, internal investigations, corporate compliance, foreign corrupt practices violations, Congressional investigations and complex civil litigation.


Prior to Bryan Cave, Ms. Buchanan served as the ethics and reputational risk officer for the United Nations. She conducted the United Nations’ first ethics and reputational risk assessment for U.N. Peacekeeping and Special Political Operations.


Prior to her work with the UN, Ms. Buchanan served as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 2001-2009, having been appointed by President George W. Bush. She is the only woman in Pennsylvania's history to be presidentially appointed to this position. As the U.S. Attorney, Ms. Buchanan oversaw the prosecution of more than 5,000 cases, including corporate and securities fraud, bank fraud, foreign corrupt practices, false claims, money laundering, health care fraud, public corruption and a broad range of violent crimes. Prior to that time, Ms. Buchanan spent more than 13 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney litigating criminal, civil and appellate cases.


During her tenure as the U.S. Attorney, Ms. Buchanan also held several posts at the DOJ, including serving as the director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, acting director of the DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women and chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Ms. Buchanan also served on the U.S. Sentencing Commission's Organizational Guidelines Advisory Committee, which made recommendations to the Commission for amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines for Business Organizations.


Relevant Articles, Cases, etc.:

  1. Coming soon
  2. Coming soon

PANELIST - Prof. John O. McGinnis (Northwestern Law School)

John O. McGinnis is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He also has an MA degree from Balliol College, Oxford, in philosophy and theology. Professor McGinnis clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. From 1987 to 1991, he was deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. He is the author of Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Government Through Technology (Princeton 2013) and Originalism and the Good Constitution (Harvard 2013) (with M. Rappaport). He is a past winner of the Paul Bator award given by the Federalist Society to an outstanding academic under 40. He has been listed by the United States on the roster of panelists who may be called upon to decide World Trade Organization Disputes.


Relevant Articles, Cases, etc.:

  • Why Bitcoin Is Booming in WALL STREET JOURNAL (Jul. 9, 2017) (Co-authored by: Kyle W. Roche).
  • Bitcoin: Order without Law in the Digital Age in NORTHWESTERN PUBLIC LAW RESEARCH PAPER No. 17-06(working paper 2017) (Co-authored by: Kyle W. Roche).
  • Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology (Princeton University Press 2013).

PANELIST - Mr. Jim Harper (Emerging Technology Expert)

Jim Harper is a former senior fellow at the Cato Institute, former executive vice president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and in 2014 he served as Global Policy Counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation. In each of these roles, he worked to adapt law and policy to the information age in areas such as privacy, cybersecurity, telecommunications, intellectual property, counterterrorism, government transparency, and digital currency. A former counsel to committees in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, he went on to represent companies such as PayPal, ICO-Teledesic, DigitalGlobe, and Verisign.


A founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, Harper co-edited the book Terrorizing Ourselves: How U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How to Fix It. He has written several amicus briefs in Fourth Amendment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and is the author of Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood. He has been cited by numerous print, Internet, and television media outlets and has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications. His scholarly articles have appeared in the Administrative Law Review, the Minnesota Law Review, and the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly.


Harper earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and he holds a JD from the University of California-Hastings College of Law.


Relevant Articles, Cases, etc.:

  1. The Bitcoin Ecosystem’s Communications Deficits, Bitcoin Magazine (May 5, 2016),  https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/the-bitcoin-ecosystem-s-communications-deficits-1462286858/ (dealing with Bitcoin's decentralization problems; if it’s decentralized, it’s likely harder to regulate).
  2. 2016: The Year That Wasn’t For Bitcoin, Coindesk (Dec. 19, 2016), https://www.coindesk.com/2016-the-year-that-wasnt-bitcoin(discussing issues with bitcoin, such as volatility, lack of social capital, and viability).
  3. The Bitcoin-Related Works of Jim Harper, Medium (Aug. 22, 2017, 1:14 AM), https://medium.com/@JimHarperDC/the-bitcoin-related-works-of-jim-harper-56b562c15535(arguing that bitcoin regulation should be primarily non-governmental).
  4. Op-Ed: China’s Mining Subsidies Create Tension With Free Trade Rules, Bitcoin Magazine (Nov. 21, 2016),  https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/op-ed-china-s-mining-subsidies-create-tension-with-free-trade-rules-1479748657/(arguing that current anti-dumping and other international laws may not be applicable to bitcoin).