Former Google lawyer joins spate of high-profile attorneys entering crypto

On Friday Coinbase Inc. announced the appointment of former Google Senior Legal Director Milana McCullagh as deputy general counsel for product and commercial legal.


McCullagh, who worked for more than 13 years at Google, will work across functions at Coinbase on product legal support, helping the firm to streamline legal compliance for new product launches.

McCullagh’s appointment is part of both a Coinbase campaign to attract legal talent that started last year, as well as a broader industry-wide movement of top-tier attorneys joining crypto firms. 


Between August and October, Coinbase appointed former general counsel at Dyson Ltd., Katherine Minarik, as general deputy counsel for litigation; former senior legal counsel at Uber Technologies Inc. in London, Carly Nuzbach Lowery, as an associate general counsel; the former attorney at Fenwick Jade Clemons as a commercial counsel; and head of supervisory affairs at CLS Group Holdings AG, Janice Payne, as director of regulatory compliance.

The glut of hirings may be part of an effort by Coinbase to quell regulatory fears from potential investors on the eve of a possible IPO. The San Francisco-based company held talks with law firms and investment banks regarding an IPO earlier in the year. 

Additionally, these appointments coincide with the company’s recent decision to curtail “political” and “societal” discussions at work, which led to a request by 60 employees to take advantage of exit packages provided by the company.

Major legal appointments sweeping the cryptocurrency industry

Coinbase is not alone in its goal of bringing top-tier legal professionals to the crypto industry, however.

On October 8, the blockchain-based company O(1) Labs Operating Corp. announced the appointment of the former in-house attorney at Goldman Sachs and associate with Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Sang Joon Kim as general counsel.

On October 7, the cryptocurrency exchange and custodian Gemini Trust Co. LLC appointed the former head of legal with Morgan Stanley’s global financial crimes division, Andy Meehan as a chief compliance officer for the Asia-Pacific region.

And, last Wednesday, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz announced the appointment of the former chief regulatory officer at the New York Stock Exchange, Anthony Albanese, to work on cryptocurrency regulation matters.

These moves coincide with the steps taken by US regulators to legalize the cryptocurrency industry. Earlier, the US Department of Justice issued official guidelines to regulate the cryptocurrency market and hold it accountable.

Erich Dylus, an aviation finance attorney for Vedder Price by day and a member of legal engineering DAO LexDAO by night, told Cointelegraph that the hirings might be a sign of the legal world acknowledging crypto’s growing influence:

“Some attorneys are discovering an exciting frontier in need of ‘meatspace’ legal guidance — it speaks to the maturing nature of the crypto and crypto-adjacent industries that big names are making the jump.”