Ashkaan Hassan, founder of Los Angeles boutique law firm Nu|Legal, recently spoke to the Digital Currency Council on why he thinks businesses and professionals like him should accept Bitcoin.
Nu|Legal operates differently from most law firms. The firm uses technology to help with research and other routine tasks. “We’re more tech-savvy than most other firms,” boasts Hassan, “and so we’re more efficient, and more effective in trial.”
Hassan developed an interest in the peer-to-peer medium of exchange almost since its inception, when it started getting popular in 2009. His was the first law firm in Los Angeles to start accepting the digital currency. He told us that in the beginning he was very interested in Bitcoin and what its effects would be on the economy.
Bitcoin is “trustless”, because there’s no need to give out sensitive information such as credit card numbers, especially if users are unsure about the entities they are doing business with. This completely changes the calculation of counterparty risk. It is not regulated by any central bank, but instead a decentralized network of computers ensures its authenticity and issues new bitcoins when “miners” use their computers to solve complex mathematical problems.
Hassan notes that he has been involved in all aspects of the digital currency economy. He has mined some, bought some, received some, and spent some.
When Nu|Legal decided to accept Bitcoin, it opened up a new channel for the law firm. Clients started coming to firm “because they needed legal help, but also because they wanted to spend Bitcoin,” says Hassan. “I made it easier for them. Of course, it was mutually beneficial.”
Another thing Hassan has done to build his business related to Bitcoin is to post the firm on various digital currency maps and directories. This pairs the firm with clients looking for services that accept Bitcoin.
One piece of advice Hassan has for his clients is to be careful with making transfers, since information on every bitcoin used is entered in a general ledger. When users make Bitcoin transactions, the ownership is transferred from the buyer to the seller in this ledger. “It’s easy to think that what you’re doing is anonymous,” says Hassan, “but if you do something illegal with bitcoins, you can be caught.”
Hassan also thinks users should watch Bitcoin carefully, as its price fluctuates quite a bit. This is sage advice for a currency that peaked higher than gold in 2013, reaching a top of $1252 per coin. At the start of 2013, Bitcoin was worth only about $12 per coin, a gain of more than 10,000 percent from the year’s high.
When asked for advice for professionals looking to build their businesses related to Bitcoin, Hassan replied, “It’s kind of obvious. Accept Bitcoin.” He opined that it’s the most viable of the digital currencies, and he said that if any of them is going to last, he would have his money on Bitcoin. “I literally do,” he said, laughing.
Hassan encourages his peer firms to accept Bitcoin – though cautioned that as a law firm, there might be some ethical issues to holding Bitcoin and waiting for it to gain more value. “From an ethical standpoint I instantly convert all Bitcoin into US dollars.”
Hassan undoubtedly sees the enormous promise of Bitcoin. In encouraging other professionals to accept Bitcoin, he is helping to usher in a new financial system where, in the words of former chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, digital currencies “hold long-term promise, particularly if they promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system.”