Willkie Adds Leading Digital Asset Lawyer Kari Larsen as Partner and Announces “Willkie Digital Works” Practice Leadership

September 19, 2022

Kari Larsen, Aliceson (Kristy) Littman, Justin Browder and J. Christopher Giancarlo to serve as Digital Works Practice co-heads.

New York, NY, September 19, 2022 -- Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP today announced that leading digital asset attorney Kari Larsen has joined the Firm as a partner. She will serve as co-head of the Willkie Digital Works practice based in the firm’s New York office. Kari is a pioneer in the digital asset industry with more than two decades of private practice, in-house and government experience advising financial technology, digital asset, crypto and blockchain clients on some of the industry’s most innovative technologies and products.

Along with Kari’s arrival, Willkie also announced additional leadership for the Willkie Digital Works group. Partner Aliceson (Kristy) Littman, who joined the firm this month from the SEC where she was Chief of its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit, and asset management partner Justin Browder will also serve as co-heads, along with Kari Larsen and current co-head Hon. J. Christopher Giancarlo, former CFTC Chairman and senior counsel at Willkie.

Kari’s arrival and the new practice head appointments, coupled with the addition of several other digital asset lawyers in Willkie’s US and European offices, further the development of the Willkie Digital Works practice beyond federal regulatory compliance to a full and complete range of digital asset legal services in the US and abroad, including commercial and capital raising transactions for crypto market participants, token issuance, business formation and investment, crypto regulatory compliance and enforcement and class action defense work.

“This is an exciting milestone moment for Willkie Digital Works,” said senior counsel Chris Giancarlo. “With the additions of Kari and Kristy, along with Justin taking on a leadership role, our team combines a highly skilled focus on digital assets akin to a boutique FinTech firm with the rigor, discipline and reach of one of the world’s premier international law firms.”

Kari Larsen commented: “The digital asset space is rapidly expanding and evolving, and Willkie is at the forefront of advising clients across the globe on novel and critical issues related to cryptocurrency and digital asset transactional, regulatory and enforcement matters. I’m excited to work with Chris, Kristy, Justin and Willkie’s talented attorneys firmwide to help clients anticipate and understand changes in the industry and offer innovative solutions to meet their needs.”

Kari began her career as International Operations Counsel for the Enforcement Division of the CFTC, advising on cross-border policy matters. Her in-house roles have included serving as general counsel and regulatory advisor at the first U.S.-based, banked and regulated digital currency derivatives exchange and clearing organization, and general counsel at the world’s second largest environmental futures exchange. She also has many years of private practice experience representing fintech clients at leading international law firms. Kari joins Willkie from Perkins Coie, where she was co-lead of the Blockchain, Digital Asset, and Custody group within its Fintech practice.

A partner in Willkie’s Litigation Department, Kristy Littman previously served as Chief of the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where she led a team responsible for investigating and litigating violations of the federal securities laws relating to digital assets, cybersecurity, and cyber-related trading violations. She spearheaded the institution of novel actions relating to crypto exchanges, lending platforms and multi-billion dollar token issuances, among others, and led charges against issuers, investment advisers and broker-dealers for cybersecurity disclosure and safeguards violations.

Justin Browder is a partner in Willkie's Asset Management Department, concentrating his practice on counseling investment advisers, investment funds, broker-dealers, and blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digital asset ecosystems and market participants on all aspects of the federal securities laws. He has substantial experience providing ongoing regulatory and operational advice to managers of private funds – including digital asset investors – and sponsors of fintech, digital asset and blockchain-based retail and institutional investment platforms. Justin previously served as Assistant General Counsel at a large alternative asset manager in New York.

The Willkie Digital Works team offers deep experience in the digital assets regulatory, policymaking and enforcement arenas. Representing both startups and established institutions, Willkie Digital Works provides sophisticated understanding of the emerging digital asset ecosystem to advise clients on securities and commodities laws and regulations; banking and Treasury laws and regulations; AML/KYC law; and state law matters, including the NY BitLicense regime, as well as crypto regulatory compliance, government enforcement and class action defense work. Further enhancing its deep experience, many of Digital Works attorneys have held senior positions at the government regulators that interact with the digital asset community.

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Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is an international law firm of approximately 1,000 attorneys with offices in Brussels, Chicago, Frankfurt, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Palo Alto, Paris, Rome, San Francisco and Washington. The Firm is headquartered in New York City at 787 Seventh Avenue.