J. Christopher “Chris” Giancarlo is senior counsel and Co-Chair of the Willkie Digital Works practice. He is based in the firm’s New York office. Chris served as the thirteenth Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), where he oversaw regulation of the futures, options and swaps derivatives markets. Chris was also a successful entrepreneur helping GFI Group Inc. grow into a leading trading platform and technology vendor to global markets for OTC swaps and other derivatives and managing GFI’s successful private equity financing and IPO.

Chris is a renowned blockchain technology advocate and key contributor to the global discourse on cryptocurrencies and digital assets. During his tenure at the CFTC (2014-2019), Chris oversaw the first bitcoin futures products entering the marketplace and applied a “Do No Harm” regulatory approach towards blockchain technology.

Chris has testified often about financial and derivatives markets before the U.S. Congress and EU Parliament and is a frequent guest on broadcast radio and television, including BloombergTV, CNBC, Fox Business and the BBC, as well as podcasts such as “Unchained” and “CoinDesk.” Chris has written and spoken extensively on public policy, legal and other matters involving technology and the financial markets and has authored numerous white papers, articles and op-eds that have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Cato Journal, New York Law Journal, Les Echos and Coinbase.

Chris has over 45,000 followers on Twitter as @giancarloMKTS where he is known as “CryptoDad.” The American Crypto Association featured him among the top 10 crypto lawyers on its 2020 ranking of “The Top 25 Crypto Lawyers” in the nation.

In March 2022, Chris was appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the French National Order of Merit by a Presidential decree of President Macron. According to French Ambassador Phillipe Etienne, the award recognizes Chris's expertise in “financial markets and the potentials of cryptofinance.”

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Prior to joining Willkie in 2019, Chris served as Chairman and Chief Executive of the CFTC from August 2017 – July 2019. He was first nominated as a CFTC Commissioner by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed in June 2014. He was subsequently nominated as CFTC Chairman by President Donald Trump and again unanimously confirmed in August 2017. He departed the CFTC in July 2019 following the expiration of his five-year term. As CFTC Chairman, Chris served as a member of the Financial Stability Oversight Committee (FSOC), the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, and the Executive Board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and participated in meetings of the Financial Stability Board (FSB).

Prior to entering public service, Chris served as the Executive Vice President of financial services firm GFI Group Inc., where he led GFI’s transformation from privately held partnership to an initial public offering and many corporate acquisitions. He also previously served as Executive Vice President and U.S. Legal Counsel of Fenics Software.

Chris was also a corporate partner in the New York law firm of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, a founding partner at Giancarlo & Gleiberman, and an associate in the London office of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.

  • Chris was recognized among the top attorneys in the country for Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies in Chambers FinTech 2023, an annual ranking of the leading law firms and practitioners for the FinTech industry.
  • Chris was appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the National Order of Merit by French President Macron in March 2022 in recognition of his expertise in “cryptofinance.”
  • Chris was the only private practitioner recognized in the 2022 “TabbForum 40” among “technology-driven innovators, disruptors and difference-makers who are having the greatest impact on financial markets.”
  • Chris was recognized among the highest-ranked lawyers in “Who’s Who Legal: Fintech & Blockchain 2023.”
  • In 2020 he was featured among the top 10 lawyers on the American Crypto Association’s ranking of “The Top 25 Crypto Lawyers” in the nation.
  • In 2020, he was honored by the IFLR Americas Awards 2020 as the recipient of the notable “Contribution to Regulatory Reform” award.
  • In May of 2019, the City of London Corporation awarded Chris “The Freedom of the City,” an honor dating back to the Middle Ages.
  • In 2017, he was named “Person of the Decade” by the French American Academy of New Jersey for his service as Chairman of the Board.

Chris serves as a board member of the American Financial Exchange (AFX), the sponsor of Ameribor and Ameribor Futures, and a member of the advisory board to The Chamber of Digital Commerce, a trade group focused on U.S. blockchain and crypto policy. He also serves as an independent director of Nomura Holdings, the parent company of Nomura Securities, a global financial services business headquartered in Japan.

He is a founder and director of The Digital Dollar Project, launched in January 2020, a multi-stakeholder initiative to advance exploration of a United States Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

He is a founding board member and former Chairman of the Wholesale Markets Brokers Association (Americas). He was also a member of the Leadership Board of the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

He was a founding Co-Editor-in-Chief of eSecurities, Trading and Regulation on the Internet (Leader Publications).

Additionally, he is an advisor to the Cypher Accelerator at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School Stevens Center for Innovative Finance.



Vanderbilt University School of Law, J.D., 1984 Skidmore College, B.A., 1981

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